Twitter could be gaining millions in quarterly ad revenue from an influx of conservative Twitter users in the days after Elon Musk’s takeover bid, data of followers of major partisan accounts suggests, more than offsetting potential losses from an exodus of left-leaning accounts amid concerns over the billionaire’s approach to free speech and censorship on the platform.
The Key Facts
Two days following the announcement of Musk’s acquisition of Twitter on Monday, leading conservative accounts gained an average of 17,229 followers while leading liberal ones lost 6,062 followers, according to data from analytics tool Social Blade analyzed by The Verge.
The shift—with conservative accounts gaining roughly three followers for every one liberal accounts lose—appears to be the result of organic “account creation and deactivation,” rather than the platform taking action against rule breaking accounts, a Twitter spokesperson told SME.
If there is no overlap among the users who follow the 50 most conservative accounts, Twitter could see an increase of $5.6 million in advertising revenue from the influx. SME estimates, based on Twitter’s financial report from the last quarter of 2021.
Florida Governor. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday alone (141,556)—the most of any top 50 conservative account—could earn Twitter an estimated $923,000 in ad revenue a quarter, SME Estimates, including gains to Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., that this day was worth approximately $163,000 and $267,000 respectively.
The gain Twitter stands to make from users flocking to follow conservative accounts on the platform after Musk’s announcement outweighs the prospective loss of users unfollowing liberal accounts, which SMEBased only on Twitter’s top 50 accounts losing money, estimates suggest that Twitter could be worth nearly $2,000,000 per quarter.
The top 50 liberal accounts lost most followers Tuesday, 22,453, which is a loss of approximately $146,000 per quarter for Twitter.
$6.50. That’s how much each Twitter user is worth to the company in ad revenue per quarter, according to the platform’s financial filing from the fourth quarter of 2021. Twitter reported that the average daily user on Twitter was 217 million. It also made $1.41 trillion from ads during this period. Ads make up the vast majority—around 90%—of Twitter’s overall revenue and the total revenue per user will be slightly higher.
Musk offered to purchase Twitter for $44 Billion. The company’s board has accepted the offer and it will now be presented to shareholders for a vote. However, the deal has not been closed and either party can withdraw, with a $1 billion termination fee. The deal could be stopped by regulators, although this seems unlikely due to Twitter’s refusal to join a competitor.
Since news of Musk’s acquisition broke on Monday, there have been reports of liberal users leaving Twitter in droves. NBC initially reported a mass exodus from top liberal celebrities and accounts. However, Social Blade data showed that the numbers were considerably higher than Social Blade data. This included approximately 300,000 for Obama (ex-President) and 200,000 respectively for Katy Perry (so, roughly $1.3million a quarter in ad sales). Concerns over Musk’s approach to censorship on Twitter and his self-proclaimed absolutist views on free speech purportedly motivated the exodus. These could also potentially explain the uptick in followers for conservative figures on Twitter reported gaining followers, many of whom have previously slammed the platform for perceived bias and censorship and praised Musk’s criticism apparent commitment to protecting “free speech.”
What We Don’t Know
What is driving this shift in followers? Although the composition of followers of leading conservative and liberal accounts has changed, it may not be due to a shift of liberal or conservative users. Other factors might also have contributed to the change. The deal is not closed yet as it does not appear that any policy or managerial changes have been made. Twitter claimed it hasn’t taken substantial action against spam accounts which might explain this change. Data from app analytics firm Sensor Tower indicates a broader interest in social media apps that are popular among the political right, however, with former President Donald Trump’s Truth Social jumping to the top spot on Apple’s App Store on Tuesday.
Here’s What to Watch
Twitter’s demographic change continues. This story does not include changes in number of followers to top conservative and liberal accounts since announcement. They have remained this way throughout the week.
The Verge: What Elon Musk employees have to say about Twitter
Twitter says mass deactivations after Musk news were ‘organic’ (NBC News)
Data shows that conservative Twitter accounts saw an increase in followings after Musk’s acquisition (The Verge).
Elon Musk’s $44 Billion Twitter Deal: What Actually Happens Next? (SME)