It's time to stop advertising on Twitter

Elon simply can't be trusted.

Elon Musk appeared at The New York Times’ Dealbook Summit yesterday and shared some truly concerning perspectives. I’d prefer you watch the below video before reading on—I think it’s important you, a marketer, hear his unfiltered words.

“Don’t advertise. If someone’s gonna try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money? Go fuck yourself. Go. Fuck. Yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is. Hey Bob, if you’re in the audience. That’s how I feel.”

The Bob he’s referencing: Disney CEO Bob Iger. After Elon publicly endorsed an antisemitic conspiracy theory popular among White supremacists, many large companies pulled their advertising budgets from the platform, including Disney.

Iger spoke at the same Dealbook Summit earlier that day before Elon’s comments, explaining why Disney would no longer advertise on Twitter.

“I have a lot of respect for Elon and what he’s accomplished. Not just you know, one business, but a few businesses. And we know Elon is larger than life in many respects, and that his name is very much tied to the companies he either founded or he owns, whether it’s Tesla or SpaceX, or now X. And by him taking the position that he took in quite a public manner, we just felt that the association with that position and Elon Musk and X was not necessarily a positive one for us. And we decided we would pull our advertising.”

Disney’s in good company. Here’s an incomplete-but-notable list of brands who’ve stopped advertising on Twitter.

  • Apple

  • Paramount

  • Comcast

  • Lionsgate

  • NBCUniversal

  • Warner Bros. Discovery

  • IBM

  • Fox Sports

  • Axios

  • TechCrunch

It’s time to stop advertising on Twitter.

Brands: Elon is quite literally telling you he doesn’t care about you. He doesn’t care about public perception. He doesn’t care about brand safety. And most strangely: he doesn’t seem to care about ad revenue, which makes up as much as 90% of Twitter’s overall revenue.

If the man is shouting on stage that he doesn’t care about you, why would you spend your brand’s advertising budget there?

Let’s not forget: last year, Elon’s obsession with verification caused him to launch a half-baked version where any random tweeter could easily impersonate a brand, costing one company billions.

Elon. Doesn’t. Care. About. Brands.

And hey, you know what? Fine. At face value, social networks should be built for the people. And I’m sure in Elon’s mind, that’s what he’s preaching. But he far from represents the people at large, and his insistence on pissing off advertisers will result in the collapse of Twitter. He even said so: “if the company fails because of an advertiser boycott, it will fail because of an advertiser boycott, and that will be what bankrupts the company, and that’s what everyone on Earth will know.”

I want to write something more scientific in this section… but really, what more is there to it? If someone shows you who they are, believe them.

Twitter’s a mediocre advertising platform, anyway.

Let’s remove emotion & ethics from the conversation (which you shouldn’t, but for the thought exercise of it all, we will).

Twitter has always been secondary to Meta’s advertising opportunities. Plain and simple. It’s a big enough social network that it was worth throwing some dollars at for safety’s sake, but 2023 advertising thinking doesn’t offer unsubstantiated media budgets anymore.

Maybe you’ve heard of Marketing Twitter or NBA Twitter or [insert subject matter] Twitter. It’s a common nomenclature for niche Twitter communities—if you can niche it, it’s somewhere on Twitter.

Naturally, that means DTC Twitter exists, where paid media experts chat about what’s working for them & where they’re spending client advertising budgets. And all of the conversations are about Meta advertising. Not a mention of Twitter advertising in sight.

Think about that. Paid media experts are using Twitter to talk about advertising… but not advertising on Twitter.

To be fair, Twitter’s advertising issues aren’t an Elon-created problem. Their advertising offerings have never been strong, including under previous leadership. I remember when Twitter reps would visit the ad agencies I worked at—smart, capable salespeople, some of the best in the industry—and I could rarely in good faith suggest Twitter’s advertising products.

Wanna know who else thinks Twitter’s ad products are terrible?

Should your brand leave organic Twitter, too?

I leave that one up to you. My stance to date:

  • If your brand has a Twitter following, there hasn’t been a reason to stop making content for that following.

  • If you’re starting a social media presence from scratch, I wouldn’t focus on Twitter; Instagram & TikTok have wider reach, more users, are easier to grow on, and focus on content that’s easily repurposed for other social networks.

For my personal social, I’m staying on Twitter. As an individual, I think it’s important to stay in the conversation—I can represent my beliefs best by being there. And let’s be fair—a portion of my income comes from Twitter.

For my consulting clients, I’ll likely stick to my previous organic stance—it’s their audience, not Elon’s.

I find the “then don’t use the product” argument to be an oversimplification—I’m gonna use the parts that benefit me, or the brands I work with, and not the parts that I don’t think benefit me or the brands I work with. I don’t think Elon’s ridiculousness will cause issues within your organic community—I do think it will regarding your paid advertising efforts.

The only money I’d advise brands to spend on Twitter is for verification due to brand safety.

Brands, you should listen to Elon.

Do exactly what he’s saying. Stop advertising with him. Go fuck yourself, all the way to every other advertising platform, where you’ll find more effectiveness, more care for brand safety, and less insane leadership.