Money Makers on Twitter

Posted on December 4, 2008. Filed under: Marketing, Social Media, twitter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Over the past few weeks there has been much discussion of how 3rd party companies are attempting to monetize the Twitter world.
Twitter themselves have so far avoided doing this, though rumors abound about how they might decide to charge for various parts of the service.
The first two attempts to monetize Twitter have come from Magpie and Twittads. They take two different elements that a Twitter user can control and “purchase” rights to that. The two elements are the user profile page and the actual Twitter stream.


Twittads allows you to “auction” the background of your profile page off to a bidder company. They provide you with an estimate of what you are worth and then let you set the price & duration that you will show the ad. I tried the service out for seven days. I was given an estimated value of $70. So I decided to post my profile page for the bargain price of $45 and decided on a seven day duration for the ad. Now let me be upfront here, I had no expectations of someone actually paying that much to put their company information on my profile page for seven days. I wasn’t disappointed. No one bit. Had I set the price at $10 I am sure someone might have. Certainly the front page of the site shows recent successful bids, some of which run into the hundreds of dollars, of course those particular users have thousands of followers.

I see nothing intrinsically wrong with this service. You as the Twitter user get to determine if you want to accept the bid, if its a company you have a problem representing don’t accept the bid. It is non-intrusive, its rather like having a billboard in your yard.


First let me say, I have not tried this service. Usually I am one of the first to try new Twitter tools, however, I felt that this one presented too much risk for my Twitter followers.

Basically you sell your Twitter stream on an interval basis, once every 5, 10, 20 tweets your tweet will be an ad for something. Some people had a real issue with Alltop – Guy Kawasaki’s Encylopedia of RSS feeds, where Twitter users could sign up and allow Alltop to post the latest Alltop addition through their Twitter stream. Some Twitter users lost followers, some didn’t – I lost a couple but not enough for me to be seriously concerned. However, Guy recognized the issue and changed the methodology, now users are email new Alltop topics and can add them to their Twitter stream in their own voice as they wish.

This is the problem I see with Magpie. A lack of fine detail control on the part of the Twitter user. I see nothing wrong with people wanting to make some money from a service they use on a regular basis. Blogs have had ads on them for years – though the actual amount the average blogger makes from those is debatable. So the it is not the concept, but the lack of thought that has gone into the service that I take issue with.


The third attempt comes from CrowdedInk. This is a model that I actually think is quite fun, kitsch perhaps, but fun nonetheless. Going to the CrowdedInk website you enter your Twitter username and from that they generate a montage of all the people on Twitter that you follow. At the moment the image is only available on a mug, through Zazzle. I am sure that there will be other products available and I have no doubt these will start showing up at Tweetups, conferences and other places that geeks gather in 2009. I will run a count of how many I see at SXSW in Austin in March.crowdedink_mug

The reason I like this idea though is simply because it doesnt require you to impact your followers or anyone else on Twitter. Obviously this has little or no appeal to marketers or advertisers because it lacks immediacy and doesnt drive traffic to a website. However, the model could definitely be adapted.

Pepsi tried to get bloggers to write about their new can design by sending boxes of Pepsi to top bloggers. Now how much more impactual would it have been if those cans had shown the top blogger their Twitter crowd?

How do you prefer to see 3rd parties make money on Twitter?

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6 Responses to “Money Makers on Twitter”

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[…] Blogs have had ads on them for years – though the actual amount the average blogger makes from those is debatable. So the it is not the concept , but the lack of thought that has gone into the service that I take issue with. … More […]

I signed up for Magpie to find out what it was about and immediately dumped it. I think the best way to drive traffic is to be real, communicate and not to be in 24 hour sales mode. Big turn off. I try the human approach.

Very Interesting. I’m going to look into Twitterad.

Much thanks for the write-up Simon. Glad you approve my little idea. Something funny that nobody has picked up on yet: the price of the mug.

Thats because I think you have priced it exactly right. $14.95 is both an ok price if you wanted to buy it for yourself or if you wanted to buy it as a gift for someone else.
Let me know when you roll out other gifts for your idea, I’ll keep updating people on them.

Hey Simon – actually, the price is $14, as in $14.0 (140). I suppose I’m easily entertained 😉

I’ll let you know when I roll out new products. Working on a Facebook app right now, but after that I’ll be adding more variety.

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