Elon Musk’s X posting fee plan causes jitters in Kenya

The potential audience that Kenyan marketers can reach with ads on X declined by 26,000, or 1.4 percent. 

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Revelation that billionaire tech investor Elon Musk is toying with the idea of introducing a charge for all new users seeking to put up posts, like or comment on X (formerly Twitter) has caused jitters among influencer marketers and digital advertisers who eke a living out of the platform.

They fear that the move could scare away new traffic from the app.

Musk hinted at the move last Monday, saying it was the first step towards arresting the growing prevalence of internet bots as well as the growth of fake accounts which he said are contributing to a surge in spam content.

“New accounts are required to pay a small annual fee before you’re able to post, like, bookmark and reply. This is to reduce spam and create a better experience for everyone. You can still follow accounts and browse X for free,” X wrote in an update before Musk amplified the shift.

“Unfortunately, a small fee for new-user write access is the only way to curb the relentless onslaught of bots. Current AI (and troll farms) can pass “are you a bot?” with ease. The onslaught of fake accounts also uses up the available namespace, so many good handles are taken as a result,” said Musk in a follow-up post.

But while a number of users are edgy about what this could translate into with regards to onboarding of more traffic to the platform for advertising purposes, others are upbeat that the elimination of bots and spam accounts would be positive as it would give rise to authentic engagements.

“X has been battling with spam and bot accounts for years. The introduction of the annual fee for new users to fight the bots is just a short-term solution but I don’t think it’s a long-term solution. The bad actors are still able to pay,” opines social media commentator strategist Egline Samoei.

“Marketers, advertisers and brands would definitely love to hear that bots and spam accounts are eliminated from the platform for authentic engagements,” she states.

Sharing similar sentiments, digital marketing strategist Nyandia Gachago observes that while the weeding out of sham accounts could aid in raising the quality of engagements, it could initially lead to a slowdown of growth in traffic numbers.

“I feel that implementing a fee for posting, liking or commenting on a platform like X could indeed deter new users from signing up initially, potentially impacting traffic growth rates. However, it could also result in a more engaged and higher quality user base as those willing to pay are likely to be more invested in meaningful interactions,” avers Ms Gachago.

“For influencer marketers like myself, this shift could mean a smaller but potentially more valuable audience, as those remaining on the platform are more likely to be genuinely interested in the content rather than simply seeking quick clicks.”

X owner Musk has also declared an onslaught against “accounts doing engagement farming” saying they will be suspended and traced at source.

This refers to accounts that engage in deliberate acts of posting offensive, controversial or generic content that sparks reactions online without any additional value, or click-baiting by uploading irrelevant content on trends.

The developments are a continuation of an aggressive shake-up that Musk has embarked on since he took over ownership of the popular platform in October 2022.

Notable changes

Among other notable changes that have occurred under his watch include rebranding from Twitter to X, unveiling a paid subscription service for account verifications as well as launching plans for a payment scheme for creators based on content impressions.

Three months after taking over control, Musk reported that X had lost at least half of its marketing revenue as advertisers held back in protest against new charges for previously free services as well as repeated technical failures following the Tesla boss’ move to effect mass sackings in the firm.

At the time of the takeover, the platform was estimated to be enjoying around 200 million active users daily.

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