Reactions: Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter

“How much damage can happen when one man with an agenda runs a major media outlet? Just look at Rupert Murdoch,” global keynote marketing speaker Samuel Scott told Marketing Beat.

Last week, news broke that Twitter had accepted an unsolicited bid from business magnate Elon Musk in a transaction valued at $44 billion. The social media company unanimously agreed to a purchase price that represented a 38% premium to Twitter’s closing stock price on 1 April, the last trading day before Musk disclosed his 9% stake in Twitter.

The acquisition will add to Musk’s plethora of business ventures such as SpaceX, Tesla, The Boring Company and Neuralink.

Since the announcement of the buyout, marketing professionals and members of the public have been reacting to Musk’s promise that he will liberate the social media app and its users.

“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,” Musk said.

“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 bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”

Musk also recently tweeted that brands and “commercial users” may have to pay to use Twitter.

He wrote: “Ultimately, the downfall of the Freemasons was giving away their stone-cutting services for nothing. Twitter will always be free for casual users, but maybe a slight cost for commercial/government users.”

This decision to charge businesses will likely affect marketers across the globe who had previously paid nothing to promote their client’s brands.

On the whole, what impact will this acquisition have on the advertising industry and the various agencies involved with the app?

Marketing Beat delves into the opinions of marketing professionals from across the industry.

READ MORE: Elon Musk buys Twitter for $44 billion

Danny Denhard, marketing growth coach and trainer 

Denhard had this to say about the acquisition:

“Elon Musk has kept his cards close to his chest when it comes to suggesting how he wants to drive the business forward. With that said I expect Twitter could become less advertising reliant. A move away from advertising would likely improve the product as even more brands and influential accounts may begin to use the platform.

A potential subscription service could offer many unique opportunities for brands and agencies to build out subscriptions and safe offerings without having to build or buy an external platform or build a community on Discord.”

“The buyout may also cause the app to become more decentralised. Decentralisation is something Elon Musk and the product team could decide to implement. We could see numerous Twitter clients and services being built upon. This means more monetisation, innovation and abilities to offer Twitter as a build-your-own version of the social media app.

“If a niche Twitter is built, richer data will be on offer for marketing departments to play with and thus the ability to target consumers will become much more efficient.

“The social media platform could also become coin and token-based. Twitter is placed well within the crypto and web3 communities and also fits alongside Reddit and Discord. By being the home for emerging markets we could see more technology being implemented. The app could become a place in which brands release their own ventures into coins and tokens, transacting with a thriving and expanding community.”

“We should expect the buyout to be a disruptive change, as Elon Musk has no fear for change or optimisation. The entrepreneur is known for solving complex issues. If Musk can revolutionise the car market and send rockets to space, Twitter will be something he and his team could easily reshape. This could mean improving the advertising product by offering pay-to-play services to brands, resulting in richer and more interactive media offerings.”

“However, brands may not need Twitter, especially if the potential new founder has dividing comments and opinions. Many brands could actively choose not to advertise on Twitter. It has been a platform that many companies have departed ways with or simply left to automation.”

“There is also something many people may have forgotten… Twitter is a 15-year-old social media platform and has struggled with anonymous and pseudonymous accounts for the duration. Working through this is going to be a long process to un-weave, however, this could mean more verification and more trust across the platform, enabling a safer place for brands to play in and trust.

“Elon was vocal about free speech and being the platform for this. Although free speech makes sense, unfortunately on platforms like Twitter and the known troll and abuse problem, this could negatively impact the platform and make it an even more toxic application. For all of the first-to-third order thinking with Twitter, brand leaders should definitely stay vigilant of the potential changes as the platform could become an unsafe space for many brands.

“In spite of all this, Twitter is uniquely placed in how it still influences media, culture and revolutions. It is a place in which you have to become creative to gain any engagement. Musk’s new Twitter should embrace external links and host longer content as it is a default social network for so many news hubs. By embracing this idea of establishing a “creative space”, the app can win back marketing teams and have a real impact across the marketing funnel.

“We still have six months for the sale to go through or for Elon to drop out and pay a $1 billion termination fee. However, with all of the threats, there are some real opportunities if the sale were to go through.”

READ MORE: Elon Musk warns brands may have to pay to use Twitter

Dan Coleman, Starcom strategy director and media context expert

Coleman sides with Denhard in believing that Musk’s purchase of Twitter offers the marketing industry a rather “mixed bag” of opportunity.

“There are a lot of positives. Musk’s impressive record of shaking up complacent categories with Tesla and Space X promises some much needed competitiveness and freshness in social media. He has already outlined some great initiatives such as making the algorithm public and asking users to prove they are not bots. Meta having some more serious competition can only be a good thing for advertisers.”

“I guess there are some concerns about the implications of Musk’s obsession with “free speech”. We want the internet to be inclusive and a safe place in which brands can thrive. The new owner himself did once use the platform to describe one of the heroes rescuing school children trapped in a Thai cave as a ‘pedo guy.’”

“Given he alone is deciding the direction of the company, I feel that the marketing industry would appreciate a more grown up and responsible approach to what is acceptable. Equally, if this absolute commitment to “free speech” creates an opportunity to spread falsehoods and undermine democracy, then the situation is troubling. On balance though, this is potentially good news for advertisers and consumers.”

It seems the jury is still out on whether Elon Musk will benefit agencies and their use of Twitter to grow brands and boost their business.

With the deal set to be completed by the end of the year, marketers may just have to wait and see.

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