No matter how you’re feeling about Elon Musk and his varied tasks and stances, at the very least he’s constant. Effectively, in a enterprise administration context, at the very least.
Again in June final 12 months, in an interview The Kilowatts, Elon mentioned his plans for Twitter, which was nicely 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 changing into a actuality, with Musk asserting 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 the next per article worth for after they wish to learn an occasional article.…
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 29, 2023
Which sounds attention-grabbing, proper? As Musk says, perhaps that’ll present one other method for publications to make cash from people who find themselves by no means going to grow to be subscribers, however may pay for an article right here or there.
Sounds attention-grabbing in principle, proper?
Besides, this very mannequin has already been tried, and abandoned, many times, by varied 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 much more precious for media entities. Certain, not everyone’s going to grow to be a subscriber, however a portion of their viewers will, and if these few now not have to subscribe to entry content material, that then implies that your per-article mannequin must ship much more, with the intention to substitute that misplaced subscription income.
Each previous experiment has discovered that this finally ends up resulting in a web loss for publishers versus the subscription system, which is why, attempt as many have, this technique doesn’t work, and can fail once more on Twitter.
Although there was one firm that provided an analogous 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 method for customers to pay a month-to-month subscription charge that might then be re-shared with publishers whose content material you engaged with, enabling customers to learn extra articles on-line, without having particular person subscriptions to every supplier.
Scroll was primarily centered on offering an ad-free studying expertise, versus bypassing paywalls, as such. However the mannequin might primarily operate in that method as nicely, and Twitter had varied workers from Scroll on its group when Elon took over on the app.
However he fired them, together with hundreds of different inner specialists who knew make one thing like this work.
However, however, Elon’s assured that he is aware of greatest anyway, which is why he’s now pushing ahead with one other venture that probably gained’t work, in defiance of all typical knowledge and expertise.
Which, for good or unhealthy, is the Elon Musk method.
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 varied 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 this point, whereas its $1,000 monthly Verification for Organizations program additionally doesn’t look like faring a lot better.
However Elon’s sticking with them. Regardless of the poor take-up, that means that neither program is prone to attain his unique objectives, Elon’s pushing forward, and dealing on new methods to maximise subscription income, nevertheless he can.
Primarily, Musk determined early on that this was one of the best 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 certainly one of Elon’s strengths, having the self-belief and fortitude to go in opposition to typical knowledge, and push by with initiatives that others would probably advocate in opposition to. He’s seen success with this method in his different corporations – when Tesla was informed that batteries were simply too expensive to produce, which was the accepted knowledge primarily based on previous experiments, Musk tasked the Tesla group to interrupt down the method into particular steps, then discover the place price 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 up to now, and it’s this method, which Musk himself known as ‘first principles’ thinking, that he takes into each venture, breaking down every course of to its core components in an effort to seek out the simplest methods to maximise efficiency.
It is sensible, to a point. However in social media apps, you’re not coping with binary parts, you’re coping with actual individuals, and behavioral shifts are a lot tougher to affect than scientific optimizations.
That’s why this new venture probably gained’t work, the identical as Twitter Blue, the identical as Group Notes at scale – the identical as each venture that Elon has applied to this point 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 tons of of hundreds of thousands of customers, in several areas, and all utilizing the app in several methods, none of those initiatives is definitely going to unravel the challenges that Musk and Co. counsel.
After all, there’s an irony right here, in that I’m writing an article about how this gained’t work, whereas highlighting that Elon has been in a position to ship up to now by countering naysayers like me. In that sense, I do additionally need to additionally settle for that perhaps I’m improper, and perhaps, Musk sees one thing that I don’t, and he can really make these shifts occur. However as famous, coping with individuals, and the way they work together, is a really totally 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 grow to be a key flaw in his Twitter method, with Elon deciding way back on one of the best ways ahead for the app, which he’s now dedicated himself to, regardless of the state of affairs altering over time, and the outcomes exhibiting 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 might assist, like the previous leaders from Scroll who perceive the complexities of on-line content material monetization higher than anybody.
Elon has principally dismissed all exterior opinion, and is pushing ahead with tasks which have been examined and failed many instances earlier than.
Perhaps, although, the end result will probably be totally different this time. However then once more, most likely not.