You may have heard… Earlier this week, Elon Musk bought Twitter for about $44 billion. He now owns a collection of companies, including Tesla and SpaceX. Musk sports over 80 million followers on Twitter and has long used the platform to hype up his brands or investments of interest, while simultaneously being critical of the network’s policies toward moderation.
In a statement, Musk said, “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated. I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam pots, and authenticating all humans.” He went on to say in a tweet, “By ‘free speech’, I simply mean that which matches the law. I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law.”
It’s not often that we see entire social networks purchased by billionaires, so doubtless, many of you are wondering what this means to you? Will this impact your strategies? The effectiveness of your tweets? How will it impact your business or your clients?
That’s what we’re covering in today’s special episode of Agency Accelerated.
We are live every other Wednesday at 2:00 pm ET / 11:00 am PT on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Make sure to subscribe to the calendar on the Agorapulse website so you don’t miss any episodes.
Today on Agency Accelerated, I’m joined by a distinguished expert in the social media space to help us consider and understand this week’s events.
Darryl Praill is the CMO at Agorapulse. He is a funny, high-energy, in-demand event host and panel moderator, a Top 50 keynote speaker, an accomplished award-winning marketer and creator, a social media influencer, and a serial entrepreneur. Darryl has raised $100 million in venture capital and has only been fired once.
Darryl is a long-time user of Twitter and just hit his 14th anniversary on the platform. When he read Elon Musk purchased Twitter, his initial reaction was that it was a bad idea. While Elon has a passion for free speech, users signing up on Twitter accept certain terms of service and understand what they’re getting into.
As Darryl considered the purchase more, he believed it would be interesting to see what happens. Will the platform take a hard shift toward Elon’s unfettered belief in free speech? And how will the purchase impact advertisers?
We saw how the most recent presidency impacted advertisers and brands, so we know the advertising game will change. Twitter has significant growth plans, and Elon Musk wants to change the business model entirely. The question is, how much?
Advertisers and brands want to know who they’re affiliated with. When we talk about content moderation, advertisers want to know if their ad dollars promote the message they want behind a certain story. When changes like this are made, advertisers will stop and wonder if they need to shift their dollars.
Right now, we just don’t know what is going to happen. But agencies should have a plan B in place if things go south. Consider ways to redistribute your funds so you can move quickly to other social media channels to achieve your goals.
Should we take Elon Musk’s statements and motives at face value?
The question now is if we should take Elon Musk’s statements and motives at face value. Or are there other reasons behind his purchase of Twitter?
Elon has an incredible propensity to play the system, create the hype, and create campaigns in the press, whether intentional or unintentional, to draw a lot of attention to himself, which attracts investors. He understands how the game is played.
However, he’s been accused and fined for some of his tweets, manipulating the market. We’ve seen him buy and sell based on things he’s said that have affected stock prices.
Because of that, it’s hard to know what he’s planning. We know he’s interested in subscriptions, which will be a hard sell when all the other social networks are free. And how is our data going to be impacted?
Other angles to consider are Elon’s promise to remove bots. What does that mean for platforms like Agorapulse, who schedule tweets? Or moderators within different communities and threads?
While he may try to reduce bots, it will likely cause them to go in different directions. The only way to totally eliminate bots is to implement draconian tactics, and we’ve seen what that does in countries like Russia or China. Where does freedom of speech begin and end?
Overall, it’s unlikely that social media managers or agencies will see any short-term impact. At worst, they may experience a minor pullback from incredibly cautious clients.
We’ve seen in the past advertisers pull their money away from other mediums when there is conflict, but as soon as the conflict passes, they’re back on that channel. Chances are, history is going to repeat itself now with Twitter.
Once the deal is completed, we likely won’t see any changes for six months. This is common during company acquisitions, where it takes time for changes to be implemented.
As a social media manager, take a look at different reports for your clients from a year ago to today:
- How is their Twitter activity performing?
- What messages are being downplayed?
- Is their reach being impacted?
One way to see these highlights is through Agorapulse’s Reporting Tool.
The purchase of Twitter may force us to be more specific about our targeting and those who we follow and engage with. In fact, it may foster better “best practices” that we all need to do as platform users. As an agency or social media manager, it’s your job to educate your clients on what to expect. Ensure they understand what they’re getting into, so there are no surprises.
As for the long-term changes on Twitter, we are confident the edit button is coming. Darryl also believes the platform will start experimenting with different advertising models.
There also may be new abilities to identify the people you want to target. If Elon truly wants to pursue unfettered freedom of speech, there need to be tools to allow users to better control what appears on their feed.
Most agencies will not see any changes for the next six months to a year. It will be the status quo. Then, we’ll likely see a few tweaks to the platform. Elon wants to make a splash, but he may wait before making any major changes after that.
Some questions to think about are:
- Will Twitter remain the go-to platform for social discourse, especially in all things related to politics?
- Will Twitter morph into something completely different, and if so, what will replace the platform?
- Will we see a mass exodus of users?
- What differences in content will we see?
As we said before, focus on performance growth and consider a plan B if, all of a sudden, Twitter goes crazy. If you need to redirect funds, what investments do you need? What skills, resources, or content will you need to do that?
Use this as an opportunity to show your clients how strategic you are and how you’re thinking outside of the box to include your paid media teams. Because again, this is going to impact their advertising campaigns.
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[00:00:00] StephanieLiu: Hey, you may have heard earlier this week that Elon Musk bought Twitter for 44 billion dollars. He now owns a collection of companies, including Tesla, SpaceX, my goodness. He sports over 80 million followers on Twitter and has long used the platform to hype up his brands or investments of interest while simultaneously being critical of the network’s policies towards moderation.
[00:00:26] In a recent statement Musk also said, free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy. And Twitter is a digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated. I also want to make Twitter better than everybody enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms source to increase trust, defeating the spams, bots and authenticating all humans.
[00:00:51] He went on to say it a tweet, by free speech, I simply mean that which matches the law. I’m against censorship that goes far beyond the law. [00:01:00] Now, it’s not often that we see entire social media networks purchased by a billionaire. So doubtless, many of you are wondering, what does this mean to you as a strategist, as an agency, as a brand? Will this impact your strategies?
[00:01:13] What about the effectiveness of your tweets, your messages, your campaigns? How will it even impact your business or even your clients? That’s what we’re covering in today’s special episode of Agency Accelerated.
[00:01:49] Welcome back to Agency Accelerated, the show for agencies who want to get bigger. So stick with us to learn how you can simplify your growth strategy with practical tips from the marketing pros. Everyone, [00:02:00] I’m Stephanie Liu, and I’m here in sunny, San Diego. Those of you watching live right now, let us know where you’re tuning in from in the comments.
[00:02:07] I’d love to see your name pop up. And if you’re watching the replay, go ahead and leave a comment with #replay. So today on Agency Accelerated, I’m joined by a distinguished expert in the social media space to help us consider and understand this week’s events, because I want to know how is this going to impact me, my agency, as well as my clients.
[00:02:28] So Darrell Praill is the CMO at Agorapulse. He’s a funny, high energy, in-demand event host and panel moderator. He’s a top 50 keynote speaker, an accomplished award-winning marketer and creator, a social media influencer in his own right, and a serial entrepreneur. Darryl has raised a hundred million dollars in revenue in venture capital and only been fired once.
[00:02:51] Shout out to the producer for putting that in there. Thank you, Mike. How you doing? [00:03:00] I’m doing good. Like I said, I wish I got the black top memo, cause then we would have been matching, but it’s all good. I’m digging the new studio all the time.
[00:03:09] DarrylPraill: Ah you’re looking rather stellar. I got to say. I’m actually jealous and I was coveting your polish as you kicked off this show. You are a natural.
[00:03:18] StephanieLiu: Appreciate it. So if that’s so much, and guess what? We’ve got Jen Cole in the comments, she says, hey there. So, hello friend. Nice to have you here. So Darryl, I know in Slack, I was hitting you up. I was like, did you read this? What do you think about this? How is this going to impact advertisers?
[00:03:35] And so my question to you and this whole Elon Musk, Twitter, all the things, what’s your initial reaction to the purchase?
[00:03:42] DarrylPraill: My initial reaction is selfish, right? So you’re asking, I’ll give you my reaction and then I’ll give you the reaction what I think is going to happen. My reaction is I thought that was a bad idea.
[00:03:53] I just had my Twitter-versary, not too many months ago where I was 14 years on Twitter. So I’m a long [00:04:00] time user. And I thought Elon Musk, oh brother. Because, I get why he’s doing it. I understand his passion for free speech, but I do understand every person signs up to Twitter and they accept a Terms of Service.
[00:04:13] They know what they’re getting into. So from my point of view, this is going to be really interesting to see what happens. It’s going to be interesting to see does the platform take a hard shift. With his strong belief in unfettered free speech. How does that impact the advertisers? If you’re a brand, are you willing to put your brand out there? And we’ve got lots of experience at this, we can see all that happened in the most recent presidency and how that affected advertisers, whether there was an impeachment going on networks like Fox or otherwise. So we know that the advertising game is going to play here. Twitter’s got big growth plans. Elon Musk wants to change the business model entirely.
[00:04:55] If I’m an advertiser, I’m going to hold my breath. I’m going to see what [00:05:00] happens, but I’m going to be ready to pull that parachute very quickly if it doesn’t go the way I think it’s gonna go.
[00:05:05] Very true.
[00:05:06] StephanieLiu: That was one of the things that I was reading in Marketing Drive yesterday as well. And Forrester Research had said the same thing. They’re saying basically advertisers and brands want to know who they’re affiliated with.
[00:05:16] And when we talk about things about content moderation are my ad dollars. Are they promoting the message that I want behind a certain story? And so when you take out that moderation or you make certain changes without making your consumers, especially your advertisers, they’re investing their paid media budget behind it, it makes them stop and pause and wonder do I need to shift these dollars? And so for all of you strategists, all of you agencies, I would be taking a look at your social media strategies for 2022 and think about, do I need to shift this? In fact, Jen Cole, who was in the comment, she said, she’s so excited for this conversation.
[00:05:52] She says I’ve been wary of the whole situation just because he’s so cryptic.
[00:05:59] So [00:06:00] Darryl, what do you think? Should we take Elon Musk, his statements and motives at face value? Or are there other reasons behind the purchase that you suspect? Let’s go like inception mode at this point.
[00:06:11] DarrylPraill: So Elon, God bless them. I’m trying to remember all of his citizenships, but I know one of them is Canadian I’m Canadian. So therefore, there we go, Canadian American, et cetera. He’s an interesting cat. He is, how do I put this carefully? I equate him a little bit to the W.C .Fields of the day, where he has an incredible propensity to play the system, to create the hype, to create campaigns in the press, whether it’s intentional or unintentional, to actually draw a lot of attention to himself, which draws investors.
[00:06:39] So he understands how the game is played. He also has been accused and been fined some serious dollars for his tweets, manipulating the market. We’ve seen him buy and sell based on things he’s said that have affected stock prices. So when I look at all of that, I don’t know what he’s doing. We know he’s interested in subscriptions and that’s going to be a hard [00:07:00] sell when all the other social networks are free. So the other thing is, I’m looking at Twitter users, are they comfortable with their data, and how that’s going to be impacted by him? I don’t know. What I do know is that I’ve never seen somebody better at actually keeping us guessing and talking about him.
[00:07:19] So if you’re in the PR game, this is a chess game going on right here. I’m keen to watch, but I’m nervous as hell. And then to your point, I would have a plan B if I was you. If things go south how you can redistribute your funds so you can move quickly to the other channels to achieve your goals.
[00:07:38] What I will share was interesting. I was on LinkedIn just yesterday and they did a major poll about, are you feeling good about this or not? Or otherwise. Are you excited about it? And it was like a third were really feeling good about it. And a third we’re really scared about it. And then you had everybody else.
[00:07:56] So what you have is you’ve got a lot of, this is splitting the [00:08:00] population, or they’re not sure what to expect from this. We have a strong, I don’t know taking place here, Stephanie.
[00:08:07] StephanieLiu: I feel like we could have a whole entire series. So Okay. So Darryl, let’s go ahead and powow real quick. What just happened?
[00:08:14] But having said that there’s a Facebook user, I’m sorry, I don’t see your name, but this was a really good comment. So this user says, Elon Musk has said that he would delete bots that post on Twitter. Could he consider Agorapulse a bot and not allow marketers to schedule tweets? That’s a great question to ask, knowing that we’re a SaaS company and whatnot.
[00:08:31] What are your thoughts? Do you think Elon is going to do anything to the APIs and all of that?
[00:08:36] DarrylPraill: Yeah, I think he’s going to fine tune it. I really genuinely do. And I think he may try to crack down on bots. But here’s the thing, he raised $44 billion and he’s got it tied tightly to Tesla. So at the end of the day, he’s still a business person and he still needs to make money.
[00:08:51] I know he’s saying he wants to possibly, complete. Cause here’s the thing, people don’t fully understand this, right? When he buys it, that board is [00:09:00] gone. Like he is the sole power, but he does have investors. He’s got to make money. $44 billion, a lot of this is paper money, and that’s what’s keeping me sane right now that the end of the day, he still has to make money.
[00:09:14] I think he will reduce the bots, but I think you’ve seen over and over again, as every other platform has tried to reduce the bots. They may have reduced the noise a little bit, but in the end, all it’s done is caused them to go different directions. The only way to totally eliminate them is to get
[00:09:28] incredibly draconian and you can see what’s happening in countries like Russia or China. What they have to create a second internet layer, basically to try to stop all those bots. So I don’t think he can stop them. I think he can slow it down and I don’t think it’s a bad thing. The question is which bots does he stop, Stephanie? Does he stop the ones who are pro free speech or the ones who want to moderate a conversation?
[00:09:50] StephanieLiu: That’s exactly what I was thinking. Because when you think about these internal communities, these private boards where they want to validate your process, your systems, and all the different things, I [00:10:00] still think about when Mark Zuckerberg was sitting in front of Congress trying to explain how they make money. So I’m curious to see how this is going to play out. And having said that, shout out to Heidi Osbourne Garland, who asked that question? Thank you so much. Darryl, here’s another question for you.
[00:10:15] What do you think the short-term impact will be on social media managers and agencies?
[00:10:21] DarrylPraill: Nothing. I think there’ll be nothing. At worse, I think you may see a minor pullback on some people who are incredibly cautious once the deal is fully consummated, but I really don’t think there’ll be any change short-term because Twitter’s too powerful. It’s too important. It is the place to go. If that’s, one of your primary markets you want to serve and talk to, I don’t think there’d be any change at all. But again, going back to what I said, I do think people will be pulling that shoot real quickly.
[00:10:52] They’re gonna be watching it fast and even then, let’s be candid. We have seen over and over again, what happens in other mediums and advertising [00:11:00] spend where there may be conflict and those people pull their money away. But as soon as the conflict passes, then they’re back into that channel again.
[00:11:08] I think the history’s going to repeat itself.
[00:11:10] StephanieLiu: Yeah. Honestly, when I think about company acquisitions and how long it actually takes for changes to be implemented, it’s very bureaucratic in the sense of finding out who plays, what who’s on first base, how things work out. And if there were going to be changes to be implemented, you’re probably looking at, I don’t know, what do you think they’re like, six months or so to really see changes? Yeah. I think if you’re talking about industries, ones that are going to be really hypersensitive, as far as the activity that’s going to be happening on Twitter, I’m thinking of campaign managers. I’m thinking of politicians. If that was my clientele, I would literally sit there and say to my social media team, I need you to report back to me.
[00:11:52] How is my Twitter activity performing a year ago from today with all these different changes that are [00:12:00] happening? Are my messages being downplayed? Is my reach being impacted? I think for that particular vertical, I think that’s where a lot of these social media managers and agencies may want to pay attention to.
[00:12:14] And the nice thing is that, obviously Agorapulse has that reporting for us. So you can dive in and take a look.
[00:12:19] DarrylPraill: One of the things I’m going to be curious to see what happens is, Musk has had the luxury of sitting on the sidelines and expressing his point of view and apining. And we can have a point of view whether you agree with him or not. That’s not where I’m going. Where I’m going is he was a bystander. Now he’s the guy and to your point, Stephanie, when the vocal participants in the social conversations say, I think you’re suppressing me. I know you bought it. I had great hopes for you Elon, but my message just isn’t getting enough traction like it used to do. And I think you’re suppressing me.
[00:12:55] We’ve seen over and over again, that those who feel the press about a [00:13:00] lack of free speech are the first to eat their own offspring. When it comes to people not towing the company line. I want to see how Elon’s going to react when all of a sudden, he’s on the other side now. He’s not a bystander. He’s the target of people saying you are still manipulating this.
[00:13:18] I don’t believe you. How’s he going to respond to that? But for the rest of that, I think what it’s going to force us to do is just to get much more specific about our targeting and those who we follow and engage with. I think it’s actually, in some regards, it may foster some better, best practices that we need to do as users of the platform. For social media, if this is what you do all day long, obviously as an agency, that is, my best advice to you is you need to educate your clients on what to expect and make sure they understand what they’re getting into so there’s no surprises.
[00:13:47] StephanieLiu: I often think about social media strategists when they put together their strategies and their plans are probably reading jab, hook, and all the different things. But now we have to consider what has changed about the platform? What do they [00:14:00] stand for? What are they used for? And so having said that, Darryl, what do you think the longterm changes could possibly be for Twitter? What do you think might happen?
[00:14:10] DarrylPraill: Okay. I think we know pretty confidently the edit button’s coming.
[00:14:18] And if you don’t believe me, just, make sure you post something and spell it wrong. All right. Let’s see what happens. So the edit button’s coming, I’m feeling confident about that one. That’s the first change I see happening. I think they will experiment with different advertising models. I do think that’s going to happen including no revenue at all, but I just don’t think that will sustain.
[00:14:35] I think as well, you may see them introduce more abilities to identify the people you want to target. I think if we’re going to have a pursuit of certain, how do I put this, unfettered freedom of speech, I think they’re going to need to put in tools to allow the actual [00:15:00] users to better control what appears on their timeline.
[00:15:04] And that’s going, that would be a radical change for Twitter.
[00:15:07] StephanieLiu: That would be different. That would be different. I’m thinking about it.
[00:15:10] DarrylPraill: I’m thinking that it will be the Facebook approach where everything is, optimized. And we’re going to tell you what you want to say.
[00:15:16] StephanieLiu: Yes. Okay. That’s exactly where I was going.
[00:15:18] And I was also thinking about how Instagram had been testing the different views that you could have for your feed as well. In fact, Jen Cole, who’s in the commentary she’s saying I’ve been subscribing to Twitter Blue and loving the ability to edit tweets right before they go live. I think we’ve all been victims of that, but what do we all agree that the ones with the typos are generally the ones with the most engagement?
[00:15:41] DarrylPraill: Of course. Half of them are people saying you typed wrong, but that’s an aside. It’s still engaged.
[00:15:47] StephanieLiu: That’s very true. So Darryl, any final thoughts on the future of Twitter?
[00:15:52] DarrylPraill: No. In all honesty, as much as I wish he wasn’t the owner, that’s just my own personal bias. I don’t think anything’s changed. I think for every single agency [00:16:00] out there it’s for the next six months to a year, at least you’re going to see status quo.
[00:16:04] I think you’ll see a few minor tweaks. We’ve talked about the edit button. Maybe you’ll see a few key people come back on the platform. But other than that, I don’t think you’ll see a lot because he’s not stupid. He wants to make a little bit of a splash and then he wants to see what happens. But longer term where I am keen, Stephanie, I would love your thoughts on that is, does it remain the go-to platform for social discourse, especially in all things related to politics amongst other areas? Or does it morph into something completely different? And if it does, what replaces Twitter? That’s my question for you.
[00:16:46] StephanieLiu: Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. Are we going to see a mass Exodus of users? And if we do, what kind of users are those? I’m thinking about anytime I had to pitch an article. We’re a PR [00:17:00] team or a journalist. They generally hang out on Twitter. And so I’m curious with everything that’s happening, would they migrate somewhere else?
[00:17:10] Would they see any differences in the content that they’re pushing out? So it’ll be interesting to see what happens? I do agree with you that in the short term, we probably might not see a lot of different changes other than the edit button, but as far as strategists, when I’m sitting there and I’m going to hop on a call with my client this afternoon, and they’re going to say, hey, so what do you think about the whole Elon Musk and Twitter thing?
[00:17:35] I would probably say the same thing that you and I just talked about today. Short-term, long-term, this is what we can focus on now. This is what we’re going to measure in the meantime. This is the performance that we’ve seen in the past few years for our particular vertical. And if we notice any differences and we can let you know. But as far as that, that would be my day-to-day as a strategist.
[00:17:55] DarrylPraill: Yeah. The only thing I would add to that is I would introduce the conversation, which actually, by the way, this [00:18:00] is a good conversation to have, whether it’s Twitter or anything else is what’s our plan B? So, if something goes wrong, so if all of a sudden Twitter goes nuts, all crazy for whatever reason. Cause you can’t anticipate it. Then, where do we want to redirect these funds? What investments do we need? What skills or resources or content or whatever that we need to do that? And that candidly, that’s advertising 101. We’ve seen over and over again where, whether it’s television or any other advertising platform or engagement platform, it’s just the life cycle that there’s interesting times and there’s quiet times. And sometimes in interesting times, you may not want to be seen at that party. But you still have a need and you still need to drive your revenues or your engagement or whatnot. Candidly, if I’m an agency, I’m actually a little bit excited about this because now I can actually go back and be that proactive source of wise counsel and say, we just need to have plan and it will spark a great conversation and it will [00:19:00] impart upon the clients that you truly are a strategic partner looking out for their best interests.
[00:19:05] And that’s a whole other conversation that every agency leader wants to have. We want to be more and more sticky, more and more trusted. More and more part of the process. This is a good excuse.
[00:19:15] StephanieLiu: There you go. What? Yes. Thank you for the sound effects is exactly what I was looking for. Philip Carr is also in the comments and she says, you need a plan B for every social platform these days. Use this as an opportunity to show with your clients, how strategic you are and how you’re thinking outside of the box. Include your paid media teams because again, this is going to impact their advertising campaigns. All right, Darryl,, this has been awesome. Thank you so much for geeking out with me this morning.
[00:19:44] All right, friend. That’s all that we have for today. Be sure to join us in about an hour for our regularly scheduled show. It’s going to be an interview with the amazing Brie Anderson and we’re going to deep dive into Google Analytics. I’m actually quite curious to see what she has to say about Twitter as well.
[00:19:59] So [00:20:00] having said that, I’ll see you in just a little bit, and not only that I’ll see you and your agency accelerating into the next show. Thanks.