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X (Twitter) in decline: Is advertising on the X social media platform still useful in digital marketing?

By Fran Prince – Director

Following a rebrand to ‘X’ and a spout of personal and political tweets from Elon Musk – who took over Twitter in October 2022 – there’s debate among marketers around if X is still a relevant advertising platform in digital marketing efforts throughout 2024 and beyond.   

In today’s day and age, brand reputation is everything. Several research studies have found that the impact of the brand change – alongside Elon Musk’s controversial views – has lost the platform almost three million UK visitors to its website to date.  

Put simply, brands do not want to be connected to benefiting a platform which is owned by someone that does not follow their ethical views, similar to how they would not want to appoint a brand ambassador that does not align with its values. 

What is a rebrand vs a brand refresh?

Businesses might opt for a brand refresh or a rebrand when trying to achieve a different goal or give a brand a boost when they may have become slightly outdated.   

Often, a brand refresh is a simple design overhaul that can help businesses realign their objectives, potentially reach a new space or audience and help it to stand out amongst its competitors.  

Whereas a rebrand will overhaul a brand from the ground up – it overhauls brand strategy, positioning and identity – sometimes even mission and vision – and is much more than a simple logo change.  

When to rebrand a company

A rebrand can be beneficial when:   

  • Resetting and potentially distancing itself from negative perceptions 
  • Expanding into new markets 
  • Attracting different types of businesses  
  • Improving brand reputation  
  • Standing out among competitors 
  • Shifting service or enhancing business offering 

So, is rebranding always the right thing to do?

In the case of ‘X’ it was spurred on by the acquisition by Elon Musk’s X Corp, as a desire to tie the brand to his personal status. With this, he removed renown phrases such as ‘tweet’ and its recognisable bird icon, stating he wanted it to become the ‘everything app’ including the ability to conduct an individual’s financial world.   

However, this lost the business a significant number of users in the first few months and almost half of its advertisers over an extended period – in fact ad revenue slumped by 54% just one year after the takeover. Musk’s personal opinions and loose stances on moderation has seen brands distancing themselves from his owned platform, with countless numbers of big brands cancelling paid campaigns on X. The stats back this up as well, with Silicon research showing that more recently ad sales are predicted to fall by over 50% to £1.9bn, down from £3.69bn before his takeover. 

Some of its biggest advertisers – including Apple, Paramount, Warner Bros. and Disney – have all paused advertising spend, and FMCG businesses and retailers such as Nestle, Kellogg Company and Coca-Cola have followed suit.   

In theory, no exercise to understand its existing audiences was thoroughly undertaken, rival platforms like Meta’s Threads were released as a similar communications platform and the brand stripped away the only things audiences truly value – authenticity and ethics.   

So, while rebrands can work in a business’s favour – research and reputation should always be at the heart of any change.   

How valuable is X as an advertising platform and are people still using it?  

With so many advertisers leaving the platform, it is said to be a substantially cheaper to advertise on due to the lessened competition (with a much lower Cost Per Impression rate compared to other platforms like Meta and TikTok). Let’s not forget Musk’s decision to lock verification ticks behind paywalls, reinstate banned accounts and apply reading limits – all of which hinders users and poses a security risk.   

Agencies and marketers grow more in favour of newer platforms such as TikTok – which is ranked globally as the best quality ad platform. Statistics also say users are 1.5x more likely to purchase something they discover on TikTok and up to 44% of users find TikTok the best place to discover brands – great news for the retail and hospitality sector in particular.

What about return on advertising spend?  

Feedback from an array of clients Cartwright Communications working within the F&B manufacturing and retail sectors tells us that while many previously chose to use X as a community management tool, it has continued to be declining in popularity for some time with ambitions to grow with new purchasers in the Gen Z category that have entered the workplace.   

For manufacturers in the B2B food and beverage sectors, many brands have been turning to LinkedIn – and as of October 2023, LinkedIn boasted over 830 million active users, compared to Twitter’s 340 million. LinkedIn is experiencing a 27% year-over-year increase in year sessions, while Twitter’s user base is declining. A recent Hootsuite study found that 74% of professionals believe LinkedIn is the most credible social media platform for business purposes.  

Facebook overall still generates the highest return-on-investment compared to other social platforms and sees a high conversion rate for ads on the platform with an average of 9.21%. Campaigns on Instagram Reels however still reach nearly twice the audience of those on TikTok and are relatively cheaper, so remain high on the agenda for many consumer facing industries.   

Put simply, brands do not want to be connected to benefiting a platform which is owned by someone that does not follow their ethical views, similar to how they would not want to appoint a brand ambassador or influencer that does not align with their values.   

It remains to be seen how X’s destiny will continue to unfold, but watching the decline in loyal advertisers and users continue, it could certainly be considered at crisis point.  

Contact our branding and social media specialists 

If you’re looking to discuss brand reputation, then get in touch about our branding and social media services.   

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