— 15 January 2008 —

Monetizing Twitter

General note: I started writing this solely based on a post in my feeds this morning. I don’t spend much time thinking how Twitter could make money, and having now looked at a number of other posts on the topic I realise there are quite a number of people (besides those who work at Twitter) who think a lot about this.

I think the application (both in terms of system and use) of Twitter is its strength. I’d never rely upon it as a single channel, but within it, being successful is relatively easy. It can be what you want it to be. As such there are as many ideas to make it profitable as there are to use it. Below you’ll find my thoughts on this topic. You likely have thought of these ideas before. So have the fine folks at Twitter. Perhaps a better title for this post is, “Reasons for which I’d give Twitter money.” I may use that.

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Yesterday I saw some part of a conversation about how Twitter could be, should be, can’t be monetized. I say “part of a conversation” because I don’t follow all of the people that were involved. In fact, I am sure there were multiple conversations yesterday on Twitter and off Twitter about how to monetize it.

I gotta tell ya… If I were running Twitter, in a lot of ways I wouldn’t care about monetizing it. I’d want to do it solely for the sake of doing something cool for the webified world. But money’s got to be made, right? The most recent post I read was by Mayank on the Weblog Guild: The Problem of Monetizing Twitter. All good ideas of course and inline with some of my thoughts yesterday following said Twitter versations.

However, I don’t think using Google Ads (specifically) is a good idea. I don’t think Facebook is a good model to follow (specifically). I think the best idea I’ve seen is a “Pro” version, much inline with how Flickr runs things.

Reasons for Which I’d Give Twitter Money

I like Flickr. I like Twitter. I feel like I get value, though in different ways, from both sites. And I have no issues whatsoever paying for Flickr. So what would it take for me to pay for Twitter?

Stability would be nice. Being free right now, I don’t really care so much when Twitter goes down because, at least for the past few months, Twitter has spent more time up than down. Except apparently today, the day I choose to make the previous statement about stability.

All avenues to and from Twitter need to work. I want IM, SMS, Web, and 3rd Party methods to work. I don’t bother with IM because it rarely works. SMS never seems to work. I know it works for many people, but even though my phone is “synced” to Twitter, no dice.

No ads. Like Flickr, I don’t want to see anything but Twitter-related ads on my UI anywhere. Yep, I am willing to pay for that. I had a day where my Flickr subscription lapsed and my god it was full of ads. okay it wasn’t all that bad, but along with the other “pro” perks, I likes not seein’ ads.

Exporting my data. In fact, exporting all my data, including “With Friends,” so I can, um, take up scrapbooking and make my conversations all pretty like. Seriously though, I want to be able to back up my Twitter versations like I back up my email. Speaking of which, I really need to back up my email.

Search. I mean… c’mon.

The ability to post updates to a select audience. Okay, you might think this is odd. The last couple of conferences I went to, I took notes via Twitter. Each update went to everyone. All 291 followers (half of whom are likely real people). I’d like for people to be able to opt-in to my updates for the day without having to create a new account or forever losing the ones that don’t opt-in. There’s multiple design solutions for this one, but I guess what I am asking for is the ability to create groups on the fly.

What Else Could Twitter Do?

I don’t think this is realistic, but it’s what I hope for. And dammit that’s gotta count for something… I wish people who were grabbing the Twitter API and doing who knows what it my data could enter into an agreement with Twitter where the company could acquire the application once it reached a certain stage of stability, then integrate it into Twitter’s offerings.

And they could obviously also sell t-shirts, stickers, buttons, adspace, blimpspace, and tattoos on company employees advertising your business. In the end, I hope they go the “pro” account route.

As has been said before by many, people are willing to pay for the things they find of value. At what point does it become worth investing for you?

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