Ahead of its analyst day presentation, Twitter outlined an ambitious plan to double annual revenue by 2023. Most of that will continue to come from advertising — but the social network also is looking to generate a growing chunk of subscription revenue.
One of the forthcoming subscription products: “Super Follows,” a program that will let individual users and publishers earn money from followers who pay them to get exclusive content, e-commerce deals or other perks. The company’s presentation showed an example of a Super Follow account charging $4.99 per month. It’s conceptually similar to how Patreon works, while other platforms like YouTube and Facebook have added subscription options to let creators give perks to paying fans.
“Exploring audience-funding opportunities like Super Follows will allow creators and publishers to be directly supported by their audience and will incentivize them to continue creating content that their audience loves,” a Twitter rep said.
Twitter expects to bring Super Follows to market sometime in 2021, product lead Kayvon Beykpour told analysts, without being more specific.
It’s a new “subscriber layer” to Twitter, and the price point for Super Follows will be “highly customizable based on the creator,” Beykpour said. “They can directly monetize from the audience they’ve already built on Twitter.”
The preview of Super Follows comes on the heels of another bid by Twitter to help power-users make money with its acquisition of Revue, a startup that lets writers self-publish subscription newsletters. Twitter plans to integrate Revue with the core social platform; for example, by letting people sign up for newsletters from Twitter accounts they follow or letting writers host real-time conversations with subscribers.
Also at the investor day, Twitter announced an upcoming feature called Communities, which will let users create and join groups around specific interests (similar to Facebook Groups). On the safety and security front, Twitter showed a new “Safety Mode” feature that will let users automatically block or mute other accounts that violate the company’s policies.
CEO Jack Dorsey, in his introductory remarks at the Twitter analyst day, said the company set a goal of boosting “development velocity” to introduce new products more quickly. Twitter hopes to double development velocity by the end of 2023, by which it means doubling the number of features shipped per employee that “directly drive” either monetizable daily active users or revenue, according to the company.
In the past, “we agree we haven’t been innovative,” Dorsey said, admitting that Twitter has trailed its competitors. A few years ago, he noted, it might have taken Twitter 6-12 months to get single product or feature launched. The new goal is to get that down to a few weeks. Dorsey said Twitter’s biggest single area of product investment will be in “interests,” by making conversations more discoverable.
On the back of such product refinements, Twitter’s target is to grow monetizable daily active users (mDAU) by 20% or more annually in the next three years, to hit at least 315 million by Q4 of 2023.
Twitter’s most significant ad-revenue opportunity is to grow sales of performance-based advertising, said Matt Derella, Twitter’s global VP revenue and content partnerships. Currently, about 85% of Twitter’s ad revenue is from brand advertising, and the company’s long-term goal is to boost performance ads (i.e., direct response) from 15% to 50% of ad sales.