A Twitter ‘paywall’ could be a surprising setback for the sector

Alistair Hardaker

A monthly fee could dampen the sector’s ability to network, campaign, and solve customer queries without a serious alternative.

The news that X – formerly Twitter – could soon introduce a monthly fee will come as little surprise to those following headlines about Elon Musk.

The BBC reports that during a conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Musk said: “We’re moving to having a small monthly payment for use of the system”.

It would be the latest in a series of changes made to the platform by the billionaire, who acquired the social media platform last year.

Whether the move makes good business sense is secondary to its impact on a sector which is embedded within and benefitting from the platform, but could find it difficult to justify the cost.

Fair Museum Jobs is among the platform’s more popular users in the sector. Its @Fair_jobs account campaigns for better pay and transparent recruitment in the sector to its more than 17,000 followers.

A representative told Advisor: “A paywall would likely completely destroy our ability to campaign effectively.”

The sector’s move away from the platform, for which Advisor created a guide last year, is yet to manifest.


The representative added: “There’s no other particular platform that GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums) organisations have congregated to, so it’s not clear what we would do, given – for us – being where people are is a priority

“We aren’t willing to pay, but more than that we literally can’t. We don’t have a bank account as we’re not set up as that kind of organisation.

“We have our website separately and that will continue to exist for information provision, but the campaigning aspect would be very damaged.”

While the fee has not been confirmed, its potential implementation raises concerns about the financial strain it may impose on institutions already struggling.

A prohibitively expensive monthly cost could lead to the reduced accessibility of cultural content for visitors, and reduce the online networking from which the sector benefits.

The Arts Marketing Association is a membership organisation for those working in the arts, culture and heritage sector.

Claire Jones, its Head of Marketing told Advisor: “
For museums and heritage organisations, it’s another fee to pay at a time when rising costs are being felt across the board – both from running costs and the impact on audiences who are cutting back on cultural trips.”

“A lot of our members use X as a customer service tool while committing more of their content to other social platforms. If they were to leave X, the impact on visitor communications could be high in the short-term.”

Jones said the organisation’s own output on the platform to its more than 14,000 followers has already seen a downturn.

“Twitter/X is our biggest social media platform in terms of followers. We’re not alone in seeing a drop in organic engagement over the last year.”

That downturn is yet to result in a serious competitor emerging elsewhere on the web.

Alternatives, such as Threads and Mastodon ”have tried to successfully replicate Twitter/X and haven’t quite achieved enough prominence to tempt people to leave permanently,” said Jones.

“For cultural marketers, this could be down to social media saturation or just the understandable dread that a lot of arts marketers have about having yet another platform to juggle.

Jones’ shared advice for organisations hoping to stay in touch with visitors, but unable to justify another cost.

“In terms of engaging their digital audience, there may be more to be gained by nurturing a smaller network of super engaged followers on an alternative platform where organic reach is easier to achieve.”

The Museums + Heritage Show 2024 will have an area dedicated to in-person meetings with a wide-range of sector support organisations. Visit the Museums + Heritage Show website to stay up-to-date with details of next year’s event.