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Twitter Updates: Challenges, platform changes and ‘features’ in 2023 (so far)

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So far in 2023, Twitter updates include Elon Musk’s recent demands to boost his tweets, the possibility of TweetDeck becoming a paid feature, Musk’s plan to turn Twitter into a payments platform, and The platform contemplating a change to charge $1k for verification badges changing.

Twitter could be opening up its algorithm next week

Elon Musk’s latest tweet hints that Twitter might open-source its algorithm next week. We’ll see if he’s playing us again…

Musk has long advocated for the idea, even before taking charge of the platform and again when he announced his intention to acquire Twitter. When urged to open source Twitter, Musk replied with a warning to brace for disappointment at first, but promising rapid improvement.

It’s one of the first commitments with a deadline for the open sourcing of Twitter’s algorithm, and we for one will be eagerly watching to see if it happens.


Yes, Elon Musk created a special system for showing you all his tweets first

One guaranteed way to grow your Twitter engagement: Buy Twitter and demand its engineers boost your posts. That’s what Elon Musk did this Monday after his tweet about the Super Bowl was less popular than President Biden’s.

After demanding his tweets be artificially boosted, he said he’s hoping to find someone else to run the company by the end of the year.

Here’s how it went down:

  • James Musk—Twitter employee and Elon’s cousin—sent the equivalent of a “u up?” message on the company Slack at 2:36am, asking for help from the company’s engineers with the “high urgency” problem.
  • By Monday afternoon, 80 employees had tweaked Twitter’s algorithm to boost Musk’s tweets by 1,000x—bottle-feeding them to users.

Elon’s Twitter tantrum may have been partially justified: The social media company’s engineers estimated his tweets were showing up in feeds less often than they should have. But is 1,000x an overcorrection??


Twitter is having a meltdown (I mean… same)

A Twitter outage on Wednesday served users a message saying they’d reached the “daily limit” when they tried to post or retweet.

DMs were also impacted, with users reportedly unable to access their inboxes or send messages:

Quick PSA: Daily limits on tweets currently is 2,400 per day and 500 direct messages a day.

Twitter’s breakdown came about after deploying a new 4,000 character limit earlier in the day (now available for Twitter Blue users, btw). The errors have since been remedied – but it was a scramble for many Twitter creators nonetheless. We expect this isn’t the end of outages.


Elon fires an engineer over… tweet reach

Elon Musk has been voicing concerned over his Twitter audience – recently taking his account private for a day to test its reach.

What could be the problem? One engineer suggested that public interest in Musk’s antics had declined, leading to a decrease in his reach. The team showed Musk data charts indicating that his popularity had dropped significantly…maybe people really are tired of his antics?

Elon didn’t like that answer and reportedly fired the engineer on the spot. Yikes.


TweetDeck could become a paid feature

If you’re using TweetDeck and you’re not yet a Twitter Blue subscriber, this could shake things up.

Spotted in Twitter’s code by Twitter Takeover News, the platform is preparing to launch TweetDeck as a Twitter Blue add-on. While the move will certainly help strengthen Twitter Blue’s offering, it leaves those of us who use TweetDeck as a free tool to manage feeds left out in the cold.

Be prepared to switch over to $7/month ($11 on iOS) if TweetDeck is one of those tools you can’t live without.


Turning Twitter into a payments platform

In the latest episode of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks, Elon Musk’s Twitter is reportedly working on becoming a payments platform.

Musk wants Twitter’s users to be able to buy stuff on Twitter, but also to send money to each other. Despite Musk’s self-professed love of cryptocurrency, the system will primarily be based on fiat payments.

The payments project is part of Musk’s effort to increase Twitter’s revenue significantly. Twitter will be up against some heavyweight platforms like Apple Pay and Paypal, though. I’m also interested to see how people will respond to the brand shift of Twitter, no longer just being a short-form communication platform.

Coins is the next big thing as well. “Coins allow you to support creators who Tweet great content. Unusued coins are kept in your balance,” says a notice on the Coins purchasing screen. The list of Twitter Awards you can send to other users, ranges from “1 Mind Blown” equalling one coin, to “1 Gold! equalling 5,000 coins. You’ll be able to purchase coins through Stripe.


How much should a ‘brand’ pay for a gold checkmark on Twitter?

How much is a verification tick on Twitter worth for your business? 

Of course, there is some value to having an official verified recognition for your brand. But, how much are you willing to pay? $50 a month? What about $100? Maybe a bit much for a little, golden checkmark?

Well, Twitter seems to think that’s not enough. It seems they’re actually considering charging $1,000 USD for the gold check.

The new package would also enable brands to effectively verify their own staff with its official brand logo marker, but that will cost you an extra $50 per employee added.

That… seems like a lot to pay, for not much in return…

Time will only tell if Twitter believes brands will pay this much.


Twitter’s status quo

Twitter’s biggest challenge is on the revenue front, with Elon estimating that the app was losing around $4 million per day when he took the helm.

Elon’s main additional revenue push thus far has been subscriptions via Twitter Blue, which he’s hoping will eventually generate around half of the app’s total intake.

As of right now, there are between 275k and 325k Twitter Blue subscribers. Taking the top-end of that estimate, we’ll assume that Twitter is generating around $2.6 million per month from Twitter Blue subscriptions as of right now (325,000x$8).

That equates to $7.8 million per quarter – which is a lot, but it’s still not close to where Twitter needs it to be a relevant revenue driver.

To clarify, in Q4 2021, Twitter generated $1.57 billion in revenue. Half of that would be $785 million – or around 100x what Twitter Blue is currently bringing in.

Twitter’s still working out the details of its next steps, and while it continues to roll out smaller tweaks like updates to Bookmarks and view counts, the real push is revenue drivers, and bringing in more money at the app.

On this front, Twitter’s working on several elements:

  • A higher-cost Twitter Blue tier with no ads
  • It’s coming ‘Verification for Organizations’ subscription offering, which will see businesses pay a monthly fee to get official recognition in the app
  • Longer video uploads, with a view to video monetization
  • Twitter Coins, its own in-app payment and tipping process

Each of these has the potential to bring in incremental value, but a lot will depend on how many people and businesses are willing to put more reliance on Twitter.


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