Akshit Pushkarna
Social Media

#RIPTwitter: Will Twitter soon be dead to brands?

Following two weeks filled with failed experiments, mass resignations, and notable brands announcing a halt on Twitter ad spend, the hashtag "RIPTwitter" trended on the platform recently.

Over two weeks have passed since the ownership of the popular social media platform exchanged hands and unabridged chaos continues to surround it. With tech entrepreneur Elon Musk now at the helm of Twitter, the social media platform saw significant changes in a short time.

The entire timeline of events has been well documented in the media. With the announcement of an $8 subscription plan, thousands of layoffs, an exodus of C-suite executives, and Musk saying that bankruptcy may very well become a possibility for Twitter, people have grown skeptical of the sustenance of the beloved bluebird. RIP Twitter became a trending hashtag on the platform on Friday, November 18.

Brands and media buyers worldwide also realise this skepticism. In the past week, global ad agencies GroupM and Omnicomm suggested that their clients, including large brands like Adidas, L'Oreal, McDonald's, Apple, etc., pause their ad campaigns on Twitter. While Omnicom said that the chaos has risen "Continued brand safety concerns", GroupM says that the platform is "High Risk" for media buying.

Also Read: GroupM advises clients against advertising on Twitter

The list of global brands that put pull the plug on their Twitter ads is steadily increasing. Brands like Audi, General Motors, Mondelez International, and Pfizer, among others, have made it public that ad spends on the platform will be on pause.

However, the case is different when it comes to the Indian market.

"Currently, we are not seeing too much budget shift from Indian brands and agencies on Twitter advertising," Sanjay Mehta, Joint CEO, Mirum India, explains. However, he adds, there might be some pauses announced by Indian brands soon as initial questions about investing in Twitter ads are already being discussed. "The reasons for this are twofold. One is the prevailing uncertainty around the platform due to various updates and what is currently happening with the company. The second and more important is the brand safety with regards to their advertising," Mehta shares.

Ahmed Aftab Naqvi, Global CEO & Co-founder of GOZOOP Group, an independent marketing company with clients like Dell, Asian Paints, Taj Hotel, etc., also points towards the same.

"The dramatic reduction of content moderation on the site and the repercussions it may have to brand safety is concerning to marketers. Knowing all this turmoil can be bad for business, brands might take a call to be on hiatus or selective till we gain further clarity," he says.

There is another interesting observation as to why the ripples from the happenings in San Francisco in terms of ad spends are yet to reach the Indian market because of its size in the country. Twitter has about 23.6 million users (as of January 2022), according to Statista in the country. Indian users constitute about 5 percent of its total global users. In comparison, the social media platform Instagram has a user base of 253 million, Snapchat 106 million, and Facebook has a total of 329 million users in India.

"The dramatic reduction of content moderation on the site and the repercussions it may have to brand safety is concerning to marketers. Knowing all this turmoil can be bad for business, brands might take a call to be on hiatus or selective till we gain further clarity."
Ahmed Aftab Naqvi, Global CEO & Co-founder of GOZOOP Group
Ahmed Aftab Naqvi, Global CEO & Co-founder of GOZOOP Group

"Let’s start with the fact that for many brands, their Twitter budget is probably very small compared to Meta and Google. So this decision may not be that difficult to take," Mayur Milan, Director, Brand Communication and Digital, Ideosphere Consulting, an 11 year old evidence based communication consultancy, shares.

"Let’s start with the fact that for many brands, their Twitter budget is probably very small compared to Meta and Google. So this decision may not be that difficult to take."
Mayur Milan, Director-Brand Communication and Digital, Ideosphere Consulting
Mayur Milan, Director-Brand Communication and Digital, Ideosphere Consulting

In case the situation pans out negatively, companies will divert their funds from Twitter to other platforms. "If and when the brands move their advertising and marketing spends away from Twitter, the budgets will most probably be realigned to other effective social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. But it might still create a need gap in the market since they don't have a similar format or audience base that is offered by Twitter," Siddharth Devnani, Co-Founder & Director, SoCheers, a marketing agency specialising in social media promotion, said.

This "Twitter void" that Devnani mentions would be beneficial for already established social media platforms as well as new homegrown platforms. Milan believes that Koo, an Indian social media app with a similar interface to Twitter, can be the biggest beneficiary of them all.

Also Read: Why is everyone going 'Koo Koo'?

"Twitter has always been a very difficult platform to unlock when it comes to the Return On Advertising Spend challenge. There is a very different audience being tapped into as compared to new-age video platforms. The void will take some time to be filled up," he adds.

Also Read: Twitter sees mass exodus after Musk calls for extremely hardcore culture to build the next version of the bird

As reports of mass resignations and more layoffs continue to roll in, the problems for Twitter only seem to be escalating. Even in this, it is important to keep in mind that Musk has always made his intentions to improve the platform in terms of fake news circulation and improve the dialogue on the platform very clear.

Musk has also made his intentions to better promote freedom of speech on the app ever since the discussion of him acquiring the platform began. Independent brand consultant Sai Ganesh believes that the platform could very well become better than before.

"However, the Football World Cup would be a great example to see whether the platform holds out because the biggest concern has been with engineering staff leaving. Whether the system could handle such a bandwidth would be evident from its perfomance in the world cup," Ganesh says.

Mehta advises that brands who are doing their annual planning for next year, and deciding on the media allocations, should wait for a stable environment to prevail at Twitter. "Understand the various changes that are going on and the changes that are coming up in the advertising formats and also about the assurance with regards to brand safety, etc, and only once that is clear, to strategically put their bets for their campaigns on Twitter."

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