A company that makes it easy to charge for newsletters has captivated an anxious industry because it embodies larger forces and contradictions.
If you were itching to launch an email newsletter via Twitter, following its acquisition of the Dutch newsletter platform Revue last month, it appears you’ll have to wait a little bit longer for the official unveiling — although some Twitter users are reporting being able to sign up for the newsletter publishing tool right now.
The social media company confirmed to TechCrunch it’s reverted Revue’s Publisher offer back to private beta for the moment — saying this means it’s only accessible to existing customers at this time.
Nonetheless, it also appears to have quietly flipped the launch switch over the last 12 hours or so — at least for some users.
Earlier today, a number of TechCrunch staffers were able to go through the process of setting up a Twitter Revue newsletter — including our very own Editor-in-Chief, Matthew Panzarino.
At the time of writing India-based reporter, Manish Singh, also has access to the interface — which prompts Twitter users to set up a free newsletter to reach their audience, flagging features such as the ability to embed tweets, import email lists, analyze engagement and earn money from subscribers.
So it looks as if Twitter has been testing a newsletter launch in a number of markets. It’s less clear whether/if it aborted a planned launch. We’ve asked the company for more details and will update this post with any response.
Unless you’ve been on a very long digital detox you’ll have noticed that newsletters have been having quite the moment of late. The rise of platforms that help writers monetize their content via an email-delivery format presents a clear risk/opportunity to Twitter, a company that relies on an army of users freely and publicly contributing short-form content.
But with Twitter launching its own in-house newsletter, tweets can potentially inflate in value — becoming the top of the funnel for Twitter users to build a community of followers who they made be able to convert to paying subscribers for longer form content, delivered in a newsletter format.
Twitter told us today that it has put new sign-ups to Revue on ice so it can focus on improving the offering in order to effectively meet the demand of new customers — and make Revue an even more powerful tool for publishers.
It added that it’s working quickly to roll out a new version that’s open to new customers, with a spokeswoman pointing to a mailing list for interested parties to sign up to get the latest updates here.
It’s not clear exactly why Twitter might have aborted a launch — or whether it was just quietly testing sign-ups in select markets, which at least three of our writers happened to be able to access. As we reported last month, it had already been working to integrate the newsletter into its platform and is clearly moving at a clip to get Revue plugged in so it can start to capitalize on the hype and momentum around paid newsletters.
Simultaneously, preventing users from finding a home for their longer form thoughts elsewhere is also likely front of mind for Twitter — as competition for attention in the social sphere heats up, such as from the likes of (rival) newsletter platform Substack (which has been building momentum since 2017); and buzzy live-voice chat app Clubhouse (which has recently captivated the clique-loving technorati).
But it seems Twitter feels its Revue newsletters aren’t quite ready for the prime time just yet.
For those eager to know more about how ‘Twitter + Revue’ will work in practice, here’s the lowdown from our very own @refsrc — who does have early access.
The newsletter feature, available from the three-dot “More” menu option on Twitter’s web interface, enables a user to sign up for Revue with a few clicks using their social account. Once onboard, users can begin drafting their newsletter and drag their recent tweets to it — if they so choose.
The newsletter platform, which competes with among others Andreessen Horowitz-backed Substack, maintains integration support for a number of third-party services including Facebook, Instagram, Pocket, Product Hunt, Instapaper, and even RSS feeds. Once users have integrated these services, they can drag and drop stories from those feeds to the newsletter.
In the current avatar, users can manually add email addresses of subscribers, or import a list from Mailchimp or a CSV file. On the welcome screen, which noted reverse engineer Jane Manchun Wong first spotted last week, Twitter also advertises that its newsletter can help writers and publishers earn money from paid subscribers.
Like before, Revue lets users schedule their newsletters. All in all, there doesn’t appear to be any additional features in this entire workflow.
Twitter only announced its acquisition of newsletter platform Revue two days ago, but the company has already begun to integrate the product into the Twitter.com website. It appears “Newsletters” will soon be the newest addition to Twitter’s sidebar navigation, alongside Bookmarks, Moments, Twitter Ads, and other options. The company is also readying a way to promote the new product to Twitter users, promising them another way to reach their audience while getting paid for their work.
These findings and others were uncovered by noted reverse engineer Jane Manchun Wong, who dug into the Twitter.com website to see what the company may have in store for its newest acquisition.
According to a pop-up promotional message in development she found, Twitter will soon be pitching a handful of Revue benefits, like the ability to compose and schedule newsletters, embed tweets, import email lists, analyze engagement and earn money from paid followers. The messaging was clearly in early testing (it even had a typo!), but it hints at Twitter’s larger plans to tie Revue into the Twitter platform and serve as a way for prominent users to essentially monetize their reach.
Currently, the “Find Out More” button on pop-up message will redirect Twitter users to the Revue website. Wong found.
In addition, Wong noted Twitter was making “Newsletters” a new navigation option on the Twitter sidebar menu. Unfortunately, it was not shown on the top-level menu where you today find options like Explore, Notifications, Messages or Bookmarks, but rather on the sub-menu you access from the three-dot “More” link.
The tight integration between Revue and Twitter’s main platform could potentially give the company an interesting competitive advantage in the newsletters market — especially as Twitter has already dropped hints that its new audio product, Twitter Spaces, will also be used as a way to connect with newsletter subscribers.
In its announcement, Twitter referred to “new settings for writers to host conversations” with their readers. That likely means Twitter users would be able to not just publish newsletters with the new Twitter product, but also monetize their existing follower base, find new readers through Twitter’s built-in features, and then engage their fans on an ongoing basis through audio chats in Spaces. Combined with its lowering of the paid newsletter fee to 5%, many authors are rightly considering the potential Twitter advantages. If anything at all is holding them back, it’s Twitter’s less-than-stellar reputation when it comes to successfully capitalizing on some of its acquisitions.
Twitter declined to comment on Wong’s findings, but we understand these features are currently not live on the website. Wong told us she hasn’t found any indications of Revue integrations in the Twitter mobile apps just yet.
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