Earlier this week, Tucker Carlson posted a video on Twitter announcing that he was coming back and bringing his show to Twitter.
The initial reactions talked about what does this mean for advertisers, Twitter, and Tucker.
I didn’t see much analysis from a strategic standpoint.
Which got me to the question: “How likely is this partnership to work for either Twitter or Tucker Carlson?”
Let’s look at this through the lens of the Power Framework.
The Power Framework, created by Dr. Kamal Munir, at the Judge School of Business at Cambridge talks about a strategy being good by how much power it gives to the organization formulating the strategy.
How do you rate power?
- Vs. Competition
- Vs Suppliers
- Vs. Customers
Using this lens, what does the Tucker Carlson/Twitter mashup really do from a strategic point of view?
Since Elon Musk took over Twitter, we’ve seen a lot of people really rethink their relationship to the platform and in some cases to social media in general.
Twitter was always a smaller platform for social media use, but one that carried a higher cache since there were many active journalists, leaders, artists, and influential people that would regularly post tweets with updates, ideas, and engagement with the world.
That stature has declined as a recent survey pointed out that Twitter’s usage was down over 9% since Elon Musk closed his deal for the company in late-2022.
Facebook has seen usage of their site, app, and platform decline recently as well. With the number of Facebook users declining around 15M since 2017.
Rising social media platforms like TikTok are dealing with their own issues.
But where does the partnership between Tucker Carlson and Twitter leave them against the competition, I don’t think it really puts Twitter or Tucker Carlson in a stronger position against the competition because it is unlikely that the combination will change anyone’s behavior enough to really move the needle against any of the other social media platforms.
In this case, I’m going to look at the suppliers as advertisers, partners, and other folks that give Twitter and Tucker Carlson money.
Honestly, I can’t see any way that this partnership helps either person at all.
Tucker Carlson had a small audience on cable news. He averaged 3M viewers at the end of his time on FOX News.
That’s the highest rated cable show, sure.
That’s approximately the same as a new episode of New Amsterdam, but less than half the size of the latest new episode of Young Sheldon.
It isn’t just the size of his audience that matters, but the fact that major advertisers were dropping his show pretty consistently over the last several years.
This is a problem because it is the same challenge that Elon Musk has been facing with Twitter where trust in the platform has consistently gone downsince he completed his takeover of the platform.
For an additional level of fun, you can add the decline in the customer experience to these challenges as well.
All of this adds up to the partnership not adding any strength for Tucker Carlson or Twitter when it comes to winning back major advertisers and people that are willing to spend money to support Twitter or Tucker Carlson’s show.
User trust has declined.
The UX has gotten worse.
Elon Musk’s personal behavior has pushed people away.
The buzz or “heat” of a business can be a fickle thing, especially when the entire operation is built off the personality of one man.
As Tesla is learning right now as they struggle to compete in a much more competitive electric vehicle market while having their brand shed loyalty and brand equity due to the too close association with Elon Musk.
This means that people are turning their back on Twitter before Tucker Carlson decided to bring his show to Twitter.
Does combining forces help turn the tide?
There are a few things pointing in this direction.
One, it is unlikely that this partnership will draw new users to Twitter. We’d have to see a Venn Diagram of FOX News Tucker Carlson viewers with Twitter accounts to see how big the audience is, but with a platform like Twitter, even if all 3 million viewers opened Twitter accounts now because they didn’t have one before: that’s not going to move the needle very much.
Two, video and shows on Twitter don’t move the needle that much.
Professor Mark Ritson did a presentation about what counts as a digital impression at a conference once and what you could get away with calling an “impression” was laughable.
Once I asked someone that studies ad fraud how easy it was to gain the system of impressions and he told me that you can generate 100M impressions for about $1000 if you wanted to do it yourself.
As Keith Olbermann pointed out on his podcast earlier in the week, the 3M viewers on FOX would be like 90M if you counted ratings the same way on TV that you do on Twitter.
I don’t see this being a win that sets Twitter and Tucker Carlson up for some huge winning streak by attracting loads of new customers to the platform either.
In watching Elon Musk’s actions at Twitter and Tesla, I’ve watched a man that seems to have very little ability to think strategically.
In looking at the potential of a long-term Twitter and Tucker Carlson marriage, I see an idea that isn’t well thought through and doesn’t provide any form of increased strength for the combined partners.
From Twitter’s POV, the most important step that Elon Musk could take right now is to set up some sort of strategy, period.
- What’s the vision?
- Who’s the customer?
- Why are they going to use Twitter going forward over the alternatives?
For Tucker Carlson, he seems to be overestimating his popularity versus the popularity of the platform.
We’ve seen this over and over again with journalists, performers, etc. leaving somewhere for a new venture only to never be heard from again.
Together, two wrongs don’t make a right.
This is a strategy that isn’t likely to go places.
What do you think?