How to Get to 1 Billion Users By WeChat-Ifying Twitter

Elon Musk’s townhall with Twitter employees didn’t just cover the usual aliens, layoffs, and company politics that would have been expected. Much like his goal to populate Mars, Elon Musk’s future vision for Twitter is ambitious. 

Twitter today has 230 million users, Musk’s goal is to get to 1 billion – a big feat when you think of Twitter’s applicability today as a microblogging software. Niche, requires a lot of maintenance, and limited features, which doesn’t retain a lot of users. 

Making Payment Possible

Social media equals buying. Twitter can easily 10x its revenue over the next few years, driving immense shareholder value, if it can crack going from social media app to social super app. 

If we look at WeChat’s success as a billion-user social messaging app, it is because it went from social network to social living – you can live your life on WeChat. But before it became what it is today, WeChat went through the transition from typical social app (think: moments, messaging) and moved into the WeChat pay space. How can Twitter tap into that? 

Jack Dorsey is CEO of Block and also friendly with Elon Musk – put those two together to have Twitter powered by Block, and we see that same trajectory for Twitter. Tada, social media meets buying. Soon, you might be able to pay at the gas pump and then simultaneously Tweet your complaints. 

Creating an Ecosystem of Stickiness

Pre-Musk Twitter’s core shortcoming was that it hadn’t invested into any sticky functionalities – influencer network, affiliate program, long-format, chat function, to name a few.

“Advertisers look at the stickiness of a platform and size of user base to determine the value and investment,” says Yukun Bi, Hylink Digital US Executive Planning Director. In the case of WeChat, the app has found tremendous success because of its chat function. Twitter started out (and continues to be) primarily concerned with public tweeting. 

Knowing Elon Musk’s advocacy for free speech and potential partner Jack Dorsey’s point of view, Twitter could easily build out a secure, adless messenger function to fill the void that Facebook and WhatsApp have left and begin developing an ecosystem of stickiness. You don’t really use Twitter every 5 minutes, the average users spend 3.39 minutes per session – a better optimized messenger function would change that.

How Do You Get to “Social SuperApp”

With a TwitterPay function, Twitter moves from social media to social commerce. With a secure chat function, one of Twitter’s core functionalities becomes sticky. How does Twitter get to be a social living app at the same level as WeChat? The answer is in WeChat’s Mini Programs, an app within an app that allows you to live natively with your favorite brand, purchase items, schedule a meeting with your doctor, and more. This WeChat feature accounts for 25-40% of e-commerce brands’ transactions depending on the industry, totalling USD $250 billion in revenue.

And what better inaugural Mini Program to launch than Tesla? 

What’s the incentive for brands to join? Besides following Tesla’s example, Mini Programs are inexpensive to launch because they are app-less, with costs equivalent to developing a mobile web page, and provide brands with access to Twitter’s user base. 

Upgrade its Self-Serve Advertising Functions

Twitter’s advertising functions are archaic and the self-serve capabilities are lackluster. Interest tags are limited because of the lack of stickiness, the ability to onboard custom audiences is non-existent, and Twitter’s advertising sales structure is very direct sales – agency-to-agency, region-to-region, country-to-country, brand-to-brand. If they could open this up to make Twitter a self-serve marketplace where brands and agencies could buy, very much like what TikTok is doing right now, then Twitter would be positioning to not only acquire a billion users, but acquire billions of users online and become profitable. 

Elon Musk is no stranger to looking at China for the next unicorn or working with the country to innovate. If Musk sticks to this vision, Twitter could foreseeably become the first app outside of China to crack putting your entire life into one app.