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Elon Musk Twitter’s biggest influencer: how the executive’s growth affects the social network


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Tuesday, January 17, 2023. That’s the day Elon Musk will become Twitter’s number one influencer, according to analyst predictions.

With 120 million followers, the @ElonMusk account is already the second most followed on social networks, behind only @BarackObama, of the former president of the United States, who has 130 million.

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According to statisticians from Social Blade, a platform that gathers social media metrics, after a meteoric rise in his popularity since he bought Twitter, Musk will inevitably surpass Obama’s numbers.

The social media industry has never had a platform where its top executive is also the most popular on the network. What can this change for him and for the social network?

Musk gains 270k followers a day

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Despite recent controversies, Musk’s popularity on Twitter is undeniable and growing.

Over the past 12 months, he’s gained 268,303 followers a day on average, according to Social Blade, and he’s lost followers in just five days, which can be linked to some news.

He lost nearly 200,000 followers on Nov. 12, when major job cuts were announced on Twitter — and since he likely gained new followers that day as well, the actual number of people who unfollowed him must have been much higher. larger.

“Elon Musk is now the main character on Twitter,” says social media analyst Matt Navarra.

“In a way, having a CEO who is a huge influencer on the platform has some advantages because he makes himself very accessible to people.”

Few top social media executives are strong influencers on their own sites.

Meta’s president, Mark Zuckerberg, is also a celebrity — but he doesn’t post as actively on Facebook and his posts have a more corporate tone, says Navarra.

But the fact that Twitter is so closely tied to Musk, a controversial figure, could be a problem for the company.

“It is very antagonistic and inflammatory and, some might even say, quite toxic”, says Navarra. “For brands, it could be seen as potentially very dangerous.”

Technology consultant Kate Baucherel says, “Wrapping the CEO persona into the platform persona undermines any neutrality or diversity. A white male resident of the United States does not represent the world.”

Musk is tweeting 76% more since he bought Twitter

Already known as a prolific tweeter, Musk has increased his posting volume by 76% since he bought the platform, according to Social Blade.

On Tuesday, November 22 alone, he fired off 75 tweets, including posts, replies, or retweets. It’s a record for him.

“It’s great to have a CEO who uses the product,” says a former product manager at Twitter, who preferred to remain anonymous.

But he cautions: “I think people who tweet a lot are addicts, and possibly narcissists. No single person has enough interesting things to say to the whole world to tweet more than five times a day.”

On average, Musk now tweets once every 15 minutes during the standard waking hours. He sometimes posts at unusual times, including 2am.

The experts we spoke to said that having a CEO immersed in his platform could be good, but they all agreed that the type of content Musk is posting could be problematic.

Recent tweets from the new owner of the social network include sexual images and profanity. Responding to criticism that he was killing Twitter, Musk posted a meme of a man smiling beside a grave.

Navarra says that Musk is a great driver of engagement for Twitter and that his recent activity on the network has brought a significant number of new users or reactivated old ones.

“We just have to look at another character who shares an alarming amount of similarities with Elon Musk, and that is Donald Trump,” he says.

“Trump was also a huge driver of activity and engagement with his tweets, and I’m sure that was a positive for Twitter.”

“But I would also say he was probably negative given the issues he brought to content moderation. Elon Musk is having a similar effect on the platform.”

Twitter permanently suspended President Trump after the attack on the Capitol in the United States in January 2021. The social network justified the measure by speaking of “risk of greater incitement to violence”.

Musk reinstated Trump’s account on Nov. 19 following a poll on the matter on Twitter, but the former US president did not post after his account was reactivated.

Musk only follows 130 accounts

Despite gaining more than 8.6 million followers since buying Twitter, Musk himself has only followed seven new accounts in that time — bringing the total he follows to 130.

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey followed about 3,500 people when he was chief executive. Former President Barack Obama follows 570,000.

For analysts, keeping track of so few followers limits Musk’s view of what people are talking about on the social network.

“He has no idea what the experience of normal users is,” says the former Twitter manager.

“For example, he never sees ads — because we limit the amount of advertising shown to the top 1,000 users or so. So he didn’t have an understanding of that part of the product before he bought Twitter.”

Musk reportedly told Twitter’s marketing team that the ads were supposed to “look like tweets,” when the company’s ads were actually tweets.

The former Twitter manager also says that Musk’s twisted experience as a major influencer could prevent him from understanding how to improve the network and make it grow.

Twitter is smaller than other social networks and “the average time spent was a severe limitation to our growth and advertising business”, says the former manager interviewed.

“People who are committed users spend a lot of time on the network, but we need to find a way to increase the time that most users spend.”

Bringing the number of Twitter users to a billion is one of Musk’s main goals.

Today, there are about 300 million — which, at current rates, is the number of followers Musk himself will have two years from now, according to Social Blade projections.

This text was originally published here.

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