The Future of Monetizing Social Media

Elon Musk is brilliant, we all know that much. 

He is a true world-class entrepreneur. He has a wicked sense of humor, is the foremost African American (born in South Africa), and is as close to a First Amendment absolutist as they come. Thank goodness he bought the failing and politically biased Twitter and is in the process of fixing it by eliminating the censorship and trying to make it financially viable. We await with bated breath the now-regular file drops, proving what we suspected all along. More power to him. 

The Left, of course, does not like this and now detests him. That alone demonstrates he is doing the right thing. 

Realize Musk has successfully built numerous companies: Tesla for electric vehicles and SpaceX for discovery of the universe. He is the founder of the Boring Company, co-founder of Neuralink and Open AI, was co-founder of Pay-Pal, and of course, is (or was) the richest person in the world on some days. He also has his own philanthropic foundation. Obviously he is busy being a genius and inventing. 

Twitter cost him $44 billion and he didn’t buy it on a lark. That’s a lot of money, even for him. He wanted it to transform social interaction and allow real dialogue. “The reason I acquired Twitter,” he said, “is [that] it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence.” Musk is a classical liberal, not a rigid ideologue. First and foremost, he is an innovative businessman of the rarest breed. 

Aside from firing a lot of lazy asses, and cutting back on frills, board salaries, and perks—which is a start—now he has to come up with a winning plan for his acquisition. 

I thought I would help him, since he says he is trying to hire a new CEO.

The blue check gimmick, charging for the privilege of the platform’s imprimatur, sounded good in theory, but it blew up. At $20 a month it would have been a cash cow. So advertisers, for the time being, remain the biggest part of the present revenue model and he will want to keep most of them and get more. Even political and cause-related ads should be viable in the new regime. But long term, he will need more fuel to do what he said he wants to achieve. Advertisers are fickle—they come and go, and their budgets aren’t locked in. 

Looking at the financials and valuation of the company, Musk needs to convince the market and turn it around. He has to do this in a politically charged environment with a lot of people, including the SEC and Justice Department, looking over his shoulder. Clearly, he also has his detractors, hoping to see him falter and fail. 

Twitter, Inc. is a global platform for public expression and real-time conversation. Musk wants to fulfill that mission. The company’s products and services include “Promoted Ads,” “Twitter Amplify,” “Follower Ads,” and “Twitter Takeover.” The company’s promoted ads include objective-based features that allow advertisers to optimize for the goal selected by the advertisers, such as tweet engagements (e.g., retweets, replies, and likes), website traffic, mobile application installs or engagements, obtaining new followers, or video views. 

Promoted ads appear within a timeline, search results, profile pages, and tweet conversations. Follower ads provide a way for the company’s advertisers to build and grow an audience that is interested in their business, products, or services. This is pay-for-performance advertising priced through an auction. Its “Twitter Takeover” product appears at the top of the list of trending topics or timeline for an entire day in a particular country.

Needless to say, Twitter has had a volatile year with Musk’s acquisition and the necessary removal of key executives. Its 52-week high was $61.16 and low $33.20. It traded in around $53 with few buy recommendations and some sell suggestions from the analyst community when it was taken private and delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. Fidelity cut its valuation to just over $23 billion in an end-of-the-year analysis.

Assuming Elon is not burning money or just on a goofy crusade, he needs to make Twitter viable, profitable, and more widely used. At this moment, Twitter has 369 million users worldwide, with about 56 million users in the United States, and it still wants to grow its footprint. 

Here is a way to do that, that serves all these purposes, and works to keep an open conversation cancel-free and alive for all parties and people of every persuasion. 

Twitter needs to track emotional perceptions proving that “chatter matters.” 

Using patented AI to measure sentiment and emotions, Twitter has the opportunity to become the facilitator to build and maintain authentic relationships with various communities in the United States and worldwide. Twitter could champion scaling business development for small niche creators by automatically connecting and engaging the sentimentally active community with curated content and sponsored product offers.

Twitter could monetize its user base by providing specific brand analytics tracking sentiments from Twitter communities related to products, services, and brands. 

Twitter could build a community sentiment score through the boosting of short video content to keep user’s feeds focused on preferences that keep it fresh, promote the unexpected, or appear immersive. This would need to be truly content driven by user preferences and feedback. 

Digital engagement is now—not in some distant future, and Twitter is well-positioned. Capturing engagement and the sentiment attached, real-time, is highly valuable.

In any given constituency, engagement on issues, policy, persons, and trends in real-time draws contributions, voting, and purchases. Engagement affects votes, preferences, and economic decisions. Those conversations or “relationships” with a community are by definition not one-way. They are two-way. Therefore, running social ads is only half of the game. 

Twitter needs to play the whole game. It needs to curate online sentiment and thereby grow communities. This will better engage groups and optimize their digital marketing spend. Twitter could automatically follow and send curated content to specific sentimentally active users across their own and other online platforms. 

Supercharging debates on all views and at and after rallies and events, through viral engagement, would put Twitter at the center of the sentiment hub. Picture never-ending viral rallies as extended conversations on Twitter. Are you listening Donald Trump? Ron DeSantis? 

Twitter is able to authentically initiate and boost geo-fenced social and email connections related to peaks and valleys. The ad world superficially connects to eyeballs but AI connects to real select communities—to their real points of interest. That’s a huge difference. 

One insight from years of social science research is relevant here. Tons of findings over years show that communities of human subjects express measurable sentiment related to topics and entities of interest. 

Twitter should both sell ads and curate content. Message accordingly. Trigger cookieless engagement as sentiment peaks on select topics. 

Web3 on Twitter 

Twitter could champion the truly verified distributed user sentiment project as part of wider web3 adoption—which gives ownership and monetization back to users for what they publish on Twitter and online.

  • Each tweet block will belong to a specific user and go up/down based on demand for their sentiment.
  • Distribute sentiment market community-owned and monetized content with fees going to the “distributed digital identity” organization.
  • Anyone could become a nano/micro creator of sentiment on Twitter.
  • Auto-matcher would pair sentiments with buyers, e.g., brands, political parties, governments, and organizations who want to learn from and engage with public sentiment.
  • Entire payment routing could be handled automatically across all parties.

Twitter could become the world leader in social media and to bring users together in communities as was its stated purpose. In so doing, Twitter will raise its own reputation, oversee the formation of social capital, and its investment will multiply many times over.

Elon, by leading these real-time public perceptions based on crowd emotional intelligence you have a gold mine, which is likely why you bought it in the first place.

About Theodore Roosevelt Malloch

Theodore Roosevelt Malloch, scholar-diplomat-strategist, is CEO of the thought leadership firm The Roosevelt Group. He is the author of 18 books, including The Plot to Destroy Trump and, with Felipe J. Cuello, Trump's World: GEO DEUS. He appears regularly in the media, as a keynote speaker, and on television around the world. 

Photo: Michael Gonzalez/Getty Images

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