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Is it time to give up on X/Twitter?

Amid ongoing changes stemming from Elon Musk’s ambition to transform it into an ‘everything app’, the platform is currently in a state of fracture, at least from a branding perspective, while various reports suggest that hate speech and misinformation is on the rise on the platform, despite X’s claims to the contrary.

As a result, many users are indeed switching off, with rumors over the weekend that a record amount of X users are deactivating their accounts. And with Threads looming as a potential alternative, one which has already got the attention of many journalists and news breakers, maybe the change to X is your sign to exit the former Twitter app.

But can you actually do it? And for brands, should you risk turning your back on that audience?  

The Case for X

First off, let’s look at the case in favor of Elon Musk’s social media project, which he claims will one day be part of ‘the most valuable brand on Earth’.

Elon’s vision for X is an app built on a foundation of payments, that then stems into banking, remittance, and all sorts of other financial services. Musk is basing this on his experience in building the original in the late 90s, an online banking startup that he founded, which was eventually merged into what would become PayPal.

Musk’s has said that he always felt like PayPal could have been so much more, which is what X is aiming to achieve, with the concept being that once all of your banking is being conducted in-app, that will make it much easier to make payments, buy groceries, pay bills, basically conduct all of your transactions via the app.

Which could work. Musk’s inspiration here is China, and the way in which WeChat has become a transformative app for everyday interactions. Chinese users do virtually everything within the WeChat platform, which has also, in many respect, become a critical form of identity. Yet, while many Western social platforms have tried to emulate the same, Western users haven’t shown the same level of interest in having an all-encompassing payments/social/utility app.

So while conceptually it makes sense, and it would have been a revolutionary idea in the late 90s (before WeChat was even launched), there’s little evidence to suggest that Elon’s ‘everything app’ idea is going to work out moving forward. But it could, and if Elon can somehow find a way to convince people that X is indeed the app that they need, for everything, then the possibilities are huge, which could mean that having an X presence is crucial for ongoing connection.

A successful X would obviously attract more users, and thus, more advertisers, which could see it become an essential consideration, in many respects.

On balance, it seems unlikely that’ll work out, but as many will note, Elon’s been able to achieve big success in various industries and niches that many previously considered to be impossible.

Essentially, abandoning X/Twitter is betting against Elon, which many will be unwilling to do.

Yet at the same time, in doing so, that could afford you new opportunities.

The Case Against X

The case against Elon’s X plan is fairly obvious: it’s unlikely to work, and in the interim, X is becoming more of a confusing mess of mismatched branding and audience angst, amid its relaxed rules around hate speech, its push towards paid subscriptions, and Musk’s own propensity to distribute misinformation.

As noted, Western users haven’t shown any real interest in combining in-app shopping with social app functionality, while the crypto market crash has also shaken perceptions around online banking, and relying on digital platforms as a means of financial stability. X, of course, is not looking to integrate cryptocurrency within its payment tools as such (at least not yet), but many people lost a lot of money through online banking programs, which could make it a hard sell for Elon and X to stoke interest in its offerings.

The real value of a platform like X is more acutely relevant in Asian economies and developing markets, where the use cases are far more significant. Remittance, for example, is a much bigger deal in India, where people are regularly looking to transfer funds back to family, and a fee-free process for such would be a big win.   

Developing markets also don’t have evolved banking systems as we do in the Western world, in which case, alternatives, like even Bitcoin, could serve a much higher value role.

Given the safeguards and processes that are already in place for banking in Western regions, it’s hard to see there being a huge, driving push for more people to take up Elon’s banking offer, though reduced fees could be a way in, if he can convince enough people to trust in X as their banking platform of choice.

But then there are also the regulatory approvals that would be required, which X is unlikely to get. Meta, for example, has been trying for years to get full approval for Meta Pay, and its other payment services, and it’s been a constant struggle to gain approval in more markets. And again, the crypto crash has made regulators even more skeptical of such programs, while Musk’s repeated public criticisms of groups like the FTC, SEC, and various governments and world leaders are also unlikely to help ease the path forward for the app.

Add to this the concerns around the rise in hate speech in the app, as X looks to lean more on reach restrictions as opposed to content removals, and the emphasis on forcing people to pay to use it, by restricting certain features, and there’s clearly a significant, experiential shift.

Even when you look at new elements like X’s creator ad revenue share program, which will incentivize creators to share more incendiary content, in order to spark more comments (and therefore increase your potential for ads to be shown in replies), the content trends that will inspire are not exactly what most users desire.

So maybe, then, there is a case for a re-think. And with more journalists and influencers finding a new home on Threads, there is evidence that a marked usage shift is coming, even as Twitter claims a new all-time high in usage, and Meta admits that Threads usage has declined significantly from its initial hyped launch.      

It’s a time of change for the social media landscape, and by re-focusing on other platforms, maybe, that will deliver better results, both for your personal usage and your brand promotion efforts.

Again, it’s too early to write the X concept off completely. But with the holiday push coming, maybe now is the time to experiment with other platforms, in case the X experiment doesn’t take off, and you need to find new alternatives.

I suspect that’s what’s going to happen, that more brands are going to try out other social promotion options, like Reddit and Pinterest, along with TikTok and Instagram, as they seek the best avenues for their holiday campaigns. Twitter/X is no longer the no-brainer that it once was, and for the amount of posting effort, maybe more of that time would be better spent on other initiatives to maximize attention and resonance.

And Threads, too, could be an interesting organic option to try, to see what results you get.

It feels like both X and Threads have their own relevance at this stage, which adds another platform into the mix, but at some stage, you’ll figure out which platforms work best for you, and that will ultimately define your attention.

But the fact that this is even a debate seems like a concern for X, as it works to get its business back on track.  

Musk and Yaccarino have a big job to sell people on X, but maybe, it will indeed become the biggest social platform in the world, sometime in future.