Corrie McBain and Sanjana Rao, Associate Account Executives, Technology

The Elon Era begins

After what was a rather lengthy and unpredictable few months of negotiations, Elon Musk has officially bought Twitter for a staggering $44 billion. With desires to turn the platform into a bastion of free speech, some major shake-ups have begun that will massively change the site’s functionality. Giving twitter a “digital town-square feel” might seem like an objectively appealing makeover, but there are some important considerations and unknowns following this transition that will have business leaders on the edge of their seats. With 50 out of Twitter’s top 100 advertisers already pulling their campaigns, it’s time to assess what the future of B2B social media marketing and advertising may hold.

What are the concerns?

Twitter has massively evolved since it began in 2006. Beneath all the memes, celebrity gossip and political discourse, the app itself has also become an extremely advantageous marketing and advertising platform for businesses. The ability to have an organic, direct line to your target audience has become essential for businesses’ marketing strategy. Now, Musk’s reign might threaten that with implications for businesses already causing concern.

Commercial accounts may need to pay subscription fees, a move that likely reflects Musk’s need to explore new revenue streams to help fund this colossal take over. For many larger B2B firms, this might be a small sacrifice to ensure access to an enormous pool of potential customers. However, smaller businesses who rely on organic advertising on Twitter – particularly during economically unstable periods when budgets are stretched thin – are at a huge risk if this comes to fruition. Engaging users, creating brand awareness, and sharing content is easily achieved on Twitter, that’s why 67% of all B2B businesses are on the site. Making this tool less accessible might be detrimental for thousands of organisations that can’t expend many resources on their marketing funnel approach.

Changes like this coupled with fears of the platform becoming a breeding ground for extremist content and hate speech, have prompted many businesses to consider moving their primary social media marketing activity toward other platforms like Tik Tok, Facebook and even some newer ventures like Mastodon.

Two immediate problems stem from this:

  1. Firstly, in the last two years, almost three times more users engage in customer service conversations with businesses. Twitter is the favoured platform for audiences to discuss products, queries and learn about brands. Twitter is also a great platform for businesses to assess brands and can in part inform their decisions to buy products and services.
  2. Other platforms, particularly Mastodon, simply don’t host the same levels of audiences. Despite Mastodon gaining 500,000 new users since the takeover, it is unlikely this platform will serve organisations to the same extent. Particularly for B2B marketing and advertising, Twitter is one of the favoured platforms. How long will it take for these new platforms to garner that same reputation?

What does the future of B2B marketing look like on Twitter?

Will Elon Musk’s sweeping changes drive away B2B businesses from advertising on the app?

. Musk himself tweeted that he wanted Twitter “to be the most respected advertising platform in the world”. But this hasn’t stopped certain brands from halting spend on their paid adverts as they wait to see what Twitter under Musk looks like. B2B businesses are right to be cautious of Musk’s takeover. A businesses’ brand identity and values are carefully curated and with Musk’s insistence on greater free speech and a more relaxed approach to disciplining users that violate rules, marketing chiefs may worry that these changes may tarnish their brand. Forty-two per cent of marketers are worried with Musk’s takeover citing concerns over brand safety and integrity.

However, with the potential for paid ads to reach up to 486 million users (and growing), businesses must consider whether they can afford to lose this massive audience. Businesses, and CMOs in particular, should also take Musk’s plans with a pinch of salt. Twitter relies hugely on paid ads and B2B marketing. Twitter’s ad revenue for Q2 of 2022 was just over $1 billion, making up more than 90% of its $1.18 billion revenue for that quarter. Even with his clickbait-worthy plans for the future of Twitter, Musk knows the value that marketing brings to the platform and will ultimately seek to protect this.

Change is always daunting and never without doubts. However, as it stands, businesses shouldn’t change their B2B marketing strategies too much. Twitter is a great platform to showcase your brand, form organic relationships and grow your audience and it’s unlikely this will change.

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