Twitter Twits

When Twitter recently announced the ability to place all of your followers into lists I thought that they had struck a goldmine for future revenue streams and everything pointed towards a business model that made perfect sense – to me.

Then today it all went pear shaped as Biz Stone (Co-founder) announced a ‘non traditional’ way they will allow advertising on Twitter without telling us what it is – a great way to get spin going, especially when you are as popular as Twitter!

In my opinion Biz Stone and Twitter have just showed how dumb people can be when it comes to monetizing popular free programs. What did MySpace do? Sell advertising. What did Facebook do? Sell advertising. What is Twitter going to do? Sell advertising – albeit wrapped in a ‘non traditional’ catchphrase. The crux of all of this is that no-one has any idea how to make money out of free software that is popular and when you have no ideas, you turn to 3rd party advertisers.

Biz, I am sure advertising will bring in some revenue, but you have missed a golden opportunity here to take a different approach, it is a crazy idea, but people might actually be prepared to pay for software that makes their lives better. Here is the model I would have approached.

Premium Accounts

I know a premium account is just a stupid name for making more money than a normal account. Usually companies (think realestate.com.au and domain.com.au) create a popular site and then cut the throat of their core by making them look less important than premium companies. In real estate it is a joke, but with Twitter it would be different as it makes sense on top of a free model. Myhome.com.au do it with premium style listings on top of basic free listings. I don’t mind this approach as long as the user (the person looking for properties) is not getting search results compromised.

Basic
With Twitter nothing changes, you get all of the same features as you currently do, you are treated the same and all new updates are afforded to you. In other words – in other words we still love you and we understand without you – we could not operate successfully!

Premium – Multiple Accounts
You can create multiple accounts all under the one account. As an example. I have Agentpoint, Business2, Ginga and Zooproperty.com. Currently I have 4 Twitter accounts to manage. So I can now have a master account and merge others accounts under this one account – nothing changes for my followers.

When a user wants to follow me they can select what account(s) to follow or ‘follow all’. My default account is my master account – so if they do not choose any accounts, it then defaults to my master account.

Nothing changes when I Tweet as I have separate accounts to Tweet under and no-one gets annoyed.

Premium – Customise Theme
My “Twemium” account allows us to customise our Twitter theme some more. Better sidebar control, better backgrounds etc. All of my accounts now become a part of a left sidebar and can be click-able. I can also customise my background with a few extra features.

Fees

So what would a user pay as a premium price for these features? I would say $55 USD per annum is a fair price that most can afford for what essentially is a great service. Not everyone would need to upgrade and there is no penalty for not upgrading.

Revenue

Let’s say 20% of users upgrade to premium. Current estimates put twitter at about 5 million active users. So that would bring in around $55 million per annum. I would consider this a good return on what is essentially a 100 person company. How many companies could boast $550,00 in revenue per employee? This could easily grow to 100 million per annum.

If they get selfish and stupid they will fail. Twitter is no flash in the pan, but it we may get a little bored with it and if we are not careful only business will be interested and that will kill the platform.

Biz Stone tells us he is in no rush, well, he is in no rush to fail and everything they were doing up until now made sense. If advertiser revenue is their only idea with this software then they seriously need to take more time before making announcements.

Biz Stone, Domain.com.au, myhome.com.au, MySpace, Realestate.com.au, Twitter

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About Peter J Ricci

Peter Ricci is the Director of Agentpoint.com.au, Business2.com.au, Ginga.com.au and ZooProperty.com and has been involved in designing and developing real estate systems and websites since 1997. In July 2001 Peter founded Business2.com.au to help real estate agents better understand the power of the Internet and the real estate landscape in Australia and New Zealand. Since then he has penned over 300 articles on a variety of subjects in the real estate technology industry. Business2.com.au is now the leading real estate technology site in Australasia.

9 Responses to Twitter Twits

  1. Nick November 27, 2009 at 8:00 am #

    Another available revenue stream is selling twits in bulk to companies who want to use it for analysis.
    E.g. Bing and Google.

  2. Mac November 27, 2009 at 12:57 pm #

    ๐Ÿ™‚ You might mean ‘tweets’, Nic. Altho, selling twits sounds good to me. I usually just leave them to themselves!

    Ps Can’t see users agreeing to their tweets being on-sold (if this iswhat you mean?)

  3. dizzle November 28, 2009 at 1:43 am #

    Genius. I can’t believe you’ve come up with EXACTLY what Biz Stone said he’ll do… Can you, like, see into the past or something?

  4. Nick November 28, 2009 at 8:57 pm #

    Mac I prefer my term better. No I’m not a big fan of Twitter. :p

  5. Peter Ricci November 29, 2009 at 12:34 am #

    I meant Twits, a Twit is sort of like a bit of a playful term for an idiot. Dizzle, can you please direct me to a comment made by Biz Stone in relation to what I have proposed and I am sure others have also – as it is a normal approach?

  6. scott November 30, 2009 at 8:52 am #

    Peter, I think you have missed a VERY important part of this whole proposal from Twitter.
    Advertising models are being discussed, but the Premium account option being looked at is for the JAPANESE twitter portal, where advertising already exists.

    Premium accounts are on the Wish list for twitter, but it is highly unlikely they will be able to implement them in markets other than Japan.

  7. Peter Ricci November 30, 2009 at 9:42 am #

    Hi Scott

    How can what Japan gets be an important part of what Twitter are doing?

  8. scott November 30, 2009 at 11:44 am #

    Peter,

    I am not sure what you are asking me.
    Can you clarify please?

  9. Peter Ricci November 30, 2009 at 11:49 am #

    Peter, I think you have missed a VERY important part of this whole proposal from Twitter.

    ………..interesting segway into……

    Advertising models are being discussed, but the Premium account option being looked at is for the JAPANESE twitter portal, where advertising already exists.

    ……so?

    Premium accounts are on the Wish list for twitter, but it is highly unlikely they will be able to implement them in markets other than Japan.

    …..poo!

    So, basically the VERY important thing is that we get nothing and the Japanese get the works?

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