If I Owned Twitter

Posted on July 27, 2008 10:34 PM by Joel Comm

Social Media is all the buzz right now.

It started with MySpace, continued with YouTube and has brought about Facebook, Twitter and a host of other sites promising the help people interact in new ways.

These sites have become very popular and two were purchased for a tidy sum. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp purchased MySpace for $580 million and Google bought YouTube for for $1.65 BILLION.

I'm sure the boys from Facebook and Twitter have entertained some interesting offers, but the question remains...

How can social networking sites make money?

The initial concept is that eyeballs equal advertising dollars. And to some degree this is true.

But is there enough money in advertising to make these sites worth the purchase price?

Take a look at Twitter.

I don't know how many people actually use the service, but a lot of people do sign up. I think the number of diehards on the site are probably smaller than one would guess.

Nevertheless, Twitter is faced with a problem.

Well, actually two problems.

First of all, they have more downtime for maintenance (ie: system failures) than any other popular site.

But more importantly, I don't think they really know how to monetize their site.

So I posed the question on Twitter this evening...

If YOU owned Twitter, how would you attempt to make money with it?

The responses came in pretty quickly.

MichealSavoie @joelcomm I would create a PRO version of Twitter that people would pay for unlimited followers and friends along with ads on non-PRO sites 40 minutes ago from TweetDeck in reply to joelcomm

leonhorton @joelcomm Restrictions at MySpace and YouTube cause a marketer a lot of disgust. The big GURUs should join together & buy Twitter. about 1 hour ago from web in reply to joelcomm

FrankRumbauskas @joelcomm They're sitting on their butts hoping to get bought out. Total 1990s mentality. about 3 hours ago from web in reply to joelcomm

michelleprice @joelcomm Twitter model - maybe like cell phone companies charge for sending text messages? I dunno. Good question tho about 3 hours ago from web in reply to joelcomm

RussellPortwood @joelcomm Last time I saw @lynnterry she had a Twitter t-shirt on! about 4 hours ago from twhirl in reply to joelcomm

kevinreid @joelcomm Offer premium twitter features: insert html (ex right hand column), ad sharing revenue, buy ad space on specific user's pages. about 4 hours ago from web in reply to joelcomm

NicoleHamilton @joelcomm I'd sell all kinds of Twitter gear, sell ad space & do a reality TV show to see the folks behind Twitter live out their tweets. about 4 hours ago from web in reply to joelcomm

FeliciaSlattery @joelcomm - Twitter could have their daily maintenance page sponsored. about 4 hours ago from web in reply to joelcomm

Jonathan_Gunson @joelcomm Google just walked out of talks with Twitter. http://www.keywebdata.com/?... Expect a social engine from Google by fall. about 5 hours ago from web in reply to joelcomm

delwilliams @joelcomm I would put adsense on it or sell ads. I might even consider membership levels. about 5 hours ago from web in reply to joelcomm

Jonathan_Gunson @joelcomm YES. Social media WILL be used by marketers increasingly. (TwitSpaceFace should embrace this, not fight it.) about 5 hours ago from web in reply to joelcomm

Tucson_Cowgirl @joelcomm I'm not the 1st to say this about Twitter's business plan, but 1st fix problems, then go after geo-targeted/themeatic advertising. about 5 hours ago from web in reply to joelcomm

DomainSmith @joelcomm advertising seems like the obvious choice for monetization, but I think there's an opportunity to add low cost premium services. about 5 hours ago from web in reply to joelcomm

justinvincent @joelcomm (1) White lable for enterprise and government (2) Sell as widget for customer care (3) Sell as interactive marketing landing page about 5 hours ago from web in reply to joelcomm

bobtheteacher @joelcomm - twitter could put p.s./sponsor ads in the bottom of every notification email that says someone is following them. about 5 hours ago from web in reply to joelcomm

barefoot_exec @joelcomm What about twitter shirts with "Got Success? Follow JoelComm on Twitter!" If you're ok with the whale branding, that might work? about 5 hours ago from web in reply to joelcomm

mikkeljuhl @joelcomm I would make merchandise. about 5 hours ago from web in reply to joelcomm

FeliciaSlattery @JoelComm if I owned Twitter I would buy The AdSense Code and memorize it. Then use it on every home page. about 5 hours ago from web in reply to joelcomm

nemock @joelcomm how about something like the million pixel project? You could sell some of your 140 chars! about 5 hours ago from TwitterBerry in reply to joelcomm

nemock @joelcomm by selling it as a media platform and then I'd run! LOL about 5 hours ago from TwitterBerry in reply to joelcomm

Brad smokinblues @joelcomm monthly fee for IM, SMS, and unlimited followers. about 6 hours ago from web in reply to joelcomm

TedWahler @joelcomm If I owned Twitter I would consult with Joelcomm first about different strategies to make money about 6 hours ago from twhirl in reply to joelcomm

fairminder @joelcomm Revenue Model; Twitter adds sound track to Fail Whale [roll Orca screaming] We pay to stop the sound track. Fail whale silenced ;) about 6 hours ago from web in reply to joelcomm

CCGAL @joelcomm put google ads along the sides? LOL Just kidding. about 6 hours ago from web in reply to joelcomm

shokk @joelcomm If I owned Twitter I'd use ads & premium services to make $$. Add more services tho. People hungry for ways to connect w/ Twitter. about 6 hours ago from web in reply to joelcomm

JeremyLuebke @joelcomm Twit text ads sent to each account once a day. Only to accounts which posted that day. Use resources, get an ad about 6 hours ago from TwitterFox in reply to joelcomm

I have some ideas of my own, but I'm curious to see what you think.

How would YOU monetize Twitter?

See Also

Free Google Buzz Report - Mar 19, 2010
How to Prepare for 2008 - Dec 31, 2007

11 Comments For This Post

  1. Charles trippy Says:

    pffft, I all ready own twitter :)

  2. Henrik Blunck - Denmark Says:

    I see one big flaw missing from being described. Having a VIP or PRO edition where people could pay to go beyond the 160 char-limit could greatly improve Twitter.

    For free, 160 chars is excellent, but being able to go beyond would make for better messages, and earn Twitter quite a bit of money.

    My recipe for success? When I need it, I'm sure many others do too.... ;-)

    Come Twitter as I update on http://twitter.com/h_blunck :-)

  3. Stanley Tang - Internet Marketing Strategies Says:

    Well, advertising will be the obvious choice.

    And insert ads inbetween the twitter posts (so it sort of blends in)

    Stanley

  4. Tomy ye Says:

    good move for those twitter, but as social side , they should have support 24 online system, since there are people from all over thw world. you may never know what these guys surf internet.

    P.s i am preparing book how to advertise cheaply on adwords as low as
    1 cent with high traffic.. I recently break adwords code.
    mail me at yeksm@yahoo.com for more info

  5. Bob Kleppin Says:

    Joel, I don't know what the answer is, but I do know that it has to happen. Social networking didn't start with My Space it actually started with "Six Degrees of Separation." This was the very first true social networking effort. Unfortunately they couldn't find a decent way to monetize their efforts and finally died a painful death. The same will happen to Twitter if can't overcome the expense of running with a revenue stream.

  6. Dan Says:

    If I owned twitter I would create a widget similar to TweetMyBlog's http://tweetmyblog.com/?rid=1559 then I would sell advertising and do revenue shares with site owners who display the widget.

    They could even add an "advertise on this tweet" component. And give the site owner a large percentage of revenue.

    I'd also like to see that you advertise your Twitter page to the masses for more exposure.. Pay $100 and get exposure until you get 100 new followers.

  7. Shawn Says:

    Hi Joel,

    This is quite a touchy post talking about Twitter. I'm still in the process of figuring this one out myself. I wonder how Twitter makes their money, because although they are former employees of Google, they have no ads on thier microblogging service. It is quite confusing to me as to how they run their business. Additionally, i also noticed how MySpace stays stagnated at a traffic rank of 7 on Alexa and a PR of 8, when Facebook is now at 5, and a Google page rank of 9. This is quite interesting....:-)

  8. Micheal Savoie Says:

    Joel,

    A quick question, do the same people also own twitpic.com?

    They use a single adsense ad on the page, but they must get an outrageous amount of traffic to that site!

    Great seeing you in Chicago couple weekends ago!

    Micheal

  9. Andrew Finkle Says:

    Lots and lots of ways to monetize Twitter

  10. minghui Says:

    If I own twitter... hmmm...


    I am not an online marketer, so I will learn something here first then own twitter.

  11. Jezhug Says:

    I would give companies the opportunity to pay for sponsored tweets that maintain the top position for one hour. Tweet adds could be purchased in one hour blocks.

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