Let That Sink In
Written by Brook Schaaf
The bird may have been freed, but the bird cannot fly for free — which is to say that it has significant operational costs, regardless of any layoffs that might happen. Acquirer Elon Musk may have had this in mind when he posted a message last Thursday explaining his purchase (“to help humanity”). He pledged it would not become a “free-for-all hellscape” and to make Twitter “the most respected advertising platform in the world.”
A much-liked comment in response was “to find a way to compensate/monetisation partner with [Twitter’s] top creators,” to which Musk replied, “Absolutely.” And just yesterday, he announced an $8/month fee for the coveted blue check mark and other features. “This will also give Twitter a revenue stream to reward content creators,” he said in a follow-up tweet.
Well, if two is better than one, might three not be better than two? I bounced the idea of Twitter adding affiliate links to commercially relevant destinations off of an industry veteran, who promptly swatted it down, citing the blow-up over Reddit’s integration of Sovrn links, which also brought to mind the prior kerfuffle over Pinterest’s integration of Skimlinks. Advertisers, users, and observers threw a fit.
Yet this need not be so dramatic. Internet users generally seem to comprehend and, within reason, accept (occasionally embrace) affiliate links. Wholesale conversion could rub many people the wrong way, but selected links could have competitor affiliate links placed nearby. Or Twitter might become its own sub-affiliate network, sharing revenue with creators (display or commission). Or cooperative creators might have improved visibility if they subscribe at a certain rate.
In a widely shared video, Musk is seen carrying a bathroom sink into Twitter HQ (in reference to “let that sink in”). Once inside, there seems to be nowhere to place it. Perhaps affiliate is just the pipe for him to attach to.