Twitter is going to help users make money from tweets

26 Feb 2021

Image: © wachiwit/Stock.adobe.com

Super Follows will allow users to charge for content like newsletters and bonus tweets, in a similar vein to Patreon.

Twitter plans to roll out a slew of new features including a way to charge for tweets and community groups for users.

Super Follows is a feature that allows Twitter users to charge for extra content. The feature borrows from Patreon’s model and incentivises users to create premium content on Twitter, such as bonus tweets or subscriptions to newsletters.

The new feature was presented as part of Twitter’s analyst day, with an example of a user charging $4.99 a month for premium content.

Newsletters have caught the eye of Twitter of late. It recently acquired Dutch start-up Revue, a newsletter creation platform akin to Substack for writers and creators to build their own newsletters and charge subscriptions for them.

The social media company is also getting into the live audio streaming game with Twitter Spaces, which it began testing in December. The feature will allow for audio discussions among users and could provide a serious threat to new player Clubhouse given Twitter’s established user base, if it manages to take off.

Both Spaces and newsletters are likely to be key parts of Twitter’s Super Follows strategy, though the company hasn’t announced a launch date yet for the premium feature.

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Dantley Davis, head of design and research, said these changes are part of Twitter’s efforts to reorganise the incentives for people to use the platform.

“Audience-funding models, by virtue of allowing talented content creators to earn from their audience, motivates them to continue creating great content that their audience loves,” Davis said.

“But our focus is also to ensure that we’re evolving our product so that it incentivises and amplifies healthy and positive discourse, and that it disincentivises toxic and jerk-like behaviour.”

The other major feature revealed during the analyst presentation is Communities. Similar to Facebook groups, Communities will be groups that Twitter users can build and add people to, all based around specific interests.

For Twitter, the groups will be a way to engage and retain more users beyond the stream of tweets on the main feed. At the same time, Communities will also come with its own content moderation challenges. Facebook has faced this challenge in its groups where users have spread disinformation or abusive content in a closed-off environment.

Twitter has not put a timeline in place for rolling out Communities yet but coupled with Super Follows, newsletters and Spaces, the company is preparing a radical change in the way people use its platform by bringing models similar to Patreon, Clubhouse and Substack all under one roof.

The company has been investing heavily in research and development to build new products and services that reduce its dependence on advertising for revenue.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin

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