Infrastructure // PC & Servers
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3/26/2009
11:02 AM
Michael Hickins
Michael Hickins
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Does Twitter Mean Business?

Twitter is apparently on the cusp of providing meaningful services that businesses will be willing to pay for. According to Reuters, the company will roll out commercial accounts later this year for an enhanced version of Twitter.

Twitter is apparently on the cusp of providing meaningful services that businesses will be willing to pay for. According to Reuters, the company will roll out commercial accounts later this year for an enhanced version of Twitter.Twitter co-founder Biz Stone sent Reuters the following e-mail:

We think there will be opportunities to provide services to commercial entities that help them get even more value out of Twitter. If these services are valuable to companies, we think they may want to pay for them.
What a novel idea: figure out what people want and then ask them to pay for it, rather than the other way around. I'll explain what I mean by that in a second.

But first, let's take a look at what those services could be. Charlene Li, a former Forrester analyst, co-author of social media book Groundswell, and currently principal analyst at The Altimeter, explained that enterprises would be interested in a private Twitter feed that stayed out of the public domain using some kind of permissioning via LDAP or by IP address.

This would keep corporate Tweets private while allowing the business to benefit from this extremely open and easy to use communications system.

Beyond that, Twitter could open itself to developers who could build analytic tools allowing customers to track the popularity of certain topics and even locations in real time. So in theory, someone Tweeting about being hungry and not knowing where to eat could get a Tweet from a restaurant chain saying, "hey, we're a block away on your left."

That strikes me as creepy, but Li noted that, "a decade ago, people weren't comfortable with caller ID, and now it's totally accepted."

Twitter has been tweaked a lot recently for not having any kind of business model, and it seemed as if people were urging it to find revenue at any cost. It has done well to resist behaving like Facebook, which has suffered from the hubristic notion that it's easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission, with all its attendant public relations fiascoes.

Beacon was the most obvious example of dreaming up a revenue stream and then finding a business model to fit it. It seems like Twitter is behaving like a more grown-up business by thinking of how its business model is used by customers, and then finding ways to monetize it.

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