How Twitter should change for creators
Illustration by Garrett Golightly
What Should Creator Monetization Look Like on Twitter?
It’s been a long, exhausting, maybe-a-little-exhilarating week for anyone tracking the scrapped season three episode of Succession happening at Twitter.
As Elon Musk has stepped in (and thousands of employees have stepped out), the conversation about Twitter has largely centered around efforts to make money.
Despite being one of the most influential platforms online today, Twitter has struggled to become profitable—which is at least partially a byproduct of 1) its shortage of ways for creators to monetize their content and 2) its shortage of competitive subscription models.
Musk is looking for ways to change Twitter’s profit-seeking capacity, most recently with his $8/month Twitter Blue subscription, which gives a blue checkmark to anyone willing to pay the fee. It’s fair to say the reception (and execution) has been—mixed at best.
Simply put, Elon fumbled the bag. So how might monetization be more effectively improved on Twitter? Well, since Musk tweets about “power to the people,” let’s explore what the platform might look like if the people were granted real power: How should creator monetization work on Twitter?
We (naturally) went to Twitter to ask Colin and Samir followers. Replies came from a range of creator economy experts, from YouTubers to ex-Twitter employees. Here are some of their ideas.
Idea 1: Expand Into Podcasts
The gist: Twitter beefs up its Super Follower feature by adding audio and video podcast capabilities plus stronger long-form video upload support.
–YouTube creator Dave Maze
This “BirdFeed,” as Maze dubbed it, would enable creators to post photos, standard 280-character tweets, long-form videos, live Spaces, and audio podcasts—all behind a paywall.
Subscribers would get notified any time the creator posts and could use custom emojis in replies to that creator (like Discord). Creators could also offer "subscription only" DMs to their subscribers.
This would be a doubling down of Super Follow, in effect. As it stands, Twitter’s Super Follow feature lets people see a creator’s bonus tweets and receive a badge on all their replies to the creator they follow so they stand out in conversation.
Adding in podcasts and other media gives creators more options to make exclusive content and monetize it, expanding on the conversational nature of the platform.
“Podcasting on Twitter solves a significant issue innate to audio podcasting—the lack of comments,” Maze said. “Having a reply section available to the subscribers of BirdFeed allows for the super fans of that creator to have conversations with other fans and with the creators themselves.”
Idea 2: The Pay-Per-Engagement Model
The gist: Give Twitter Blue users the ability to monetize from audience engagement and incorporate more community features like exclusive polls, members-only giveaways, and badge-like bio status (e.g., Publish Press Top Fans or MrBeast Squad).
–newsletter creator Alex Ha
“Elon has always been keen on monetizing less on advertisers and more from users,” Ha said. “My take [to achieving that] is through the ability to edit/post long-form videos/prioritize comments, and giving creators the ability to monetize their content, similar to the startup model of Tagg.id.” Tagg pays creators based on their engagement for profile views, posting content, and curating links. It also keeps a leaderboard of the most engaging profiles on the platform.
In Ha’s vision of Twitter, creators would charge their own rates for community memberships. “I can see Twitter tapping into Patreon’s and OnlyFans’ markets if they focus on creator monetization,” Ha said.
For context, Patreon made $160 million in revenue last year, while OnlyFans generated $4.8 billion in revenue in 2021. That’s near what Twitter made—roughly $5 billion last year.
But unlike Patreon, Twitter would retain a free tier in Ha’s version. “The internet runs on ads. Platforms should leave the decision for creators to decide whether a free tier is suitable for them or not.”
The introduction of monetization through engagement and through memberships could raise Twitter’s bottom line while keeping a portion of its offerings free.
Idea 3: Advertise on Viral Tweets
The gist: Place ads as the first replies to popular tweets and share revenue with creators based on views. Allow tipping on all tweets, and make room for commerce and shopping.
– ex head of creator partnerships at Twitter Katherine Rundell
Any time a viral tweet pops off, many people jokingly link to their SoundCloud or some other type of promotional material as a way for people to support them. By placing an ad as the top reply and splitting the revenue from that ad with the creator, Twitter could incentivize viral and engaging content. “This was being worked on,” Rundell added.
A couple other ideas we enjoyed: Creator Roberto Blake’s idea to monetize through fan funding of livestreams, with an 80/20 split. And our very own Colin and Samir’s idea to bundle Super Follow subscriptions so that audiences can pay for access to a group of creators, who then split the revenue.
We’re big fans of Twitter over here, and we’re not totally convinced of calls that it’s on an apparent downward trajectory. We see a silver lining: Creator monetization could re-up user engagement and help bring back lost advertisers. And regardless of outcome, creators are resilient, community-building pros—if creators build it, monetization will come.
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