Twitter’s $99 subscription service isn’t going to save it

Boosting retweets while revenue tanks.
Boosting retweets while revenue tanks.
Image: Matt Mills McKnight/AP Images
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Twitter is disrupting its own engagement in an effort to save itself.

The social-media giant is testing a $99 subscription service that boosts profiles and tweets. Under the service, subscribed accounts and tweets are promoted in individual timelines and show up more frequently via Twitter’s search tool. Twitter will also generates a weekly report card with data on engagement, new followers, and impressions.

The service is different from promoted tweets, which are clearly labeled and can appear on individual timelines as well as in profiles. Both are aimed at a similar user: small- and medium-sized businesses. 

With a lackluster earnings report released Thursday sending Twitter’s stock plunging 14%, the company is looking for ways to optimize itself out of a slump. Subscriptions could be good news as an alternative to ad revenue, which has been on the decline year-over-year. Anything that helps the company bridge the gap between active users and earnings will likely be seen as a good thing, as will additional efforts to combat harassment.

But not all problems can be solved by giving users a boost to their faves and retweets—subscriptions likely won’t shake up Twitter’s stagnant growth by attracting more users. If someone believes Twitter can be beneficial to their brand or business, they’re presumably already on the platform.

As for the people already tweeting, some are concerned that subscriptions will only amplify the voices active users don’t want to hear. Critics worry Twitter’s primary subscribers will be social-media influencers, who will flood feeds with advertisements and undesirable content. “It’s a pointless change if it doesn’t drive engagement, and I can’t think of a type of Twitter user I’d want to engage with less,” writes Mashable’s Pete Pachal.

Misuse of the platform has scared off both advertisers and users alike. Twitter has yet to reveal how they’re going to tackle subscription accounts being targeted by trolls who don’t like the fact they’re seeing more tweets from paying customers on their timeline than they’d like.

“This product is still being tested at this time so not much more detail we can give at the moment,” said a Twitter representative.