Why Do Advertisers Now Have to Subscribe to Twitter Blue?
As a marketer, it’s pretty likely by now you’ve noticed the rise in paid verification on social media. Certainly clients at my performance marketing agency, Pixated, have had to respond fast by adapting their tactics and rethinking their budgets—and it’s a trend I think we can now say with confidence is here to stay.
Meta is certainly on board, after having gently introduced Meta Verified in February. Twitter’s comparable rollout of Twitter Blue back in November was considerably more overt. Users were unhappy with the platform seeming to force through its new premium subscription service, whereby they’d have to purchase the ‘verified’ blue stamp for $8 a month.
This proved an overnight controversy. Because now if you want to run ads on the platform you’ll need to sign up to either Twitter Blue or Verification for Organizations, which is priced at $1,000 a month.
But it’s helpful at this point to take a step back and understand the path Twitter has taken to actually reach this divisive juncture in its history.
A very Muskian rollout
The buzz surrounding the launch of Twitter Blue was amplified by the chaos accompanying its rollout. A tidal wave of fake accounts immediately began impersonating brands on the platform, which is ironic given Twitter Blue’s raison d’être is to prevent that sort of thing.
This initial confusion naturally discredited Twitter Blue in the eyes of many experts, and also called into question Musk’s decision making as CEO.
I just killed it
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 9, 2022
But by ‘killing’ Twitter Blue mere hours after having launched it, Musk bought himself just enough time to recalculate the route, then relaunch Twitter Blue a month later—with far superior eligibility criteria.
— Twitter (@Twitter) December 10, 2022
But despite having enjoyed a better-organised launch the second time round, as we entered 2023 Twitter Blue was still struggling to gain traction (or indeed credibility) among users. Many struggled to understand why Musk had made the subscription service such that anyone could buy a blue tick. It was no longer a mark of prestige, something to achieve.
And only exacerbating this already widespread sense of discontent was the discontinuation of the ‘legacy’ blue checkmark used before Twitter Blue, which was based only on authenticity criteria and provided free of charge. In other words, all users with the blue checkmark lost it, and Twitter Blue became the only option available to those who still wanted a stamp alongside their handle.
What’s the prognosis for Twitter Blue?
Ironically, Twitter Blue’s low adoption rate led to a perverse second buzz around the subscription service—this time specifically because of the slow uptake. This was given new life when on April 21 all Twitter advertisers received an email saying their ‘account must have a verified checkmark to continue running ads on Twitter’.
WOW… Twitter is now telling advertisers it MUST subscribe to Twitter Blue or Verified Organisations to continue running ads! pic.twitter.com/4DrDu82Zi0
— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) April 21, 2023
Advertisers must now factor in an additional $96 per year ($8 a month) to their marketing budget for Twitter Blue. For many small businesses, that’s a sizeable chunk out of their ad spend. This comes as Musk endeavours to make Twitter profitable again. It’s no secret that this has been his aim since having taken over the platform—but some are questioning whether his attempt to scale Twitter Blue has gone too far.
And more fundamentally, critics are asking: Is strongarming brands into investing even more in Twitter really the best approach? After all, the platform lost no fewer than half its top advertisers last year. So as we head into H2 2023, I fully expect to see Musk looking to fortify his alliances with other major brands and social media platforms. What this means for marketers across the board will surely play out this summer.