Twitter recently announced that it reached a deal to acquire newsletter platform Revue. Broadly, the deal seeks to offer increased opportunities for creators to monetize their content and kick off more audience-monetization opportunities for Twitter.
What Is Revue?
Revue is a newsletter platform that allows creators to create, customize and distribute newsletters to a proprietary list of email subscribers, and, as Revue succinctly puts it, “get paid.” The vagaries of journalism, particularly during COVID-19, has led to an uptick in newsletters by journalists and other writers looking for audiences, with Substack among the most notable newsletter platforms.
Why Did Twitter Acquire Revue?
Like many other social platforms, Twitter is looking at different avenues to help creators monetize their content, because keeping creators happy (and paid) keeps content fresh on Twitter. “Revue will accelerate our work to help people stay informed about their interests while giving all types of writers a way to monetize their audience — whether it’s through the one they built at a publication, their website, on Twitter or elsewhere,” said Kayvon Beykpour, Twitter’s product chief, and Mike Park, vice president of publisher products at Twitter in a joint statement about the purchase.
According to an article by Sarah E. Needleman for The Wall Street Journal, the purchase of Revue could also reflect Twitter’s interest in looking for alternate revenue streams, with the social platform recently speculating about the possibility of “identifying subscription opportunities,” particularly after 2020 saw slow user growth for the brand.
Beykpour and Park explain that Revue will dovetail seamlessly with Twitter, allowing people to sign up to the newsletters of their “favorite follows” directly from Twitter and driving conversations popular in newsletters back to Twitter for further engagement, either directly on the Twitter platform or via “new settings for writers to host conversations with their subscribers.” Creating two-way traffic for Twitter and creators is intended to grow subscribers, increase “conversational experiences” on Twitter and capitalize on monetization opportunities.
How Does The Twitter Acquisition Of Revue Impact Advertisers?
More action on Twitter means more eyeballs on ads, which benefits advertisers that stay the course on Twitter. It’s unclear whether there will be direct advertising opportunities because of the acquisition of Revue, with Twitter saying only to “expect audience-based monetization to be an area that we’ll continue to develop new ways to support, whether it’s helping broaden revenue streams or serving as a cornerstone of someone’s business.”
Twitter is increasing the size of the team at Revue, which will remain a stand-alone service, making Revue’s premium features free and lowering the paid newsletter fee to 5%, “a competitive rate that lets writers keep more of the revenue generated from subscriptions,” explains Park and Beykpour.
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Twitter is adding a “super” option to its service.
The social media giant announced it’s exploring a new subscription option called “super follows.”
The feature, which will likely roll out later this year, will allow content creators to charge a fee for exclusive content that won’t be shown to regular followers.
The company announced the feature in an investor presentation on Thursday, per The Guardian.
The content can vary from subscriber-only newsletters to videos and deals.
Currently, the feature is in internal testing and not available to the public, though the company said it will have “more to share” soon.
Interested users would pay a monthly fee to access the additional content. Twitter has not revealed the percentage it would cut its creators.
The move, which users and investors have been asking for, comes as Twitter aims to find ways to make money outside of advertising. It would also put Twitter on the same playing field as other subscription-based companies such as Patreon and OnlyFans.
A Twitter spokesperson said they’ve been “examining and rethinking the incentives of our service — the behaviors that our product features encourage and discourage as people participate in conversation on Twitter.”
“Exploring audience funding opportunities like Super Follows will allow creators and publishers to be directly supported by their audience and will incentivize them to continue creating content that their audience loves,” the company said in a statement.
They are also considering a tipping option, according to NBC News.
During the presentation, the company unveiled several other products including paid or free newsletters and “Twitter Spaces,” which allows users to participate in audio chats.
The company also outlined goals that included doubling its revenge by 2023.
I’m confident enough to double down on Devin Askew down the stretch. He is this team’s Point Guard. There just aren’t many options. There will be ups and downs. We want and NEED him in down the stretch. Tie game with 12:00 minutes left. Let’s win a game!
The idea presented on Friday, Super Follows, which I’ve discussed recently, suggests the development of features found on platforms such as Patreon and Substack, making it possible for followers of an account to pay to obtain a series of exclusive services, which would allow them to access group functions, newsletters, special content, offers and discounts, along with audio conversations à la Clubhouse, in addition to some kind of badge or identifier.
The idea, still with no schedule, is to be able to support payment walls that will enable an account to consider different levels of offerings, from a series of contents that are shared with everyone, to access for those who contribute economically to the activity of their creators. In short, a model of basic services plus premium services we are becoming used to for services ranging from the daily press to many other types of content, and which depends on the ability of creators to promote the growth of a conversion rate.
Persuading a Twitter follower to pay for content requires two things: firstly, that they perceive enough value in the content to want to continue accessing it when they are behind a paywall, rather than simply trying to find similar content elsewhere. This is a variable that some newspapers such as The New York Times, The Washington Post or Financial Times, or audiovisual content services such as Netflix and others have been successfully exploiting for some time now, but that has proved problematic for other media whose content is not seen as unique.
The second aspect is what I tend to call militancy: attracting users who simply want to contribute to the creation of particular content. This implies nurturing a committed community, which not only perceives value, but somehow identifies with it, feels part of it, and understands that its contribution is part of a project that goes beyond content. This is by no means simple, but it is increasingly common.
All this suggests we are seeing the emergence of a freemium economy wherein some services or content are offered for free to create the broad base of a pyramid, which then tries to seduce users with an additional offer of exclusive or premium services or content, with more or less sophisticated barriers.
For a long time, the main idea was to offer content for free, but accompanied by advertising. This model, which has suffered as a result of increasingly intrusive and annoying formats, ultimately led to freemium models such as Spotify’s, in which advertising was used as a means of punishment or torture to encourage people to pay for the service.
We’re now seeing more and more freemium models: if you want to read articles on Medium, for example, created by Evan Williams, you can read some articles, but after a certain number, you will have to subscribe, or you can only read those that the author provides a link to (the links I use to share my articles on social networks are of that type). If you want to use Evernote, created by Phil Libin, you will be able to use certain features, but others will require you to subscribe. Phil also created the wonderful mmhmmvideo conferencing software, which is offered free for education or other groups for a certain time, but after that, requires a subscription too. In both cases, Williams and Libin found that trying to fund such models through advertising was a waste of time, and that the only way to make the service viable was for users to pay to access content. The latest social network sensation, Clubhouse, seems to be going down the same road: free basic functions and a subscription to access others, coupled with incentives for creators who generate more subscriptions.
In the end, it all comes down to conversion rates: if a lot of people want to consume your content but decide to stay in the free section, you will have to consider the balance between what you give away in that section and the value you can add in the next one you offer as premium, and try to incentivize that conversion. This is an economic model that has been tried and tested for some time now, but which we will start to see everywhere.