X Releases Articles, a Long-Form Publishing Feature

Lily Polanco Follow Mar 08, 2024 · 3 mins read
X Releases Articles, a Long-Form Publishing Feature
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In the latest move to transform X (formerly Twitter) into a more comprehensive publishing platform, the company has launched a new long-form post format called “Articles” aimed at writers and creators. The new feature, currently limited to Premium+ subscribers and verified organizations, allows users to publish extended articles with rich formatting, embedded media, and customization options akin to blogging platforms like WordPress or Medium.

The introduction of Articles represents a direct competitive swing at newsletter upstart Substack, which has carved out a lucrative niche enabling independent writers, journalists, and thought leaders to run their own subscription-based publishing outlets. By providing a native long-form canvas within X itself, the company is clearly seeking to convince some writers that they no longer need a separate outpost like Substack.

“This will allow users to post very long, complex articles with mixed media. You could publish a book if you want,” Elon Musk teased about the capability last year, highlighting X’s authorial ambitions with the feature. True to his word, Articles supports posts up to 100,000 characters - roughly 200 pages - with options for embedded videos, images, other X posts, bulleted lists, and hyperlinked text.

While X already allowed long-form posts previously, capped at 25,000 characters for Premium+ users, Articles takes it a step further with enhanced rich media and formatting controls tailored for extensive writing projects. The substantial 100k character limit opens the door for writers to publish anthology collections, e-books, longform journalism pieces, and more - all hosted natively on X’s owned and operated platform.

For writers already cultivating paying subscriber audiences on Substack or other newsletter platforms, the lure of X’s over 300 million active users could prove tempting. Why have your work siloed on just one platform when it could potentially be exposed to X’s massive existing userbase? Of course, the downside is that X’s content moderation decisions and policies have frequently sparked controversy - something independent publishers may wish to avoid.

At the same time, X does provide built-in monetization levers through paid subscriptions that writers on Substack and other newsletter services already leverage. The company’s goal appears to be consolidating the entire writerly workflow onto its own platform - from the actual composition and media accesslike mentions and hashtags. A novel trackingTweet embeds tool even allows writers to ensure X posts dynamically update if the original composer edits them later.

It’s still very early days, but the Articles gambit shows X is increasingly treating itself as more than just a social media feed - it wants to be a fully-fledged publishing hub for the C writer economy. While Substack has carved out an influential niche, the behemoth resources and reach of X/Twitter means it could quickly make the newcomer’s offering redundant if it executes well.

Of course, much will depend on whether top writers truly want to hitch their outbound distribution to X’s ebb, flow and swerving strategies under Elon Musk’s mercurial ownership. The same reasons independence on Substack is appealing could give some writers pause about going all-in on X’s new inhouse publishing tools. But for those seeking maximum reach and discoverability, riding X’s gravity could be irresistible.

Substack’s founders likely aren’t losing too much sleep just yet. But now that writing itself is being positioned as a flagship use cfor X, the pressure is on for the startup to continue rapidly evolving its own offering to stay ahead of the ever-disruptive biggest player in social. The great unbundling of media may be facing a rebundling counterforce.

Written by Lily Polanco Follow
Junior News Writer @ new.blicio.us.