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Bye Bye Birdie: What the ‘Twitter’ to ‘X’ Transition Means for Marketing

Lauren Cook

Content Creator

The internet’s most famous bird is no more. Over the past year, after being purchased by billionaire Elon Musk, Twitter has been steadily rebranded to ‘X,’ what Musk calls “the everything app.” ‘Tweets’ are now simply ‘posts,’ ‘retweets’ are ‘reposts,’ and the iconic bird logo is nowhere to be found. But is this purely an aesthetic change, or has it altered how social media marketers should approach the platform?
First, a little background. Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter took place over a very rocky seven months, from April to October of 2022. What started as a few innocent tweets (a Twitter user suggested Musk buy the platform; he responded, “How much is it?”) quickly escalated into a complicated string of offers, retreated, calculated business moves, lawsuits, and several snarky tweets on Musk’s behalf. Finally, the deal was closed on October 27, with Musk shelling out a whopping $44 billion (yes, billion with a B) for control of the platform. After a complete overhaul of the company, during which many of Twitter’s board members and staff were unceremoniously fired, ‘Twitter’ was rebranded into ‘X,’ falling under Musk’s megacorporation ‘X Corp.’ 
Needless to say, reaction to Twitter’s new management and makeover has been mixed at best. Musk has been open about his campaign to make the social media site “the platform for free speech across the globe,” though some have noted a rise in hate speech on the site following the acquisition. But with all of that aside, it’s important for business owners and marketers to understand how this change affects their ability to advertise on the platform. How does marketing on X work in the post-Twitter era?
Potentially, the biggest advantage X has in the marketing sphere is the versatility of its ads. On Instagram, users are limited to boosting image-based content such as photos or videos (they could turn to Instagram’s X competitor Threads, though it’s struggled to keep up traction after its initial launch), while TikTok, of course, deals purely with videos. Being a text-based platform, however, X offers the ability to promote simile text as well as images or vertical videos. Facebook is similar in that it doesn’t require images to turn a post into an ad, but X remains the much “faster” platform; as it centers around bullet-point news and conversation, marketers can more effectively engage in discourse and show their relevance as a brand. Elon Musk has called X/Twitter a “de facto town square,” where people can engage with each other at a much faster pace. Businesses looking for a more personal and individualized approach to marketing can take advantage of this as well as paid promoted ads. 
“Individual,” actually, is a common theme on X. While on Facebook and Instagram, users must operate an approved business account in order to boost their posts, anyone with a profile and a credit card can advertise on X, provided they fulfill a few basic requirements. This may, from some perspectives, serve to further Musk’s stated goal of preserving free speech, but it’s a bit of a blow for businesses. When any X user with a Premium subscription (marked by the famous blue checkmark, which under Musk now denotes a paid subscriber rather than a recognized public figure or entity) can promote their content on the platform, it’s easy for businesses to get lost in a sea of twee– sorry, posts. 
Then, of course, there’s the elephant in the room – high profile advertisers cutting back on their ad spending on X or leaving the platform entirely. We’re talking really high profile – Disney, Apple, Coca-Cola, Netflix, and many more. Remember that hate speech some users reported seeing rise after Musk’s takeover? Turns out it’s not ideal for your brand to have an ad show up right beneath a blatantly anti-Semitic post. Add to that concerns about disinformation and Musk’s “erratic” behavior, as some have called it, and it becomes a bit clearer why there’s been an exodus from the platform. 
X is by no means a defunct social media site, nor should it be completely counted out as an advertising route. Brands looking to engage more directly with customers and stay on top of relevant discourse could benefit from investing in the site. However, it’s also worth considering the cons that come with the pros. The black and white ‘X’ logo carries a much different cultural connotation than the Twitter bird. Like any marketing strategy, business owners should decide if that’s something that aligns with their message. Do you see your brand thriving in this new, post-Twitter landscape?
Check out our Trends at Ten podcast for more thoughts on the Twitter-to-X makeover.