Elon Musk made ‘huge mistake’ with Twitter Blue marketing

Mark Cuban is riled up about Twitter’s new subscription protocol.

The billionaire investor and owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks recently took to Twitter to air his grievances and present ideas, after the platform removed blue checkmarks from countless previously verified accounts.

Cuban wrote that Twitter CEO Elon Musk botched a marketing opportunity, and could have gotten more users to pay for Twitter Blue’s $8 monthly subscription if he’d offered more incentives. “There were 100 ways [Musk] could have asked legacy checks for $100,” Cuban wrote. “Egalitarianism was the worst of them all.”

When rolling out the subscription service, Musk removed blue checkmarks from previously verified users, and made them available to anyone willing to pay. By doing so, he dampened their value, Cuban suggested: Verification is now less exclusive, credible and, in turn, less desirable.

Cuban says he’s currently paying for a Twitter Blue subscription as an experiment, after his follower count and reach “declined considerably over the past few months.”

“I thought maybe by paying the annual contract, that would change,” Cuban tells CNBC Make It. “It didn’t.”

In March, 2.6 million people visited Twitter Blue’s sales page, according to internet traffic analyst Similarweb. Just 116,000 of them, less than 5% of that traffic, actually purchased a subscription that month, Bloomberg reported.

Twitter didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

In another recent tweet, Cuban wrote that Twitter’s new “approach to legacy checks is a huge mistake.” He offered a few solutions, which he posed as smarter ways to make money selling the blue checkmarks. For $100 per year, he wrote:

  • A Twitter artificial intelligence system could monitor impostor celebrity accounts for you
  • Twitter could promote $10,000 worth of tweets from a nonprofit of your choice
  • Your tweets could have unlimited characters

Cuban’s $100 figure is roughly equivalent to the $96 that Twitter Blue users would pay in a year.

Twitter rose to prominence as a place where anyone could interact with anyone, and verified sources could keep people updated in real-time. Musk’s implementation of Twitter Blue could make both elements harder for many users, particularly when they’re no longer sure who they’re actually speaking with.

But despite acknowledging Twitter’s shortcomings, Cuban isn’t retreating from the platform. In another recent tweet, he called Twitter “unique and right now irreplaceable,” and expressed hope that the social media giant could reclaim its former power and popularity.

“Twitter still is the best game in town for so many different types of communications,” Cuban wrote. “If you look at Twitter on a 20 [year] horizon, the past [six months] are just the preseason and it’s not hard to recapture what was.”

This story has been updated to reflect Mark Cuban’s comments on his own Twitter Blue subscription.

Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to “Shark Tank,” which features Mark Cuban as a panelist.

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