Social MediaTechnology

Are You Ready to Spill It? Here Are 7 Things to Know

  • What does “spill the tea” mean?
  • How can you become a Spillonaire?
  • Is “Live Spilling” in your future?

If success is indeed the best revenge, Alphonzo Terrell will be joining the late tech luminary, Steve Jobs, in getting the last laugh at an employer who made a big mistake in firing him. Like Jobs, whose Apple board terminated him in 1985, and then begged him to return later, Terrell was fired at Twitter when Elon Musk decided he didn’t need all those damn people, walking around drinking expensive lattes.

This led Terrell to do what many dismissed employees think about, but seldom do – start a competitive company. While it’s too soon to tell (yet), his new social platform named “Spill” is on the list of “what’s hot” at the beginning of 2024. Since the Twitter bird has fallen, is Terrell crazy to jump into the fray? Or is he crazy like a fox?


What This Means for You — Many marginalized communities, especially Black women and those who are LGBTQ, index higher for social media usage. Media experts say these groups are also culture drivers and, unfortunately, receive a higher level of harassment than other users. Spill has been designed to appeal to these groups, and brands who target them should pay special attention to this post.


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The Inclusivity App Is Launched


This lesson in business hubris predictably began with a change in ownership of the social platform, then known as Twitter and now called X. According to news sources, including CNN, “Terrell – who’d spent three years heading the platform’s social and editorial teams – was among the roughly 3,700 employees let go from the company on November 4, 2022, just a week after Elon Musk closed his $44 billion Twitter acquisition. That day, he tweeted it was ‘time to build something new,’ and then got on the phone with friend and former colleague DeVaris Brown.”

Terrell, who is also known as ‘Phonz’ online, was quoted as saying, “If we do this together, I think this can be really successful.’”

“Within hours, Terrell and Brown had laid out plans to launch a new app capitalizing on their experience building communities online and thwarting some of the typical problems known to plague legacy social media platforms. They wanted it to be everything most social media struggle to be – positive, safe, and inclusive. They named it Spill, a nod to the phrase “spill the tea,” which refers to sharing gossip or information.”

What Is Spill?


In an industry that is prone to hyperbole, it is safe to say that social media has not seen the likes of Spill before. The founders and operational team are focusing on different priorities. In early news reports, the platform highlights the objectives of creating a safe, rewarding and financially successful platform for Black, LGBTQ+ and other historically marginalized users. As one of the managers of the highly successful “Black Twitter,” Phonz and his band of “Spillonaires” have a unique perspective on this process.

He notes these users often play an outsized role in driving online culture but are more likely to face harassment, like threats of violence or attacks on their identity, or to have others profit from their ideas. CNN notes, “Spill is open to anyone, but by focusing on serving communities typically marginalized online, including with new content moderation and creator payment strategies, the experience on the platform will be better for all its users.

“Such a platform is even more important, Spill’s leadership believes, in the wake of Musk’s takeover at Twitter. Under the billionaire’s leadership, policy updates, changes to content moderation practices and controversial statements from Musk himself have led to a reported rise in hate speech on the platform and left many users searching for alternatives. Terrell wants to create a home for those users on Spill.”

What It’s Not


Tech observers love to use shorthand to describe something new. This “elevator pitch” may not work for Spill. First off, it’s not Black Twitter 2.0. Nor is it the “me too” social sites that sprouted up when Musk first began deconstructing his $44 billion dollar investment.

CNN notes, “Spill is also working to set itself apart from competitor platforms that also emerged in the wake of Musk’s Twitter takeover, including Mastodon, Bluesky and Threads. What’s more, Spill is staying focused on a targeted audience at a time when many larger platforms are increasingly focused on trying to provide something for anyone.”

How Brands and Agencies Can Better Spill the Tea


Spill is using an advertising business model for revenue, and this suggests several considerations for brands who target Black, Hispanic, LGBTQ and other minority groups. Here are seven:

  • Be real.

    This may seem obvious, but these groups are known to have highly tuned BS detectors and any ham-handed creative will likely be rejected by the site or (even worse), disparaged by the members. Any paid advertising, brand focused social posts and any other messaging must be culturally sensitive and authentic. Extensive research of images and choosing those that are appropriate, will be critical for Spill. Stock photos and video from services such as SuperStock can economically enhance this process.

  • Focus on culture drivers.

    As the founders of Spill have said, “Our core thesis with Spill was to focus on the culture drivers — Black women, the queer community, other similar communities around the world that are often setting the tone, the trends, the lexicon, all the amazing magic that will happen on social platforms, but getting the lion’s share of hate, abuse [and] not getting credited or rewarded the way they should for their contributions.”

  • Use it as a “meme machine.”

    According to background information on the Spill site, the feed features posts with large, block text, often superimposed over images or GIFs; on certain posts, users can swipe through to view a series of images. At the top of users’ feeds is the “Spillboard,” which highlights trending posts and is meant to help elevate creators on the app. Spill takes design inspiration from its name, too. A teacup has replaced the heart as the platform’s “like” button, and users can choose from a range of different colorways for the app, aptly named things like “green tea” and “hibiscus.”

  • Realize AI is involved.

    Understanding the benefits and limitations of artificial intelligence (AI) will pay big dividends for brands and their social media teams using the platform. It has been noted that “Among its efforts to improve the experience for users, the company is completely rethinking content moderation. Spill has a team of human moderators, and it’s also working on developing a new large language AI content moderation model to help monitor its systems, written by members of Black, LGBTQ+ and other historically marginalized communities.

  • Rewarding creators.

    The platform is also working on a system to better track and reward users who create viral trends or memes. A news report says, “The move is an effort to rectify the ongoing phenomenon elsewhere online where creators of popular content — often Black women — don’t get credit for their ideas while bigger, more popular creators profit from them.”

  • It’s different from Threads.

    According to Time magazine, “Spill differs from Threads in that it is much more gif and photo forward, and allows for monetization of viral posts. That means that Spill users can earn money for a viral post. Spill’s designers are also ensuring that creators get credit for their posts and are using blockchain technology to track what users post.” This emphasis on “photo forward” is another excellent reason to source images from stock photo companies such as SuperStock.

  • Take advantage of promotional opportunities.

    The platform is all about inclusiveness and having fun, and with a little creativity, brands can play along. A good example of this is a community tradition known as “Live Spilling,” This is a weekly movie viewing where users agree to watch the same film at the same time and post their reactions. This type of real-time promotion could be used by sports and entertainment brands.

Spilling Over


Not everyone can hop on Spill and wax eloquently, at least for a while. In its early launch stage, it currently requires users to join a waitlist before being allowed on the app. This gives it some control over its user base. However, the platform will eventually be open to anyone, which could allow the ne’er-do-wells and potential bad actors to evade this digital space.

The waitlist ensures Spill’s technical infrastructure can support its user base. A certain number of users are allowed on the app from the waitlist weekly, or if they are given by a friend one of three invite codes each user is granted when they join the platform. In the meantime, the overflow of positive publicity is spilling over the digital dam.



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Art Young
Experienced Writer with a demonstrated history of working in the marketing and advertising industry. Skilled in Digital Strategy, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Crisis Communications, Journalism, and Media Relations. Strong arts and design professional with a B.A. focused in Political Science from The University of Texas at Austin.

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