The debate of how twitter will be able to make green to materialize its success has been a contentious question on the minds of many in social media. There has been a lot of talk about the different models that Twitter can take up, and Twitter has just taken the first step on adopting a model.
So, Why Is It Taking This Long?
With about 51.6 million visitors (as of July – comScore), Twitter is still not able to see the dollar sign in all those eyeballs. The problem has been that the nature of Twitter creates some obstacles that require quite the creative model to overcome. Twitter’s claim to fame has been its accessibility and simplicity, whether it’s in the millions of ways that you can access the service or the openness of its API, it has been loved for those qualities. Yet those same qualities are complicating the answer to our original question. The fact of the matter is that they don’t serve ads because they fear alienating their users, especially that Twitter has a lot of users who never access the website directly and only use it through other clients and services. But things are starting to shift and it seems that Biz Stone is shuffling its feet towards settling on a business model.
Last week, every Twitter user received an email informing him/her that there have been changes made to the end user license agreement. The terms of service for the API, spam, and ownership have been tweaked, but the most important change, in my opinion, is that Twitter has opened the door for selling advertisement space via its service. While which advertising model they will adopt is a completely different discussion, their inclusion of this change in the terms of service means that they are seriously considering it.
So, How Will Twitter Make Those Greenbacks?
Advertisements are just one of the many options that Twitter might take to generate revenue. One of the promising options is for Twitter to offer corporate or pro accounts on its service that will open up the door to a whole new way of utilizing the service. Those corporate accounts will possibly come with their own set of underlying API’s that will provide them with more search and outreach capabilities and possibly open the door for businesses to get better analysis on how Twitter is impacting their business.
Speaking of brands, a lot of brands have been using Twitter for commercial services and there has been measurable data about what increase in sales was generated by the Twitter effect. Dell, Comcast, and other businesses offer discounts and services on Twitter. Therefore, Twitter might need to think about offering advanced brand monitoring services, where any conversation that will mention the brand will be tagged with information about the company and possibly their latest offers or services.
Or It Could Just Sell It While Its HOT!
Moving away from selling add-ons or specialty services, Twitter can sell the service it already provides in some unique ways, like partnering with mobile device carriers and makers to create Twitter devices or carrier services. If they enter the mobile market they might be what the mobile web needs to reach the tipping point, with social media contributing to more than half of the Internet’s traffic, carrier based Twitter service might create the incentive to use the mobile web more often.
Other than the service itself, Twitter already has a wealth of users, and its users’ demographic and statistical data is definitely the “Holy Grail” for many web marketers. While one of the changes to the terms of service is that it affirms that you own your tweets, it still gives Twitter the right to use them, and, if used anonymously, they might allow those marketers insight into what people are thinking and gravitating towards, the thought alone will make them salivate.
And Money They Shall Make!
Whichever way Twitter chooses to go, there one certain thing is that it will be able to capitalize on its popularity one way or another. So the question is not if it’s going to be able to do it but how?
So how do you see Twitter making money? Could they possibly conjure the scorn of their fans if they divorce their core qualities and maybe start charging for access through 3rd party apps or for the API? Let us hear your thoughts.