Acquisition and Leadership Changes

Since Musk’s acquisition, the platform has seen notable leadership shifts, including the appointment of Linda Yaccarino as CEO in June, which was initially seen as a move to steady the ship and restore confidence in X/Twitter's direction. However, Musk's dominant presence and eccentric behaviour (reinstating white supremacists to the platform, reversing a Twitter ban on Covid-19 misinformation) and other erratic decisions are all actions that many believe undermine the efforts of the appointed leadership, leading to an atmosphere of unpredictability. Indeed, some critics argue that Yaccarino’s ability to drive change was "torpedoed" even before her appointment.

Advertising Woes and Revenue Decline

Under Musk, X/Twitter has faced a steep decline in advertising revenue, reportedly dropping by 50%. In an attempt to ‘innovate’, the platform has introduced a pretty weird unblockable ‘Taboola’ clickbait-style ad format, (think - those weird ads you see at the very bottom of a website; “You won’t believe this…”). This format doesn't clearly indicate its promotional nature and redirects users to low-quality third-party sites, creating a trust deficit among users and advertisers.

Brand Identity and Rebranding

Anyone remember when Elon was forced to take down the unpermitted glowing X sign from the top of the (formerly Twitter) headquarters? The disastrous rebrand of Twitter’s building signage was emblematic of the haphazard way in which the Twitter platform was turned into X. While the X logo has replaced Twitter on many parts of the site and app, to this day remnants of Twitter remain (take a quick glance at your tabs next time you open X). This rebranding is widely perceived as discarding the significant brand equity Twitter built over the years. The new, nondescript "X" emblem can also be regarded as another personal whim of Musk rather than a strategic branding move, potentially alienating loyal users (like social Media Guru Matt Navarra) and advertisers.

Content Management and Sensitivity Controls

As the digital landscape evolves, so do the challenges associated with managing content. X/Twitter, given its vast user base and real-time nature, has always been at the forefront of this challenge. But now, with dwindling staff numbers to manage content and a more open approach to controversial content, the challenge is even greater.

The Rise of Controversial Content:

Even prior to Musk's acquisition, Twitter was both a platform for global conversations and a hotspot for polarised discussions and controversial content. This environment poses risks for brands, who tend to seek platforms where their messages won't be overshadowed by negative or harmful content. As marketers we are naturally averse to risks, especially when it involves a platform rampant with unchecked content. With Musk reinstating permission for more extreme content on the platform, this X is already a more challenging landscape for brand guardians to navigate.

Sensitivity Controls - A Response to Controversy:

In a move to appease advertisers and provide them with more control, X introduced 'sensitivity controls'. These controls allow advertisers to choose the type of content adjacent to which their ads will appear. While on the surface this seems like a solution, the platform's overall approach to content raises eyebrows. For instance, the lawsuit against an anti-hate speech group contradicts the purported aim of the sensitivity controls, creating a perception of inconsistency in X's content management strategy.

X's efforts to balance open discourse with advertiser-friendly content have been met with challenges. The introduction of sensitivity controls and controversial ads illustrates the platform's struggle to strike this balance. For X to regain advertiser trust, a consistent and transparent approach to content management is crucial.

Future Direction and Paywall Proposition

There's speculation about X transitioning behind a paywall and its metamorphosis into an "everything app," akin to WeChat. The idea of an "everything app" suggests a broader vision for X, but its feasibility remains debated. The jury is out on Twitter Blue with its $8 a month cost and verification for organisation at $1000 a month. $1 a year just to post on the platform might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

In essence, since Musk's acquisition, X/Twitter has been on a tumultuous journey, marked by leadership changes, declining ad revenues, branding shifts, and evolving content strategies. These changes, driven partly by Musk's maverick approach, have left stakeholders in a state of uncertainty regarding the platform's future trajectory.

As a final kicker, financial regulators in the US are suing Elon Musk after the billionaire said he would no longer cooperate with its investigation into his purchase of Twitter, now known as X.

Oh dear! (Link.)


Credibility Concerns: With the changes to Twitter's (now X's) verification system, brand guardians should be more cautious about the sources they rely on and promote. Verified accounts might not always equate to reliable information, and brands risk damaging their reputation by aligning with or sharing unverified content.

Algorithm-Driven Engagement: With X's algorithm promoting content that maximises engagement, brand guardians should consider tailoring their advertising strategies to create content that resonates with the platform's user base. This means understanding what drives users to engage, share, and react, ensuring ads are tailored to these behaviours for maximum reach.

Platform Stickiness & External Links: Since Musk's redesign emphasises keeping users within the platform, brands should consider leveraging native content and in-platform promotions. If driving traffic to external sites becomes less effective due to changes like the removal of link headlines, focusing on in-app campaigns, interactive posts, or platform-specific promotions might yield better results.