Twitter touts ‘Super Follows’ in aim to double revenue by 2023

Twitter unveiled a range of new potential features on Thursday, including tools that will allow users to charge their followers for exclusive content, as it seeks to expand its revenue sources beyond advertising and boost engagement.

The social media platform on Thursday said it was exploring a “Super Follows” feature, where users could choose to pay certain accounts a subscription fee for exclusive content, as well as tools for tipping users.

“We . . . think that an audience-funded model, where subscribers can directly find the content that they value most, is a durable incentive model that aligns the interests of creators and consumers,” said Dantley Davis, Twitter’s chief design officer, in a virtual presentation during its investor day.

The move would allow journalists, influencers and content creators to generate revenues independently, with Twitter potentially taking a cut. Rival social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube have in recent years rolled out direct payments features, which have become increasingly popular during the pandemic among creatives who have not been able to charge for live performances. 

Twitter also said it planned to allow users to create and join groups called “Communities”, whereby they would be able to customise their feed to see more content focused on their interests or post only to those sharing those interests, for example. 

The new feature announcements came after Twitter set out its first-ever long-term revenue and user goals in a regulatory filing. It said it was aiming to grow monetisable daily active users — a homegrown metric that counts the number of logged-in users to whom the platform shows advertising — to 315m by the end of 2023, compared with the 192m it reported in its latest earnings report.

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It also plans to “at least double” its annual revenue from $3.7bn in 2020 to at least $7.5bn in 2023, it said. 

The news boosted the company’s share price by as much as 7 per cent to record highs of around $76, bucking a broader sell-off in tech stocks.

Last year the activist hedge fund Elliott Management took a 4 per cent — or $1bn — stake in the company and attempted to oust chief executive Jack Dorsey amid concerns over his leadership and sluggish product innovation. 

Dorsey said the company also planned to build new products and features more quickly in order to meet its user growth and revenue goals.

Twitter is in the middle of introducing other new formats for users to communicate over the platform beyond the short character posts, including a Clubhouse-type audio-room feature called Spaces.

It also recently acquired the newsletter platform Revue, allowing it to host longer-form written content on Twitter, which users could potentially subscribe to via the Super Follow feature.

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