Every brand should have a Twitter account and a Facebook account. It’s 2021, and your potential customers expect to be able to find you on their favourite social media platforms. If you don’t have a presence there, you’re missing out on a vital way to engage with your current customers and a potential way to reach new ones. Social media is an expense in terms of both time and money if you’re paying for advertising, but a new Twitter initiative means you might have a way of making at least some of that money back.
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Whether it’s true or not, Twitter has been portrayed in the press as a struggling platform for several years now. It regularly faces accusations that it doesn’t do enough to control abuse on its platform. Yet, at the same time, it’s been criticised for banning high-profile users who the platform deems to be posting offensive content. Against that backdrop, new ideas have struggled to gain a foothold. Last year the company launched “Fleets” – an Instagram-style way of posting temporary stories that appear on your account for 24 hours and then disappear forever. While it might work on the image-orientated Instagram platform, it’s not so natural a fit on Twitter. The feature is barely used and might not last the year. Now, the people behind Twitter have taken another popular idea from elsewhere. This time, the idea has come from YouTube.
As you’ll probably already know if you spend a lot of time on YouTube and watch a lot of live streams, it’s possible to send money directly to a contact creator by using a “tipping” feature. Some creators make the bulk of their money this way rather than through YouTube’s advertising platforms. Users can choose the size of their ‘tip’ and usually get a small reward in turn for it, like exclusive content or their comments popping up on screen during the feed. The same method makes money for streamers on Twitch, which is where YouTube (probably) got the idea from in the first place. Now, that same feature is being introduced on Twitter under the name “Tip Jar.”
The new feature – which would potentially be a money-spinner if you regularly get strong audience engagement and your Tweets are entertaining – will initially only be available on mobile platforms. That means you’ll see it if you’re using iOS and Android, but not if you’re logging into Twitter from your laptop or desktop computer. The rollout of the Tip Jar is ongoing, but some users should be able to see it already. It’s represented by a dollar symbol next to the account owner’s username when you look at their feed. For Android users only, the feature is also available within the “Spaces” platform. The recently-launched Twitter equivalent to “Clubhouse” is struggling to gain traction at the moment, but the ability to monetise it might change that if enough prominent Tweeters are drawn to it.
Account owners can turn Tip Jar off if they don’t want to receive money from their followers, but we can see very few reasons why any user would want to do that! For those doing the tipping rather than receiving the tips, the feature is extremely user-friendly. It can automatically be connected to most payment apps, including PayPal, Venmo, Cash App, and even Patreon. Twitter doesn’t currently take a cut of any payment made – which is a fairly unique proposal in the world of social media – but reserves the right to change its stance on that in the future. This effectively cuts out the middleman between Twitter and Patreon. Twitter users have been trying to direct their followers to support them on Patreon for years. They no longer need to do that.
If there’s a drawback to the plan, it’s the fact that the “Tip Jar” feature can’t be directly accessed from a Tweet. To send a tip, a user would have to follow a Tweet through to the profile that created it and send the tip from there. That’s a potential disconnect between the user and the account owner, as it involved the user taking several steps to throw a few dollars the way of the person who’s just entertained, assisted, or informed them with their content. There’s also a security concern at the time of writing because PayPal reveals the address of the account owner on emailed receipts. That issue presumably wasn’t foreseen and is likely to be eliminated in the near future. It might even be gone by the time you read this.
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The point of creating Tweets that build engagement and invite interaction has always been to extend your marketing reach as far as businesses are concerned. Now, though, the focus is likely to shift from how to make an entertaining Tweet to how to make a Tweet that people are likely to pay you for. It makes Twitter more like an online slots website than ever before. The comparison has been made numerous times in the past because of the way that refreshing a Twitter feed is almost identical to the way that gamblers re-spin the reels of an online slots game. Now it’s even closer because Twitter users will be “throwing something out there” in the hope of getting a cash reward from it. There’s little difference between that and what goes on when someone logs into Rose Slots NZ, save for the fact that an unrewarded Tweet will only cost you time rather than money. That aside, we’ll undoubtedly start to see prominent Tweeters taking a gamble by abandoning their usual style in favour of one that might bring them greater financial rewards.
The big question that now needs to be answered is “what kind of Tweet persuades people to tip you.” We’ll inevitably publish a guide on this in the near future, but right now, it’s too early to tell. We need to watch what happens when users interact with the new system and see If they’re willing to use it at all before we can determine what works and what doesn’t. If there does appear to be a winning formula, we’ll make sure you’re the first to hear about it. In other words, watch this space!