Twitter Blue, Twitter’s paid tier, appears to be on the ice right now as the company tries to navigate how to avoid being abused by impersonators, while still promoting it as a mass-market product to build a new revenue stream among “official” users and the hundreds of millions of others who use Twitter. No biggie! In the absence of official announcements, Twitter’s new owner and CEO Elon Musk is returning to typing and pushing out social guerrilla marketing about how brands, other organizations, and the rest of us use the platform.
Yesterday Musk said in a Tweet that the company would soon “allow organizations to identify which other Twitter accounts are actually linked to them.” In later notes, he clarified that this meant organizations could manage their own affiliates and affiliate accounts, but Twitter would likely be the arbiter of what counted as a primary organization.
It’s not clear whether managing affiliates will only be a tool for organizations that pay for the privilege of using it – a la a Twitter Blue-style tier for organizations, brands and influencers – or if it’s something every verified account can do. will be able to do. Where verified blue check accounts will rank relative to paid blue check accounts is in itself still a big question mark as Twitter has made so many changes around the product over the past week that most people are now losing sight of it. are lost what’s going on.
In any case, if all goes according to plan – Twitter’s business plan as established in Tweets, that is – Twitter Blue, plus another related service that has been interrupted due to identity misuse – a current lock on authenticated users who use Twitter screen names change – should both be restored by end of the weekMusk noted.
Twitter is no doubt trying to make some lemonade out of lemons here. Musk’s tweets come after an incredibly chaotic few weeks in which the company was operating under new ownership, spearheading a different business model (focus on subscriptions and paywalls rather than just ads, while also moving from publicly traded to privately held), and in perhaps the most critical in some respects, such as last week with half the staff compared to a week before.
That meant not only sharp turns in what the company does and how it conducts business (at the latest this morning: a freeze on code changes) but very little communication about it.
Example: Twitter Blue has expanded, been trolled and abused pretty mercilessly, contracted and finally paused in just over a week. Still, the service’s own “official” Twitter account hasn’t sent any Tweets, nor made any actual announcements, since October 18th — a full 10 days before Musk closed his deal to buy the company.
On the other hand, if Musk hints at the new feature is doing being rolled out and it has to do with managing affiliate accounts (rather than eerily watching how employees discuss the company in their individual accounts), it’s actually way too late. One of the problems with Twitter was that accounts that were being impersonated usually had to proactively find and delete other accounts, and even then the process wasn’t always immediate. (Similar to abusive and harassing accounts.)
Something like that could effectively turn that problem on its head by making it easier for organizations to track and report on those unaffiliated accounts, which would be a step toward Twitter sweetening the deal to get organizations to join. to sign up to (and pay for?) “official” levels, and for Twitter to boost its credibility with brands and organizations, which seems pretty bad at the moment.
Indeed, just as it is downright difficult for us ordinary people to place much faith in what might happen, so too have brands and organizations been left out in the cold.
We passed on some research to us from battenhall, a London-based marketing agency working with brands and businesses on social media strategy. It exposes the state of Twitter’s current interface with commercial organizations. In short, like the rest of Twitter right now, it’s everywhere.
One of Twitter’s attempts to clear up the confusion (hah) between paid “Blue” accounts, the pre-existing blue-check verification status, and impersonations that rioted and exploited the Blue paid tier was to create a create “two-factor authentication” route, where “real” accounts were marked with both “official” comments and blue check marks.
But if we take only the FTSE 100 top UK companies, Battenhall found that only 23% of them had achieved that dual verification status by the end of Friday.
In addition, 39% of FTSE 100 companies had only one blue tick verification. But as Battenhall founder Drew Benvie pointed out to me, “That could be a verified account or a Twitter Blue account for pay for verification at $8 per month.” Sound inconsistent? In addition, 38% of FTSE 100 companies had no form of verification at all.
“Burberry, the brand with the most followers on Twitter in the FTSE 100, has not achieved ‘official’ white tick status, making it as prominent as $8 Twitter Blue subscribers,” Benvie added. Burberries Twitter account, which does have the blue check mark, has about 8.2 million followers. Phoenix Group, with 4,100 followers, has the smallest following of the FTSE 100 companies with 4,100 followers, but does have two-factor authentication. Other FTSE 100 organizations with the double include AstraZeneca, BP, Diageo, Sainsburys, Tesco and Vodafone.
“There’s no clear pattern on which accounts are verified, officially or even really who they say they are, as blue checks can be bought for £6.99 or $8,” Benvie noted. “I believe (although I don’t categorically know) that the verification situation at the moment is more or less arbitrary, in the sense that certain brands – large and small, large advertisers and small advertisers – see different levels of verification. I would expect people to make decisions based on this, as opposed to an algorithm, but as far as I know the rationale is not communicated to the brands involved.”
They are not the only ones not getting communication. We’ve reached out to Twitter for comment on this story – as we have for all of our coverage – but have not yet received a response. We will update this post as soon as we hear from the company.