Should brands still be on X (formerly Twitter)?

In the dynamic world of digital marketing, brands are constantly evaluating which platforms align with their values and offer the best return on investment. One platform that has been a staple for over a decade is Twitter. However, with its recent rebranding to “X” under Elon Musk’s leadership and subsequent controversies, the question arises: Should brands still invest in this platform?

The transformation of Twitter to X

Twitter, once known for its 140-character limit and real-time updates, underwent a significant transformation when Elon Musk acquired it. Musk’s vision for Twitter was not just to maintain it as a microblogging platform but to evolve it into an “everything app.” This vision was realised when he rebranded Twitter to “X” in July 2023.

An exodus of advertisers

Recent data has shown a concerning trend for X. More than half of Twitter’s top 1,000 advertisers in September were no longer spending on the platform by January. Major brands such as Coca-Cola, Unilever, Jeep, Wells Fargo, and Merck had pulled their ad pounds. This resulted in a revenue drop of over 60% from October through January, from around $127 million to just over $48 million.

The reasons for this exodus are multifaceted. After Musk’s takeover, advertisers began to express concerns about the safety and stability of the platform, especially given Musk’s plans to cut staff and relax content moderation policies. This relaxation led to the rollback of bans on users who had previously violated Twitter’s rules, including controversial figures like former President Donald Trump. Musk also dissolved a third-party content oversight group and halted the enforcement of its Covid-19 misinformation policy.

The push for brand safety

In response to the backlash, X has made attempts to regain advertiser trust. The platform reportedly offered a Super Bowl “fire sale” deal for advertisers and partnered with a third-party “brand safety” firm to ensure ads don’t appear alongside inappropriate or unsafe content. However, concerns persist, especially with reports of ads appearing next to toxic content from previously banned accounts.

It’s a waiting game

X, formerly Twitter, is at a crossroads. While its vision is ambitious, the platform’s direction under Musk’s leadership has raised significant concerns among advertisers. Given the current uncertainties and concerns about platform safety, we recommend brands consider pausing their focus on X for the time being. With more developments anticipated for the ‘everything app’, there’s potential for the platform to regain trust in the future. It might be worth waiting on the sidelines to see if platform safety and brand trustworthiness improve before diving back in.

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