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A Look At Elon Musk’s X, Content Creators

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Elon Musk
Elon Musk.

In light of the diminishing fortunes from advertising and the potential negative impact on the struggling Twitter, which he rebranded ‘X’, Elon Musk took extraordinary measures in June. He announced incentives for content creators, allocating a sum of $5 million for this purpose. He stated that X would begin compensating verified content creators for advertisements within their replies.

“In a few weeks, X/Twitter will start paying creators for ads served in their replies. The first payment block totals $5M,” the billionaire tweeted. “Note that the creator must be verified and only ads served to verified users will count,” he added. The company had transitioned to a subscription-based verification system and reinstated the blue checkmark for users with over a million followers. This move aimed to boost subscriptions and retain advertisers following the appointment of the new chief executive officer, Linda Yaccarino. “It happened—first day in the books,” she tweeted.

Since Musk acquired Twitter, the company has struggled to retain advertisers, who have expressed concerns about the placement of their ads after the company laid off thousands of employees. However, Musk has implicit faith in Yaccarino, an advertising guru, to mend the company’s relationship with brands after the business was lost due to his takeover and the revamping of the site’s content rules.

Musk views the new initiative to share a portion of his advertising profits with content creators, particularly in technologically advanced countries like Nigeria and India, as an experiment. He intends to expand this initiative to other parts of the world if it proves successful in boosting X’s revenue. Payment distribution commenced in the United States of America (USA) in July, despite Musk’s reservations that society is scrutinising him and his businesses due to alleged rights and labour law violations.

In early July, Musk also disclosed a 50 per cent decline in advertising revenues and a debt overhang of $13 billion, which experts predict will continue to hinder growth despite the seemingly robust initiatives. The company’s projected revenue boost in June did not materialise, exacerbating the challenges for Musk and his management. Traffic had declined in the face of competition from Mark Zuckerberg’s Threads debut. Musk’s managerial approach is also believed to impede growth, as advertisers began withdrawing their ads when he announced certain changes that were poorly received.

Acquiring Twitter for $44 billion in October 2022 was a substantial risk for Musk, who remains determined to weather the storms despite declining revenue and formidable competition. He had previously announced a feature that would benefit content creators on the social media platform. In an earlier tweet, he stated that Twitter would provide subscribers’ email addresses to content creators. This change would allow content creators to interact more easily with their subscribers outside of Twitter. Musk’s tweet received widespread appreciation from users and followers, many of whom inquired about other planned platform changes.

“This platform will provide email addresses of subscribers (who opt-in) to content creators, so that creators are able to leave this platform easily & take their subscribers with them if they want,” Musk explained. Within hours, the tweet garnered over six million views and more than 6,700 retweets. It ignited enthusiasm on the platform, as numerous content creators praised the move. “Impressive! Appreciate that @elonmusk & X team,” responded a user. Another commented, “I’ve literally left Facebook behind as Twitter is not only more engaging, but it’s just better in every way. Good work mate.”

Certain users inquired about the possibility of doing the reverse, given that they have subscribers on other platforms. Musk’s tweet coincided with Yaccarino assuming the role of the new Twitter CEO. As the former advertising chief at NBC Universal, Yaccarino took the helm at Twitter during a period when the company was striving to reverse a decline in ad revenue. Yaccarino played a pivotal role in modernising the advertising industry at NBC Universal, which is owned by Comcast Corp.

In early August, Nigerian content creators on Twitter began receiving payments for ads displayed on their feeds. They proudly showcased the various sums received as payments from X on the social media platform. The company had stipulated that creators need to be verified and possess around 500 followers, along with five million impressions, to qualify. X extended the payment program globally, encompassing global users at the end of July. Verified users in Nigeria and worldwide, who met the criteria and impressions threshold, received compensation. Many paid creators took to the platform to display their receipts and express gratitude to Twitter/X owner Musk for this initiative. According to the creators, Musk had given them a reason to remain on the platform and continue producing engaging content. Eligibility for payment requires users to be verified or subscribed to Twitter Blue. In addition to accumulating at least five million impressions on their posts every three months, content creators had to pass a human review for Creator Monetization Standards. Eligible users could join and set up payments from within the monetisation section of the app, accessible from the sidebar on iOS, Android and the web.

Reports indicated that the company retained the right to modify or cancel the programme at its discretion, including for business or legal reasons. In May, when Musk imposed a limit on the daily number of tweets users could read on the microblogging site, thousands of users encountered difficulties accessing the platform. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO stated that verified accounts were limited to reading 6,000 posts per day, a measure aimed at mitigating “extreme levels” of data scraping and system manipulation.

Musk’s tweets outlined the temporary limits: “Verified accounts are limited to reading 6,000 posts/day. Unverified accounts to 600 posts/day. New unverified accounts to 300/day.” Frustrated users trying to access or post content encountered messages such as “Rate limit exceeded” or “Cannot retrieve tweets.” Previous instances of outages coincided with reports of data centre closures and significant layoffs at Twitter. Musk, who acquired the social media platform in 2022 for $44 billion, asserted that these actions were necessary for the company’s financial well-being.

Curiously, over the weekend, Musk playfully commented on the microblogging site’s temporary daily reading limits after users expressed displeasure with the new restrictions. “Oh, the irony of hitting view limits due to complaining about view limits,” the billionaire tweeted. He had previously explained that Twitter had imposed these limits to address “extreme levels” of data scraping and system manipulation. Initially set at 6,000 posts per day for verified users, the limit was later increased to 8,000 and then 10,000 posts.

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