Twitter: We'll Monetize With Search, Brands

The much-hyped microblogging service will capitalize on its user base through search, says Twitter executive.

Marin Perez, Contributor

May 15, 2009

2 Min Read

The increased number of users means Twitter needs to add staff and servers to keep up with the demand, and even a well-funded company can't continue to eat those costs without generating any revenue. Thau said the company definitely has plans in the works to capitalize on its user base, but he gave no indication when it would roll out these services. "We don't call ourselves a social network, even though we get classified like that," Thau said. "[Twitter] is an enabling messaging platform that services can get built upon, and it's been very good at allowing others to make money."

One way the company plans to monetize is by assisting businesses to monitor, promote, and maintain their images on Twitter. Thau pointed to Kogi as an example of how the service can be used as an effective promotional tool. The Korean barbeque restaurant operates out of a food truck, and it only broadcasts where it will be through Twitter. Thau said he has heard multiple stories of local restaurants and businesses seeing increased sales by using Twitter to engage its customers as well.

For larger businesses, Twitter could be a de facto focus group about how companies or products are viewed, Thau said. Comcast already is using Twitter to help customers troubleshoot or resolve billing issues, and the response online generally has been very positive.

Another key aspect of Twitter's monetization plans is through search, as Thau said there's a well-defined paradigm for monetizing this. While it may not have the breadth of content that Google and Yahoo index, Twitter could find a sweet spot capitalizing on the real-time nature of its messages. The Summize acquisition was a key part of this strategy, and the company already has rolled the search feature into the main Twitter page.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on the business uses of social networks. Download the report here (registration required).

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