5 Ways Twitter can Monetize without Ads

Posted on January 19, 2009. Filed under: Business, Observations, twitter | Tags: , , , |

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Recently there has been some discussion about Twitter monetization. Its the same conversation that has been going on for the past few months as people become more aware of Twitter. Unfortunately all the conversations seem to come back to the same suggestions, how Ads can be worked into the Twitter stream without annoying Twitter users.

What I would like to see is some new thinking, instead of simply assuming that if its online then it has to be ad based how about coming up with something better.

Here I propose 5 elements that Twitter could incorporate into a Twitter Premium Service that would allow for some monetization without having to resort to Ads at all.

  1. Bio Search. Right now this is extremely hard to achieve and for the most part is fairly hit or miss. It would be a great idea to have a keyword search for the bio section of a Twitter users page. I would definitely see both power users and commercial Twitter users paying a premium to get at this data.
  2. Extended Tweets – yes I know there are 3rd party services that will allow you to do this for free but if you could do it from within Twitter or better yet within your Twitter application through the use of an API Key which would allow TweetDeck or whatever tool you use to recognize that you are allowed to extend your tweets to says 300 characters I think people would pay for that.
  3. Priority Bandwidth – one of the biggest criticisms of Twitter since it first went live has been its flaky servers. So first they would need to fix that, but moving certain accounts to more reliable servers with greater bandwidth would certainly be a premium service that some would be willing to pay for, especially those that micro-blog from events, such as CES etc.
  4. The ability to DM non-followers. Now I know the TwitterVerse, will, for the most part hate me for even suggesting such a thing – after all it opens up Twitter to Spammers even more – but you get spam anyway. Being able to target Twitter users as a result of good search and send them directed messaging is a Marketers delight, and I am sure they would pay for it.
  5. Make the Sign Up Info available to developers of third party applications via the API. Twitter asks for very little information about you when you sign up, and what it does request it keeps to itself.  Making this type of information available to certain developers would allow those tools to become more useful and powerful and allow for better integration between Twitter and other Social Media platforms. For example you cannot currently export your Twitter followers and then import them into say Facebook to see who is also on there.

Well those are my 5 ways Twitter could monetize its Premium service, what are yours?
Image via CrunchBase

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Twitter for Small Business

Posted on November 3, 2008. Filed under: Business, Social Media, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Social network

Image via Wikipedia

Social Networking is the buzz these days.  Big brands are investing heavily in Customer / User generated content.  Dell reportedly has 34 heads dedicated to brand management in the Social Networking sphere.  With sites like Twitter, Plurk, FriendFeed and others generating a whole industry of Social Networking consultants small & medium businesses might feel that once again the big guys are going to corner the market.

This of course couldn’t be further from the truth.  Small & Medium businesses have always known that customer feedback is the core of their business.  They usually have a much more personal relationship with their customers than the big brands.  Most Social Networking tools are simply trying to replicate that “personal” feel that people look for from smaller enterprises.

Small businesses have used networking tools for a long time, whether its national based professional organizations or local Chamber of Commerce small & medium business owners and leaders have generated business and brand awareness through these direct tools for a long time.

So do small & medium businesses have to be bothered with online social networking tools?  I say definitely.  But they don’t need the vast array of expensive tools and consultants that the bigger brands are investing in.  They most likely already have the skill set in house – good listeners, people who are responsive to the voice of the customer.  After all its harder for a small business to come back from a bad customer experience because they are dealing with a smaller customer base to start with.

Communication Tools

First decide how you are going to send your Tweets.  You can start with the basic Twitter interface but you are likely to find that you out grow this quickly as you increase the number of people that you are following and as your own following grows.

If you want to stay using a web based interface then I recommend using iTweet. It has a better organized interface than the original and allows you to view more information on one page than the original.  However, if you are ready to move away from a web interface then you are better off exploring either Twhirl or TweetDeck.  Having used both I have a preference for Tweet Deck, but you will find your own reasons for using a particular tool.

Where is everyone?

Ok so now you are able to Tweet. Great what next?  First you should find people to follow.  The best way for a small business to do this is to use to Twitter Search.  The advanced option is where you want to focus your efforts. This allows you to make selections based not just on keywords, which of course are important, but also on the type of Tweet – was it a positive comment, a negative comment or a question, Geographic location, did it contain a link.  By using these options combined with phrases that are unique to your business you can find people who are talking about your business.  Having found them you can follow along for a while before you start joining the conversation.  Small businesses are good at this type of communication.  Listening twice as much as they speak (you have two ears & one mouth).   Once you start to understand the way in which Twitter conversations happen you can expand your ability to find conversations that make more business sense.  Tools like TwitterBeep which allow you to set up email alerts for particular keywords. 

So how do all these tools come together into a cohesive Twitter plan? The communication tools will allow you to start joining the conversation.  The search tools allow you to find people to followers and the alert tools allow you to find conversations that matter to you.

As a test I set up alerts to find Twitter conversations where people were asking for recommendations for a Mechanic in Austin (where I live).  Twitter search returns results 15 to a page.  I gave up counting after 8 pages of results!  Had I been a mechanic shop, I think I would have found enough new business prospects to keep me busy for at least a week of Twittering.

Brian Solis maintains a great list of Twitter tools that will get you started.

Are you a small or medium business that is having success using online social media tools?  Share your story here and let everyone know what worked for you and what didn’t.

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