You don’t know me, but I am a consumer of your products. I drive one of your cars, and I am a user of your newly acquired bullhorn Twitter. For Twitter, I am both a personal user as well as an advertiser.
I am responding to the letter you sent to me yesterday in my capacity as an advertiser. I was surprised to see that I agreed with much of what you said. Like when you stated that Twitter should not evolve into a “hellscape.” And that “advertising, when done right, can delight, entertain and inform you.”. And that Twitter, ultimately, “aspires to be the most respected advertising platform in the world that strengthens your brand and grows your enterprise.”
There are some serious ambitions in your letter -- ambitions that I, as an advertiser and as a user, wholeheartedly support. But let’s not mince words. The way you fulfill these ambitions will be judged by a few criteria that will be seen by the world.
Number one: Twitter’s leadership. A world-class advertising medium that will do the things you say good advertising can do, must have leadership in place that knows how to create the circumstances and context for that to happen. That means that toxic, unruly or otherwise revolting content must be managed and, as much as possible, eradicated. You should aim for the “kills 99.9% of harmful bacteria” claim that some kitchen cleaners advertise. Anything less won’t cut it.
Number two: brand impact. You rightfully point out that clicks ain’t it (speaking against “the relentless pursuit of clicks”). They ain’t it for advertisers for sure, although some of us still haven’t fully understood that.
It seems that some of Twitter’s (potential) users, however, very much think it might be “it” to pursue clicks, the more controversial, the better. I mean ,the lengths some will go to in that pursuit is frankly laughable. I recall a guy walking into a $44 billion office building with a sink. Or launching a $60,000 car into space with a dummy sitting in it. Click-bait much?
Controversial, hateful, divisive, trolling-- none of that makes for a great advertising environment (unless you sell pillows, apparently).
Brand impact cuts two ways: if you want the Twitter brand to stand for those lofty goals you articulated, it means you will need to manage and cultivate your own brand very, very carefully (both Twitter and you, yourself). Every action has consequences, including the actions from those you allow to use (abuse?) your brand. Building brands takes time. Destroying them takes far less time. A well-regarded brand will pretty much sell itself (see Tesla). A tainted brand is unsellable.
You also want your brand associated with other well-managed brands and content. It is all about the company you keep, right? If I see the kind of company I want to be seen with, I will gladly buy my way in (to your advertising platform). If it turns into a hellscape, the number of brands that will do so will be limited (to pillows?).
I hope these few suggestions make sense to you. Given your letter, I think I am preaching to the converted. This fills me with hope. But actions will speak louder than words. Good luck!