4 Ways of How Twitter Can Make Money… Which will it be?

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.

How will Twitter make money ?

How will Twitter make money ?

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.

The Church of Twitter

The Church of Twitter

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.

Comments and Reactions

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ Beiruta

    I know one thing for sure, “charging for access” should not be one of the options. Twitter users will feel betrayed. Furthermore, I think if Twitter does that, they will miserably fail, like others have!

    I think “unintrusive” advertising is the way to go.

    Great post! Thanks for the info :)

  • http://twitter.com/Krud Krud

    I agree with Beiruta. Charging admission, or worse yet a pay-per-tweet method, is the surest way for them to lose most of their current userbase. (Especially since a lot of people are already “paying” via their mobile texting service.)

    Along similar lines, it wouldn't behoove them to gimp the current usability levels and then offer a “plus” or “gold” account that gives people back what they'd already been accustomed to. Bonus features, sure, charge for those perhaps, but not for continued functionality/accessibility.

  • http://twitter.com/mejimmyes Jim Crabb

    How is twitter going to make money?…some thoughts…charging, I'd pay $5us a year to keep things as they are more or less…but of course when you charge for something a new layer is created-you have to collect the charge which can 'eat up' part of that charge and raise the the expeneses associated with accounting…don't like ads-facebook ads are better than most-off to the side and FB even ask you what you think of the ad (they have 'free' focus groups)-the worst being a freesever 'free' web site with so many popups and flashing thingys you almost have to reboot to escape-so ads can be done without changing the charcter too much. Already get ads in a sense…typed a twitter response and used the word republican and immediatly had a new follower who was the head of a regional Republican group…my politics being what they are I block this follower…why?…they either just did a search and followed anything republican or used a robot and obviosly if the had read a few of my tweets they wouldn't be following me…I've noticed this off and on-key words new followers-but want to sell me something I don't want…so my followers and and following count is low. The worst thing that could happen would be if Microsoft or some other mega company bought them out…it would cease to be twitter. I don't do a lot of commenting (my spelling can be rather creative and I don't really understand enough yet to do this) but visit thoughtpick often…

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ FadiPick

    Same here, whenever I say any key word on Twitter I get business related account following me! That is fine as long as I don't have to follow them back :).

    I wouldn't pay for any charge to keep using Twitter. I prefer to keep free for users as it is now. I wouldn't mind some ads at the bottom of the tweets list. I personally think that they should go for it.

    and you are always welcome here at thoughtpick, we always appreciate your participation :)

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com M.Bamieh

    I think even if they did that, cutting some of the services and making them for pay, the majority of the users will move elsewhere because in this day and age the average user expects everything for free and the media tried, trying, to get to do that and it usually fails miserably :)
    So the only way i see it is to create specialty accounts and a creative way to advertise not necessarily through twitter but using some of the information one there

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