Teams inside Twitter are researching ways for the company to offer paid subscriptions, which could include charging money for access to TweetDeck. TweetDeck is a popular alternative to the main Twitter website and mobile app that allows users to more efficiently manage multiple accounts and organize Twitter into a series of easier-to-read vertical feeds.
Alongside charging for TweetDeck, the teams are said to be exploring other ideas, including charging for new features like an “undo send” button or more profile customization options. Another idea involves introducing “tipping” to Twitter, where users could pay accounts for exclusive content.
Twitter is thought to be exploring these plans as a way to reduce its reliance on advertising, which currently provides the majority of its revenue. Bloomberg notes that competing ad businesses from Facebook and Snapchat continue to grow faster than Twitter’s, and the company is under pressure to diversify, thanks to the pandemic as well as high-profile activist investors. Introducing a series of premium pay models to Twitter would be a bold move given most social media companies prioritize offering their services for free to maximize growth.
Twitter’s head of revenue products, Bruce Falck, confirmed the company’s plans to improve its revenue mix “may include” subscriptions, but he stressed that its plans are in the “very early exploration” stage. “We do not expect any meaningful revenue attributable to these opportunities in 2021,” he added.
Twitter has been exploring some of these ideas for years. Back in 2017, the company considered charging for premium TweetDeck features before later abandoning the plans, and last year a customer survey revealed an interest in charging for an “undo send” feature. Bloomberg notes that subscriptions have been mentioned on the company’s last two earnings calls, and just this past December, Twitter CFO Ned Segal said the company was exploring charging for features like “higher-quality video” and “analytics.”
Twitter is due to report its latest earnings tomorrow, so there’s a chance we might know more about its plans sooner rather than later.