Betwixt the confusing cacophony of celebration, condemnation, and everything in between, perhaps the most interesting about Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter is that the social media platform has never been more buzzing nor had its users more engaged.
As noted by the man himself in what else, but a tweet.
That being said, it is a fact that many celebrities and the hoi polloi have departed from the platform, as have advertisers, who contribute to the vast majority of earnings to Musk’s $44 billion purchase. Major companies have paused their ad spends, causing the world’s richest man to lash out at “activists”, whom he accuses of denigrating the platform. So what are the alternatives?
Shajesh Menon, Founder and CEO, Younion, notes that while this looks like a well-laid-out opportunity for alternate platforms like Mastodon, Cohost, Tribel Social and others, as reported by breathless media reports, “Crucial factors like subscriber volume, platform stickiness, structural framework for engagements, propensity to attract, value for advertisers and the community alike will determine the stronghold of any or many options; ones available and others that are evolving.”
Raghav Bagai, Co-Founder of Sociowash agrees, saying, “Twitter is a powerful platform which has garnered massive traction in its niche over the decade and a half. Replicating it or finding an alternative to it will be hard and time-consuming. Mastodon and indigenous Koo are emerging as alternatives. Still, they are too nascent, and for them to create a robust advertising platform similar to Twitter and its niche, targeting possibilities and opportunities will take time.”
Danish Malik, Co-Founder and CEO of Boomlet Media Private Limited, observes that India in particular is a sentiment-driven nation, especially when national interest is in question.
“A few years back, Koo was considered the best alternative to Twitter and was highly promoted by the media, but it ultimately succumbed to failure for many brands or creators that couldn't settle,” says Malik, adding, “In the past few days, Boomlet's Influencer crisis team has monitored the recent shift in perception that Mastodon is the new Twitter or an alternative to it. Finding an immediate replacement for Twitter is difficult and might take time to adapt.”
Neeraj Sharma, Senior Vice President, L&K Saatchi & Saatchi, says that marketers can decide to deploy it (ad spend on Twitter) on the best performing platform. “It could be search, GDN, Facebook posts or Instagram stories, based on what works for them and what the objective is in terms of the purchase funnel.”
He adds that this gives them the leeway to experiment and explore new platforms “Tiktok is growing big as an alternative to Google and Meta in terms of digital marketing. With Tiktok being absent in India Moj, MX Takatak or YouTube Shorts could be a beneficiary. Not to forget Amazon, as it commands the 3rd largest digital revenue. If the emphasis is on conversion, it could be a direct beneficiary,” he says.
Bagai suggests that those advertisers/brands that are unwilling to ride the new opportunity Twitter currently presents can look at spreading out their planned spending across existing platforms like Meta, Google, and Linkedin for BAU activities and maybe experiment with the likes of Snapchat and Discord, which are gaining acceptance and momentum via Gen-Z audiences.
Prachi Bali National Head, Client Partnerships and Business Head – North, FoxyMoron, adds, "It’s been our observation amongst Indian brands that nothing has drastically has changed in terms of sentiment towards the platform. How companies adopt the platform changes would be dependent on a lot of factors including how Twitter handles its current delicate situation and what the plan for the future is."
As Bagai notes, “This shake-up has made waves in the media, making many flock to Twitter to check what is happening (myself included), helping Twitter garner staggering numbers of DAUs. This presents us, marketers, with an opportunity to reach out to our target audience, where they currently are, being disruptive in a flux platform and carve out a presence and share of voice where advertiser numbers are dwindling; this directly affects the cost of advertising as well, since it is dependent on the demand.”
“This leaves marketing professionals with two choices; one is to ride this new wave and accept whatever uncertainty is there or, wait out of this storm and see what happens when the dust settles and miss out on the opportunity,” he says.
Sharma points out, “And if nothing else you can always run a promotion. The word “free” is the most loved word of humanity after “love”, or maybe it’s the other way round.”