By Jay Bemis | Advertising Systems Inc.
Elon Musk’s sudden rebranding last week of Twitter to “an everything app” named X sent branding and marketing experts abuzz, with some calling the billionaire’s move a worthy risk and others wondering if it will be a “dud.”
Since acquiring Twitter in 2022 for $44 billion, Musk has been open about his ambition to build an “everything app” akin to China’s WeChat, which, with over a billion monthly users, has become the world’s biggest stand-alone mobile app.
What’s the attraction of WeChat that has landed it so many users? There are a number of them: It provides text messaging, hold-to-talk voice messaging, broadcast (one-to-many) messaging, video conferencing, video games, mobile payment, sharing of photographs and videos, and location sharing, all from one platform.
The mobile-payment portion of WeChat is not something unfamiliar for Musk, who founded PayPal in the late 1990s when he began building his fortune. He now has amassed a net worth that Forbes has placed at $242 billion, which places him atop Forbes’ list of the world’s richest people, leading French luxury goods kingpin Bernard Arnault by about $8 billion and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos by roughly $90 billion.
Musk’s sudden clean break from Twitter and its “bird-based brand baggage is a sort of symbolic sacrifice to wipe the slate clean” and sets the stage for the X app that Musk envisions, branding and marketing experts said in interviews with Forbes last week.
Sam Ashken, a senior strategy director at brand consultancy Interbrand, told Forbes that there likely is more to Twitter’s rapid revamp than meets the eye. He noted that Musk is one of the “most skillful manipulators of social media in the world” for whom “outrage and apparent recklessness is often part of the point.”
Vicky Bullen, chief executive of branding and design agency Coley Porter Bell, agreed, saying that while Musk’s “odd” approach “seems reckless on the surface,” it has achieved what many brands take months to do “virtually overnight.”
The rebrand will “start to look a bit smart” if X quickly starts adding features that were devoid from Twitter, Ashken said, which could leave rivals such as Instagram’s Threads behind and in a different category.
“But if it’s basically Twitter with no radically new non tweet type features like banking or mobile payments,” he added, “then I think it starts to look like a real branding dud.”
Rebrand May Cause Headaches for Some Businesses
Some 30 million businesses in the United States use social media as part of their content marketing strategy, and a high percentage of them use Twitter, as well as such popular platforms as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest, to display their content.
Website and social media managers nationwide must be asking such questions as “when do we change our ‘follow us’ link at the bottom of our web page from the Twitter bird to this new X?” (From our surfing of the web in recent days, the Twitter bird still flies high at the bottom of many such sites.)
Are you among the social marketing or website managers who’s wondering how the Twitter-to-X rebranding will affect your strategy and operations? Experts are offering plenty of tips on possible actions you may need to take. Foremost among them we think is this:
- Keep an eye on the news and trends related to X and its competitors — particularly whatever Elon Musk might spring upon us this week or next.
In other words, no need to get too hasty in changing any of the “follow us” icons we noted earlier — Musk might decide to tweak his new X logo later this week.
While surveying X-related news and trends, you may need to adapt your strategy and tactics based on the latest developments in social media. For example, you may need to consider diversifying your presence on other platforms, such as Threads, Instagram, TikTok or LinkedIn, depending on where your target audience is most active and engaged.
More Expert Tips on the Twitter-to-X Rebrand
As the Twitter-to-X rebrand unfolds, here are other actions you might decide to take, social media experts say:
- Update your branding guidelines and assets to reflect the new name and logo of X. This may include changing your profile picture, cover photo, bio, website link, hashtags and mentions on X and other platforms. You also may need to update your email signatures, business cards, presentations, reports and other materials that feature the old Twitter logo or name.
- Monitor the performance and engagement of your posts on X using analytics tools like Hootsuite, Sprout Social or Buffer. You may need to adjust your content, tone, frequency and timing of your posts, depending on how your audience reacts to the rebranding.
- Communicate with your stakeholders and customers about the rebranding and how it affects your brand and services. You may need to explain why you are still using X or why you are switching to another platform. You also may need to address any questions or concerns that these partners may have about the rebranding and its implications for your relationship with them.
- Evaluate the pros and cons of staying on X or leaving it for another platform. You might weigh such factors as reach, engagement, cost, functionality, reputation, trust, security, privacy and ethics when making this decision. You may also need to consult with your team, management, clients, partners and peers before making any major changes.