Social media has proven to be a source of income for content creators. Likewise, these platforms offer ways to help creators in generating more income. For instance, Twitter allows content creators to set ad budgets with certain goals or promote tweets. The revenue system is pretty straightforward when boiled down: you pay X amount for Y engagements while advertisers bid against one another for access to your page. Your revenue becomes partially based on whoever the highest bidder is and how viral a tweet or thread gets.
Recently, a new startup from Stir, a company focusing on small businesses and startups, has emerged to help “monetize natively on Twitter.” OnlyTweets is an app-based product designed to allow users to place a paywall before their Twitter account. The idea behind the paywall is to allow users and influencers to charge whatever they choose to access their tweets, supposedly giving them better revenue than going through the Twitter ad service alone.
OnlyTweets offers the ability to set a paywall in front of your feed at whatever price you choose. Per their own website, “We’ve decided on a 90:10 split with creators. The funds collected by OnlyTweets will be placed in an account that is directed towards empowering up and coming creators.” With all of this in mind, I would say OnlyTweets is not a replacement for but a supplement to standard Twitter revenue.
According to Reuters’ article and subsequent tweet, Twitter is considering a tipping system and paid subscriptions as revenues have recently waned. From Twitter’s 2021 Virtual Analyst Day recording, they are planning to offer similar services such as paid subscriptions and groups as built-in features within the year. It seems like they’re gearing up for more plans in the future as they discussed several innovations and ideas that they intend to roll out in 2021. How this will affect other revenue platforms like OnlyTweets is as of yet unknown, but it certainly creates the opportunity for competition.
Is it a violation of Twitter’s ToS?
As far as I can tell, there is no particular section of the Twitter terms of service that disallows the OnlyTweets app from placing a pay barrier of any kind in front of a person’s content. However, after some research, I found a few things in the “Using the Service” part of the ToS that might spell trouble for anyone using words related to Twitter in any meaningful way. Specifically, this paragraph on the license to use Twitter reads as follows:
“Nothing in the Terms gives you a right to use the Twitter name or any of the Twitter trademarks, logos, domain names, other distinctive brand features, and other proprietary rights. All right, title, and interest in and to the Services (excluding Content provided by users) are and will remain the exclusive property of Twitter and its licensors.”
How this may or may not affect the use of the name OnlyTweets or any other product such as TweetDeck, I can’t say. What I can say for certain is that it would appear the legal battle since the word “Tweet” was settled in October 2011 in Twitter’s favor, with the social media giant “awarded exclusive rights to the trademark by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.”
I don’t know if the concept of a paywall is a good or bad idea. I know that people will continue innovating and coming up with ways to capitalize on valuable sources of revenue. We live in the age of the “hustle,” pertaining to people working longer, smarter, and harder than ever before. This is especially true for the tech industry, where innovation is a race to see who comes up with the next breakthrough fastest and who can get a trademark slapped on it first, like OnlyTweets. As I see it, we are just now moving into the next big tech boom, and I can’t wait to see what comes out of it.