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Elon Musk has a solution to make Twitter money without ads – but are marketers going to like it?

Twitter’s new CEO, Elon Musk, has a politician’s talent for talking a lot without really saying anything, and never is that more obvious than when he is talking about his intentions for Twitter. He is aiming for free speech, sure, we’ve got that loud and clear, but to have a free speech platform you first have to have a profitable platform – and there, Elon Musk seems to have thrown a wrench in the works. His initial idea is to get rid of ads.

What does that mean?

It’s likely, (though not confirmed, this is Elon Musk after all), that he doesn’t mean a blanket ban on all marketing. It’s likely what he is referring to is that Twitter will not take any money from advertisements, which means brands and affiliate marketers will still be able to use Twitter as a marketing platform, but what other options is Elon Musk touting?

What are his alternatives?

Well, there is a lot. The obvious alternative is subscriptions. There are already subscription options on Twitter, called Twitter Blue, which offers a verification tick for a subscription, but it is optional. If Musk takes it to a point where it is technically still optional but so limiting it’s not worth staying on the free platform (a la, Spotify), it’s easy to see a lot of people leaving. Because Twitter isn’t Spotify. It has plenty of competition that is offering the same service for free.

Another idea of Elon Musk is to charge for tweet embeds. Every time you open an article talking about the latest controversy, you’re bound to get a list of reactions from either famous faces or unknown users just making a good point. Elon Musk wants to start charging for that privilege.

What will that mean for marketers?

Before we even get into what embedded tweets mean for marketing, the example of journal publications is also important. Marketing and journalism in their broadest sense are heavenly intertwined, which means charging for embedded tweets is likely to affect marketing.

Directly, brands looking to use Tweets as an example of good reviews, for example, will affect marketers. And if Musk is to continue with his idea of Twitter subscribers, it might become the case that there are a lot fewer people to market to on Twitter.