Product Failures From Twitter and Others
Learning From Past Mistakes
Twitter’s latest saga, specifically around Twitter Blue, has been an ongoing lesson in product failure (among many other failures). While some may want to steer clear from the train wreck—while others of us continue to stare with morbid curiosity—we can continue to learn from the debacle. And hopefully Twitter can too.
In late 2022, Twitter Blue subscriptions launched in an attempt to monetize Twitter and move away from a reliance on advertisers. Users could pay $8 per month for the ability to get verified (that coveted blue check), edit tweets, move to the top of the comment section, and customize the Twitter experience, among other things.
Unfortunately, everything about the Twitter Blue product has fallen short. The question always was, “how could you get people to pay for a free product?” The answer has been: “not easily.”
According to Mashable:
Approximately 619,858 Twitter users were subscribed to Twitter Blue as of the end of April. That's around $5 million per month or $60 million per year.
Since November 2022, Twitter has only been able to convert around 600,000 users to paid subscriptions. And Mashable goes on to further discuss the problems:
Out of about 150,000 early subscribers to Twitter Blue, just around 68,157 have stuck around and maintained a paid subscription as of April 30…
That means around 81,843 users, or 54.5 percent, of Twitter users who subscribed to Twitter Blue when it first launched in November are no longer subscribed to the service.
That's an abnormally high churn rate for an online subscription service. Churn rate is the percentage of users that unsubscribe from a service.
According to one study released last year by the subscription management company Recurly, the average overall annual churn rate is only 5.57 percent for subscription-based businesses.
So Twitter Blue’s features aren’t encouraging retention like you would expect. And that churn rate is exceptionally high.
The revenue has also been incredibly poor. Advertisers have left Twitter while not enough users have signed up for subscriptions to make up for the loss:
Bloomberg said that from September to October of last year, the top 10 advertisers on Twitter spent $71 million on ads. In the past two months, the total was just $7.6 million, a decline of 89%, the research firm said.
With only $5 million a month from subscribers and $7.6 million from advertisers, the loss of $71 million in monthly ad revenue from 2022 is a bad metric.
But that may not even be the worst of it!
Some features introduced by Twitter Blue have become toxic to actual users. For example, the Twitter blue check actually used to be a coveted status symbol. It showed you were a verified account and had reached a level on Twitter where enough people were noticing you that it mattered to the community to know who was real and who wasn’t.
Blue check marks now only symbolize you are willing to pay Twitter $8 per month, and nothing more. This became a major fiasco in November when Twitter users (unsurprisingly) created fake accounts, got blue check marks, and posted obscene content that looked like it came directly from formerly verified accounts:
The blue check has become the opposite of a status symbol. In fact, many celebrities or famous accounts are actively trying to get rid of their blue checks because they aren’t paying for Twitter Blue yet they still have the blue check.
According to The Verge:
over the course of a single weekend, Twitter managed to turn its most coveted status symbol into something that (at least some) users are so upset to be associated with that they’re wondering if it’s illegal.
You know you’ve missed the mark on a product when your users are actively trying to avoid it and are visibly upset when you give it to them for free.
As Mashable now puts it:
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