UK: One year on, how has Elon Musk’s ownership of Twitter/X affected its public image?
October 27th, 2023, Christien Pheby

UK: One year on, how has Elon Musk’s ownership of Twitter/X affected its public image?

A year ago today, Elon Musk bought Twitter. Since then, the company has introduced sweeping changes to its verification system, instituted mass layoffs, rebranded to X, and unbanned controversial figures such as Donald Trump and Jordan Peterson.

But what impact has his tenure so far had on the brand's public image?

Data from YouGov BrandIndex UK shows that Musk’s ownership of Twitter/X has seen the company’s Index scores – a measure of overall brand health – tumble from 2.7 on October 27, 2022 (the day of the acquisition) to -10.7 as of October 26, 2023. This amounts to a decline of -13.4 points overall. Impression scores, which track general sentiment towards a brand, have also plummeted from an already negative -1.9 to -17.6 (-15.7).

But Musk’s time in charge of the platform has also seen perceptions of Tesla decline. 

The mercurial CEO’s tweets got him into trouble with the automaker’s investors and the US Securities and Exchange Commission before he ever purchased the platform – and since he purchased Twitter/X, Tesla’s Index scores have fallen from 3.7 to -2.4 (a decline of 6.1 points) as of our most recent data. Impression scores have declined from a solidly positive 7.4 to -3.9 (-11.3).

Musk, for his part, has blamed the economy for Tesla’s commercial struggles on a recent earnings call.

Elon Musk’s rebranding of Twitter to X is deeply unpopular

YouGov polling from July showed that two-thirds of Twitter users (67%) had an adverse reaction to Elon Musk’s decision to rebrand the social media company to “X”.

A few months later, the decision hasn’t grown on Britons. We asked users which name they preferred; 88% said they favoured Twitter – and 81% said they would change the name back from X.

Musk’s plans for subscription fees, payments, and "everything apps" also unpopular

Some of Musk’s high-profile plans for the company are also largely unpopular with the wider public. Looking at the mooted plan to introduce subscription fees to Twitter/X, nine in ten users polled in late September would be unwilling to pay anything to post (91%) or view posts (90%) on the platform.

And while Musk recently said that he wants the social media company to be the centre of “financial life”, offering payments and more, just 4% of Britons say they would be more likely to use Twitter/X if it provided financial services – while 26% say they would be less likely and 60% say it would make no difference either way.

His broader vision for the company includes turning Twitter/X into a WeChat style “everything app”. But a survey from earlier this summer reveals that three in five (60%) Britons say they aren’t interested in the idea.

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YouGov BrandIndex collects data on thousands of brands every day. Figures are based on a 4-week moving average. Learn more about BrandIndex.

YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. Data figures have been weighted by age, gender, education, and social grade to be representative of all adults in Great Britain (18 years or older), and reflect the latest ONS population estimates. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.