No matter how you are feeling about Elon Musk and his numerous tasks and stances, no less than he’s constant. Properly, in a enterprise administration context, no less than.
Again in June final 12 months, in an interview The Kilowatts, Elon mentioned his plans for Twitter, which was properly earlier than he really took possession of the platform.
In that interview, Musk outlined his plans for a paywall bypass system, which might allow Twitter customers to pay for one-off articles in-app, versus subscribing to varied publications.
That’s now turning into a actuality, with Musk saying over the weekend that Twitter will quickly allow publications to cost Twitter customers for entry per article in-stream.
Rolling out subsequent month, this platform will permit media publishers to cost customers on a per article foundation with one click on.
This permits customers who wouldn’t join a month-to-month subscription to pay a better per article value for after they wish to learn an occasional article.…
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 29, 2023
Which sounds fascinating, proper? As Musk says, perhaps that’ll present one other approach for publications to earn money from people who find themselves by no means going to change into subscribers, however would possibly pay for an article right here or there.
Sounds fascinating in concept, proper?
Besides, this very mannequin has already been tried, and abandoned, many times, by numerous publications and platforms as they search new monetization alternatives.
The important thing drawback? By providing smaller, one-off funds for single article entry, that then de-values subscriptions, that are way more beneficial for media entities. Certain, not everyone’s going to change into a subscriber, however a portion of their viewers will, and if these few now not have to subscribe to entry content material, that then signifies that your per-article mannequin must ship much more, in an effort to exchange that misplaced subscription income.
Each previous experiment has discovered that this finally ends up resulting in a internet loss for publishers versus the subscription system, which is why, strive as many have, this method doesn’t work, and can fail once more on Twitter.
Although there was one firm that provided the same program, which really did ship advantages for publishers and readers alike – and it’s owned by Twitter.
Twitter acquired Scroll back in 2021, which supplied a approach for customers to pay a month-to-month subscription charge that may then be re-shared with publishers whose content material you engaged with, enabling customers to learn extra articles on-line, with no need particular person subscriptions to every supplier.
Scroll was primarily targeted on offering an ad-free studying expertise, versus bypassing paywalls, as such. However the mannequin might primarily perform in that approach as properly, and Twitter had numerous workers from Scroll on its workforce when Elon took over on the app.
However he fired them, together with 1000’s of different inner specialists who knew learn how to make one thing like this work.
However, however, Elon’s assured that he is aware of finest anyway, which is why he’s now pushing ahead with one other challenge that possible received’t work, in defiance of all typical knowledge and expertise.
Which, for good or dangerous, is the Elon Musk approach.
Again in November, in his first weeks of settling into his new function as chief of Twitter, Musk outlined his key areas of focus for the platform, and the initiatives that he had in thoughts to reform the Twitter expertise.
A type of first plans was his $8 verification program, which, on the time, many individuals mentioned wouldn’t work. And it hasn’t. Regardless of all of Musk’s numerous efforts to push Twitter Blue take-up, fewer than 800k users – or 0.32% of Twitter’s general consumer base – have signed as much as Twitter Blue to date, whereas its $1,000 monthly Verification for Organizations program additionally doesn’t seem like faring a lot better.
However Elon’s sticking with them. Regardless of the poor take-up, that means that neither program is more likely to attain his unique targets, Elon’s pushing forward, and dealing on new methods to maximise subscription income, nonetheless he can.
Basically, Musk determined early on that this was one of the simplest ways to go, and he’s going to maintain pushing, until it’s both clearly a failure, or it’s not.
All through his profession, this has really been one in every of Elon’s strengths, having the self-belief and fortitude to go in opposition to typical knowledge, and push by means of with initiatives that others would possible suggest in opposition to. He’s seen success with this method in his different firms – when Tesla was instructed that batteries were simply too expensive to produce, which was the accepted knowledge primarily based on previous experiments, Musk tasked the Tesla workforce to interrupt down the method into particular steps, then discover the place value efficiencies may very well be gained.
And he was proper. Tesla was finally in a position to produce cheaper batteries, a key stumbling block for EVs previously, and it’s this method, which Musk himself known as ‘first principles’ thinking, that he takes into each challenge, breaking down every course of to its core parts in an effort to seek out the best methods to maximise efficiency.
It is sensible, to some extent. However in social media apps, you’re not coping with binary elements, you’re coping with actual folks, and behavioral shifts are a lot more durable to affect than scientific optimizations.
That’s why this new challenge possible received’t work, the identical as Twitter Blue, the identical as Group Notes at scale – the identical as each challenge that Elon has applied to date as ‘options’ to long-standing issues on the app.
At some scale, they’ll ship, and on some fronts, they’ll look to be working. However on a broader foundation, amongst lots of of hundreds of thousands of customers, in numerous areas, and all utilizing the app in numerous methods, none of those initiatives is definitely going to unravel the challenges that Musk and Co. counsel.
In fact, there’s an irony right here, in that I’m writing an article about how this received’t work, whereas highlighting that Elon has been in a position to ship previously by countering naysayers like me. In that sense, I do additionally need to additionally settle for that perhaps I’m incorrect, and perhaps, Musk sees one thing that I don’t, and he can really make these shifts occur. However as famous, coping with folks, and the way they work together, is a really completely different proposition, which isn’t as straightforward to unravel for as mechanical science.
However Elon’s going to push forward. As a result of that’s what he does.
It appears to me that this has change into a key flaw in his Twitter method, with Elon deciding way back on one of the simplest ways ahead for the app, which he’s now dedicated himself to, regardless of the scenario altering over time, and the outcomes displaying that they’re merely not sticking. Musk’s self-assuredness has additionally meant that he’s sacked and/or alienated many specialists with information that may assist, like the previous leaders from Scroll who perceive the complexities of on-line content material monetization higher than anybody.
Elon has mainly dismissed all outdoors opinion, and is pushing ahead with tasks which have been examined and failed many instances earlier than.
Possibly, although, the result might be completely different this time. However then once more, most likely not.