Twitter has always been the subject of many controversies over the years. Still, the amount of debate in 2023 is simply legendary: the newly appointed CEO, Elon Musk, has introduced — and implemented — a variety of innovations to allegedly improve user experience and adhere to the principles of free speech. Let’s take a look at his achievements and analyze the benefits affiliates can derive from the social network.
On October 27, 2022, Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion, describing the platform as “the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated”. Half a year later, we can finally acknowledge the changes and parse the results of this historic acquisition, but before we scrutinize the details, we should see what looks different on Twitter and what alterations underlie the tweaks.
Twitter feed, the stream of posts people see in the app, was the first to undergo a notable change. The timeline previously appeared as a single flow of tweets, showing posts from only the accounts a user followed.
Now, however, the newsfeed is cleaved into two sections, so when you open Twitter, you stumble upon an algorithmically curated “For You” category and a “Following” tab. Obviously, the “For You” newsfeed incorporates the alterations made to Twitter’s recommendation algorithm, suggesting new topics, interests, and personalities, often irrelevant to a particular user.
Do you remember the color-coded check marks labeling trustworthy sources and confirming the identities of organizations, governments, notable individuals, and official accounts? Forget that.
Elon Musk has begun charging users an $8 monthly fee in exchange for such a check mark, so practically anyone willing to pay the money can digitally cosplay as celebrities and politicians in the app.
Elon Musk has repeatedly voiced his intention to make Twitter more free and more open by reinstating profiles of suspended users. Well, it wasn’t much of an announcement: the CEO created a poll among users, which had already proved to be Musk's go-to circuit-breaker for important, big decisions.
Vox Populi, vox Dei, as the saying goes: amnesty was granted, and Twitter restored approximately 60,000 accounts, belonging to the people who had broken the rules in the past.
All about Metrics
A vigorous entrepreneur and a meticulous person, Elon Musk couldn’t ignore metrics: they were destined to undergo a serious revision, too. For most of Twitter’s history, users could only like, retweet, or reply to a post until 2015, when the Quote function was added. If you were anxious to see how many people liked, retweeted, or quoted your tweet, you could find the numbers at the end of the tweet.
Elon Musk was clearly not satisfied with this simplistic approach and added even more metrics to plow through. First, he has included a view counts that show the total number of times a tweet has been viewed. A bit later, the platform has added a tally for the number of times a post is bookmarked and saved. In short, now you have the whole gallery of numbers appended to your tweets: replies, likes, quotes, retweets, bookmarks, and views.
“Twitter has leaned in to the ‘crazy uncle’ contingent,” opined Chris Messina, the hashtag inventor and a renowned speaker by proxy, claiming that recommended tweets he sees on the newsfeed do not align with his preferences and interests. “In terms of the product, overall I think the quality has really regressed.”
He is not wrong: either there’s the quality to blame or the bombardment of innovations, Twitter’s ad business has taken a hit. According to recent reports, Insider Intelligence in particular, the company’s core revenue stream has been severely impacted: Twitter’s global ad revenue has downgraded by 37%, to $2.98 billion, representing a 28% decline from its 2022 ad revenue of $4.14 billion — that’s what you get if you scare off big brands.
Source: Insider Intelligence
“The biggest problem with Twitter’s ad business is that advertisers don’t trust Musk,” said Jasmine Enberg, principal analyst at Insider Intelligence. “None of Twitter’s efforts to bring back major advertisers, including ad incentives and brand safety partnerships, will work with Musk at the helm. Twitter needs to unravel Musk’s personal brand from the company’s corporate image to regain advertiser trust and bring back ad dollars.”
This, however, is not the only concerning problem: Twitter is inexorably losing its audience, for the first time since 2008. Its worldwide user base is anticipated to decline by 3.9%, with another 5.1% next year, a loss of 32.7 million users in just two years.
Twitter’s primary user demographic, individuals aged 18 to 44 years, is considered relatively stable, but the platform is anticipated to go through a significant decline in users aged 45 and above as well as those aged 17 and under: the majority of these users have recently joined the platform to follow the booming purchase saga. Another aspect that may play a part in the decision to either continue using Twitter or abandon it is political leanings.
Source: Insider Intelligence
Bot scammers and opinion manipulators, in Musk’s own parlance, were another great concern that should be taken care of.
Driven by the altruistic impulse to save people from spam, scam, and bogus, Elon Musk immediately launched his campaign against all types of bots. In his interview with the BBC, Twitter CEO claimed that the bots that caused trolling are getting eradicated, so the amount of spam is rapidly decreasing. However, according to the BBC, the situation is exactly the opposite: there are hundreds of Russian and Chinese state propaganda accounts ganging up and forming so-called “troll farms” created to feed misinformation.
Troll farms are not a new or exclusive phenomenon for Twitter: previously, the HQ had a crew that used to deal with them directly. However, Musk and his mass firings of Twitter staff did the deed: according to one former employee, “The whole human layer has been wiped out. All Twitter has left are automated detection systems.” Since Elon Musk took the reins at Twitter in October 2022, its workforce reportedly hovers at approximately 1,300 employees. Practically, troll farms now flourish because the 80% cut of the HQ staff leaves much to be desired: there are not enough specialists to address this challenge.
Affiliates, to Arms!
By Chris Messina’s account, Twitter’s quality regression is obvious, but in terms of traffic, there’s not much to be upset about: this platform never drove enough traffic to lament the losses, even though Elon Musk falsely claimed in a now-deleted tweet that “Twitter drives a massive number of clicks to other websites/apps. Biggest click driver on the Internet by far”.
Alas, Twitter is not that successful in terms of clicks. According to the data presented by NiemanLab, web publishing tech provider Automattic analyzed publishers and found that traffic from Twitter in the fourth quarter fell, on average, by 13%, and for the whole of 2022, referral traffic from Twitter dropped by 20% year over year.
Despite all that, Twitter is still a perfect opportunity for affiliate marketing as a) even small accounts can go viral, and b) 80% of content on Twitter is created by just 10% of its users, which means that there are a lot of people on the platform to consume your content. Unfortunately, the platform may be extremely unpredictable, so affiliate marketing requires strategy and a very specific game plan.
Treat your bio as a landing page. You can’t judge a book by its cover, but people mostly decide whether they should follow you or not after they examine your Twitter bio. With that said, your profile completion is your first step in an affiliate marketer's content creation journey. Make sure it looks credible:
use social proof to establish yourself as an expert by adding a clean and professional profile picture and a stylish cover photo that graphically describes who you are and what you do;
attach the pinned tweet;
mention the key terms relevant to target followers (e.g., tech, blogger, finance, crypto, etc.);
include clear and concise CTAs to direct your audience to the right place (links in the bio, links in the pinned tweet, or the follow button.)
Show your expertise by linking to your website and illustrating what content you share on the platform. These details might seem superfluous and abundant, but they build trust and loyalty on Twitter.
The pinned tweet function introduced a new angle for affiliate marketing: this permanent feature is practically the first thing a potential follower sees on your account, so use it to your advantage. Display your offer at all times and update it in accordance with appearing trends. Get the maximum results with these tips:
Use visual elements;
Include clear and comprehensible CTAs;
Use simple language;
Mention one single link.
Everyone dreams of overnight success, and some immediately take action to achieve it, for example, by buying fake followers on Twitter to make their profile look trustworthy and credible.
Still, affiliate marketing is all about qualified traffic, so fake followers won’t help: they do not bring any real engagement, often even lowering the odds of tilting the algorithms in your favor. Sometimes the ‘bot nest’ can even sully your reputation among the audience: people don’t need endless charts or analyzing platforms to conclude that an ‘influencer’ has bought the followers. Imagine: if a user has 100k followers, the number of likes they get cannot be lower than 1000. It’s not about mathematics; it’s about logic.
Another logical conclusion is that any affiliate marketer should understand their audience, for it’s the key to success. If you already have an account with a certain number of followers, choose the products carefully to align with the needs of your audience. If you build your Twitter profile from scratch, identify your target audience for the products you are about to promote.
Extract your best ideas from your longer posts to attract attention on Twitter, making people want to retweet your conclusions and share them with others. You are most welcome to use visual content: infographics and videos stand out perfectly amongst a stream of text, and sometimes you can include quotes, statistics, insights, or tips as standalone pieces to pique curiosity. If you have a blog or a channel, you can add excerpts and short clips from there to steal the limelight.
Hanging by a Thread
280 characters are not enough to tell a story, but threads (several tweets tied together) are primed for that exact purpose. Threads can warm up your audience before giving them a link: using this feature, you can offer more than a mediocre one-liner. Just imagine what you can do with round-ups, comparisons, and a cliffhanger at the end.
Twitter is a peculiar social media platform that requires engagement on both sides: consistent, regular tweeting is an essential, integral part of any Twitter strategy. Affiliates post a lot of material daily and constantly remain active to be aware of the latest trends and emerging topics. If you want to stand out, you should stay in the know; you need to increase your visibility by communicating with other people in the niche, building a good relationship with other representatives of your vertical, and working on potential collaborations to expand your influence further.
Under Elon Musk, Twitter has changed a lot, offering a variety of new functions and metrics that don’t always come in handy. Such updates seriously affected many businesses, scaring off large brands and afflicting advertising campaigns. However, Twitter still remains a solid traffic source, though not a big one: if you are ready to refine your approach and pay attention to details, you will prosper just as much, regardless of the recent innovations.