The artist (sorry, er, company) formerly known as Twitter (X) just rolled out a $1 yearly fee for users in The Philippines and New Zealand. My take? What took you so long, Elon?
I’m the CEO of a public relations firm, and social media is a vital tool in my communications arsenal. I recall when Elon Musk first announced that he was going to start charging a fee for Twitter Blue (now X Premium), people and businesses complained, proclaiming they’ll ‘never pay’ for the blue check.
My assessment of these complaints? Dumb. Sooooo dumb. You’re going to stop using a successful tool because now it costs $8 a month?
Call me crazy… but if you're a marketer on X, you’re not getting $8 of value out of it? Okay. Don’t use it then, or any other social media platform that costs some nominal amount. But especially for those building a brand, $8 doesn’t seem like a huge capital investment.
Fast forward to this week and now, Musk is testing $1 a year fee for X users in two countries. That’s right. One dollar. Per year. Users shouldn’t be blinking twice at this fee. But I will bet a good percentage will still complain. What they should be doing is thanking Musk for introducing the $1 per year fee, and asking why it wasn’t implemented earlier.
Today, Musk also announced there will be two tiers of X Premium. "One is lower cost with all features, but no reduction in ads, and the other is more expensive, but has no ads."
If you're not getting a dollar’s worth of value out of X, you shouldn't be on it. The $1 yearly fee incentivizes people and businesses to question how they use X. You should be getting hundreds of dollars or thousands of dollars worth of value out of advertising, publicity, personal or business brand building. Users need to value this kind of exposure.
So why should real users gladly pay the fee? Let’s explore the reasons:
Pay to play is worth it to smack down troll and bot accounts on X
Musk’s reasoning for the $1 fee is that it’ll reduce spambots. As a user, how can I not agree with this logic? By introducing a nominal fee, spammers will have a monetary deterrent and logistical hurdle to jump through if they want to create fake accounts. Every account needs a new form of payment. I just can’t picture a spammer going to the trouble of applying for 500 different credit cards.
X is a platform for humanity’s collective consciousness. Musk has talked about it being a marketplace of ideas. We need more of this. So when X is populated by 1140 AI bots creating fake accounts, we can’t trust any message.
Anyone can make it look like there’s way more support (or non-support) for something than what exists in the real world. There’s no real way of tapping into the collective consciousness of the world because we just can’t be sure if that’s what the masses actually think or want. Spambots can create deranging conversations, spread garbage opinions, and face zero consequences. They are parasites on our collective consciousness. They are creating dishonest outcomes. And worst of all, people are making business and personal decisions based on such outcomes.
Reducing the number of bad actors who can influence the good actors just makes sense. And imposing a cost is prohibitive for the bad actors who now have to weigh the cost of creating fake accounts against the benefits they reap.
Are you a marketer on X out of an old social media habit or is it actually working for you?
When Musk started charging for the blue checkmark, rich, high-profile celebrities like LeBron James, Ben Stiller, and Stephen King all said they wouldn't pay.
Well, X is not a government service. It’s not already paid for with taxes. It is a company that has to make money. So if Stephen King wasn't getting more than ten bucks a month worth of value off of (then) Twitter, then my suggestion would be to quit X altogether.
But I have a feeling that he might have sold a few books by being on the platform.
So when that $1 a year subscription fee comes to X in North America (and it’s only a matter of time before it does), users will again be forced to evaluate their presence on the platform. And even though it’s only $1, charging for anything that used to be free will always incite negative feelings, regardless of the amount. And you know who will complain? The people who aren’t putting out anything of value.
If the cost of authenticity is $1, every X user should gladly pay it
Musk wants to make X more authentic, and less spammy. But he also wants to make money. $1 per year for users to keep all the features of X is really a small price to pay. Do people really see this as a significant cash grab? I don’t see how.
X is a business, and I hope that fair observers won’t criticize a company for trying to make a profit. The thing is, I don’t foresee $1 per year per user significantly increasing X’s profit margins. What the fee will do though, is reduce operating costs. Essentially, without this fee, X is subsidizing the accounts that make the user experience worse. Why would a company do that? It’s insane. This should have been solved pre-Elon.
The bigger picture is that X provides a benefit for a community. Critics will say that X will lose ‘so many users’ because they will choose not to pay the fee, but the reality is that Musk will actually be purging X of a bunch of useless, fake accounts. It will improve the user experience, bring authenticity to the conversation, and hopefully even save users from being scammed by spambots.
I vote for genuine interactions and reliable information. That’s worth the value of a dollar, on X.