Twitter’s Longform Strategy
What does the future hold for readers and writers on Twitter?
From the beginning, Twitter has been a great way to find something to read that’s longer than a tweet. But even though the general adage is true that “whoever generates the demand captures the value,” Twitter has captured very little of the revenue in digital publishing, despite generating tons of demand. Sure, they show advertisements to users scrolling through their timelines and clicking on things to read, but Twitter doesn’t keep any of the ad revenue they drive to publishers when they send millions of users to their sites, in the form of viral tweets and trending topic placements. And the subscription boom that has gathered steam over the past 5–10 years on sites large (New York Times, Bloomberg, etc) and small (Stratechery, individual Substacks, writer collectives, etc) has entirely passed Twitter by, even though a huge proportion of those subscription relationships can ultimately be traced back to a tweet. This is a company that occupies an indispensable layer of the value chain, but hasn’t yet found a way to monetize it.
Today, they launched something that gives me the feeling they’re ready to change that.
Essentially, Twitter is giving writers that use their recently-acquired newsletter platform, Revue, a killer feature that no other newsletter publishing platform can offer: premium placement on your Twitter profile. Tony Haile, a Senior Director of Product at Twitter, explained it like this: “Subscribe to someone's newsletter direct from their profile page in two clicks.”
For now, this feature only works with Revue. If you use Substack, Ghost, or any other publishing platform, you’ll have to rely on the old “link in bio” or “pinned tweet” trick. In theory you could use Revue’s API or Zapier to send your newsletter subscribers elsewhere, but it’s unclear whether they’ll allow that to stand.
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