Twitter for Entrepreneurs & Creators

Franco Varriano
July 28, 2021
 min read

In a previous blog post, we looked at how Instagram has evolved from a photo sharing and filter app into the hub of internet culture, creativity, and commerce that it is today. Now, we're doing the same for Twitter.

From early on, Twitter's evolving identity made it tough to nail down what the platform was to be used for, and who should use it. This made it unique from the other major social networks:

  • Facebook was the new kid on the block and came to define personal social networks;
  • LinkedIn filled the gap for professionals;
  • YouTube focused on videos and creators.

Twitter, because of its "multi-purpose, fit in anywhere" functionality, attracted a variety of groups, each with their own needs.

The platform evolved from a micro-blogging service into a hyper-local, real-time news service, and more...

In fact, beyond the initial concept of a character-limited, text-based broadcasting service, most of Twitter's identifying core features were conceived by its community of users, and were then eventually (sometimes reluctantly) added to the product.

Here are two interesting features that were generated by users:

  • The hashtag was invented by technologist Chris Messina and first adopted by the Twitter community before spreading to internet platforms more generally;
  • Images and videos were first added to Twitter via external services, then later became natively supported.

Over the past few years, and especially from late 2020 into early 2021, the team at Twitter has stepped up its game, especially in the face of mounting competition from other networks and companies building for the Creator Economy.

Twitter has one thing these newcomers don't: lots of users with an established social graph (meaning you don't need to build a new network from scratch if you've already been active).

This in mind, let's see how Twitter is positioning itself as a hub for creators and entrepreneurs!

Key Twitter features for entrepreneurs and creators

Free and paid newsletters – January 2021

Sometimes trends and user behaviours overlap. In the case of newsletters, Twitter saw two distinctive things happening:

  • Its users had evolved a previous (spontaneous) behavior of chaining Tweets on a related topic or story together (called Tweetstorms) into more planned, post-like stories called "threads." Some people liked threads, others accused their authors of creating blog posts.
  • Substack, a writing platform that essentially combines Medium, Mailchimp, and Patreon, saw explosive growth from mid to late 2020. This was thanks, in part, to the way authors were leveraging their own Twitter networks for distribution and to gain subscribers. Substack offered individuals a way to monetize their audience effectively and easily.

There were rumors that Twitter planned to acquire Substack. Shortly after that fell through, Twitter announced they had acquired another company called Revue. Twitter newsletters were born!

(Audio) Spaces – January and February 2021

Twitter had been experimenting with audio tweets and similar features at the start of 2020. That’s when, over the late summer months, a new social audio startup began to gain rapid traction within the tech and startup circles of Silicon Valley.

Clubhouse was the talk of the internet over the 2020 holiday season with its scarcity/status-driven invitation system, impressive valuation, and rapid user growth.

Twitter had made key acquisitions to support its own audio ambitions. Seeing the success of Clubhouse, the platform launched its own beta version called Spaces—while simultaneously entering into acquisition talks with Clubhouse (which didn’t materialize).

Super Follows - February 2021

Jumping onto the "help creators monetize" bandwagon—and armed with the fresh new features just mentioned—Twitter announced Super Follows, which enable creators to launch paid membership programs for followers who are interested in paying for access. This makes it possible for creators to make money by keeping their best content behind a Super Follows paywall of sorts.

Communities - March 2021

This feature was hinted at as part of the Super Follows announcement. Communities enable Twitter users to manage a community of other Twitter users inside a private group or stream, allowing the creator of that group to share special content exclusively with its members.

Tip Jar, Twitter Blue, Ticketed Spaces - May 2021

Tip Jar

Following the lead of other major platforms that have enabled users and creators to directly monetize via tips, Twitter launched its own version called Tip Jar—with a unique twist.

The feature piggybacks on several money transfer apps such as Patreon, CashApp, Venmo, and others so creators can keep on using their favorite app to receive tips.

And Twitter doesn't take a cut! (At least for now...)

Twitter Blue

It started off as a rumor in May, but quickly became a thing in June (at least for some countries).

A premium subscription product, Twitter Blue is for the Twitter power user to access a few new features (the list is sure to grow) like: Undo Tweet, Bookmarks and a streamlined Thread view.

Expect more updates here soon!

Ticketed Spaces

Twitter Spaces, the platform’s response to Clubhouse as an audio-only area of the platform, is getting a premium feature: ticketed spaces.

This feature will enable anyone to create premium spaces that are accessible only through the purchase of a ticket!

Unlike Tip Jar, which sends an individual money directly, Ticketed Spaces is more like and in-app purchase and involves a revenue sharing model between Twitter, the host, and the app store (iOS or Android).

Twitter Shopping - July 2021

Perhaps this is the first hint of more collaboration between CEO Jack Dorsey's two companies (Twitter and Square)?

Twitter Shopping is currently only being introduced in the United States as a test, but it clearly aligns with the previous features that are aimed at helping creators and entrepreneurs build real businesses from their social following.

It wouldn't be a big stretch of the imagination to see this feature becoming available within Twitter Spaces.

What's next?

More people than ever are looking to the internet to monetize their ideas, tastes, knowledge, and so much more.

Driven by their passions and easily connecting with and amassing followers who are eager to learn, share, and collaborate, these creators are the next generation of entrepreneurs.

It’s still the early days, but already creators are navigating this new world of near-infinite possibilities and trying to figure out where they fit within the tiers of creator-led businesses.

This exciting uprising is happening as the internet undergoes a transformative evolution. These changes will effectively force the previous generation of established platforms to evolve from an advertising-based model to a commerce-based model.

Bigger social media platforms—Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, among others—need to adapt their offerings to users and individuals who create value on their platforms, or risk seeing them leave altogether!

Creator tools are rapidly becoming the primary focus of many companies, as a way to seamlessly enable this class of users to not only monetize, but also build their business.

There's never been a better time to be an entrepreneur, and it's only getting better!