Is Advertising on Twitter Still Worth It In 2023?

A lot has changed at Twitter over the past few months, and as a result, many major brands are reducing their ad spend or even leaving the platform entirely. Here are the pros and cons of keeping your company account.

Many brands are rethinking advertising on Twitter.

Twitter is just not what it used to be. That’s what some of the platform’s top spenders have decided, anyway. After Elon Musk’s takeover of the company—and the many changes that ensued—several major brands and organizations have cut back on ad spending or even stopped advertising on Twitter entirely. Several months later, the dust still seemingly hasn’t settled, with national media organization NPR announcing it will quit the platform just this week.

Are you considering following suit and exploring how to reach your audience on other platforms or even without social media? Here’s a rundown of what’s changed and the pros and cons of continuing to market on the site:

Here’s what changed

So what is it exactly that’s caused certain brands—General Motors, United Airlines, and Playbill, to name a few—to swear off advertising on Twitter? While each organization has its own reasons for pulling its ad dollars, these are a few of the recent changes that may have influenced these decisions.

Elon Musk is the new CEO: The frequently-tweeting Tesla owner bought the platform for $44 billion on October 27, 2022.

Mass layoffs: Just weeks after becoming CEO, Musk laid off nearly half the company, causing some remaining staff, including top security officers, to resign.

Twitter Blue: In the past, if Twitter users (mostly well-known brands, celebrities, and influencers) could prove they were who they said they were, they were given a blue check mark next to their username, the symbol of a “verified” account. This blue check mark helped users understand whether or not information was coming from a reliable source. For instance, the check mark would help me know if a person tweeting out content was, say, actually Beyoncé, as opposed to a man with a Beyoncé profile picture posing as the popstar to ask me to Venmo him $500. 

However, in November, Musk put into practice a new scheme to raise revenue: Twitter Blue, a subscription service in which everyday people could pay to have their accounts verified. As Musk began doling out blue checkmarks to just about anyone willing to pay $8 per month, chaos ensued. (More on this later.)

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The Pros

Many advertisers plan to stay, at least for the near future.

If you aren’t looking to give up on advertising on Twitter just yet, you’re not alone. In a recent HubSpot survey, when asked if they will move their advertising off of Twitter, 66% of marketing professionals said “no.”

On the other hand, the numbers are trending downwards. This February, CNN reported that approximately half of Twitter’s 1,000 top advertisers were no longer spending on the platform, as of January 2023—though it is worth noting that most of these companies did not leave the site entirely.

The platform is still ripe with engagement opportunities.

Though some users have left, the platform still has a wide reach, with 368 million daily active users.

Even some of the companies that are pulling paid ads understand the value a Twitter account has in terms of customer relationships. For instance, Wells Fargo put a pause on its paid advertisements with the company but kept the company Twitter account to tweet product updates and respond quickly to customers.

Advertising on Twitter allows companies to instantly engage with their customers, foes, and even celebrities and influencers in unique ways. Brands can respond directly to customer tweets, hop on trending hashtags, and reply to viral celebrity tweets.  

Twitter can be used for market research.

Twitter helps companies to not just connect, but to learn about their audience. Brands can simply type their names into the Twitter search bar to see what customers have been saying, and can even respond to and rectify complaints they may never have seen otherwise.

The Cons

Lax regulations

Musk is a big proponent of “free speech,” but many have criticized his lax regulation policies, saying that they’ve allowed hate speech, misinformation, and imposters to slip through the cracks. Many have also expressed dissatisfaction with Musk’s decision to reinstate several high-profile Twitter users who were previously banned for violating Twitter’s rules.

To add to the noise, Musk’s introduction of Twitter Blue imbued several paying accounts with a false sense of trustworthiness. In one instance, a verified account posing as Eli Lilly tweeted “We are excited to announce insulin is free now.” Because the account had a blue check mark, many believed the tweet had come from Eli Lilly itself, and the company’s stocks tanked.

Security concerns

When Musk laid off nearly half of Twitter’s workforce in November of 2022, Twitter’s chief information security officer Lea Kissner and chief privacy officer Damien Kieran announced their resignations. The mass layoffs and resignations, combined with previous security concerns—like the lack of end-to-end encryption for direct messages—caused cybersecurity professionals to warn that the platform is now more vulnerable to fraud, privacy violations, and organized crime. 

Human error 

How much can really go wrong with a 280-character limit? A lot, apparently.

Twitter advertising failures have been around much longer than its polarizing new CEO, but human error is always something to take into consideration when using the quick-moving platform. Some brands have gone viral for all the wrong reasons—employees firing off personal tweets from the company account, hashtags or images used in poor taste, and accidental competitor retweets, to name a few—proving that a scant character count can’t save you from bad copy.

A professional social network got inspiring copy

As the world’s largest and most influential professional network, LinkedIn helps millions of businesses connect with top talent. Throughout the year, LinkedIn’s growth marketing team kicks off new initiatives to expand its user base at various points along the acquisition funnel. While other agencies and copywriters had fumbled in representing the delicate nuances of the industry—requiring often-extensive redos and rewrites, MarketSmiths hit the ground running. Since 2018, we’ve steadily produced ebooks, landing pages, informative guides, articles, and other content that hits the mark, successfully boosting SEO, driving traffic and product interest, and meaningfully connecting with a global audience of recruiters, business leaders, and more. Our work enables the LinkedIn team to focus on broader strategic initiatives—and continue scaling its expansive community and reach.  

> Read the full case study here

So, is advertising on Twitter worth it?

Proceed with caution. While many marketers will continue to use the platform to connect with its millions of users, there is a downward trend in paid advertising spend, and rightful concerns about security and imposter accounts. Weigh the pros and cons for your organization, and be sure to leverage your other social media platforms to their full potential in the meantime.

At MarketSmiths, we’ve written social copy in all forms—from helping organizations craft standout LinkedIn profiles for their team members to devising attention-grabbing posts for the grid. Ready to stop social media scrollers in their tracks? Contact the MarketSmiths team.

Caitlin McQuade

Caitlin McQuade

Caitlin is a theatre-person-turned-copywriter with a deep love for good storytelling. In her stint as a freelancer, she wrote everything from corporate blog copy to a screenplay adaptation of Shakespeare’s As You Like It. When Caitlin isn’t writing, you can usually find her at a play or concert, checking out a new coffee shop, or exploring the city.

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