As a follow-up to this week’s earlier post about what social media means to me, I’d like to talk about Twitter and money. Twitter decided to hire somebody whose job it is to make money this past week, but the concept of monetizing Twitter isn’t new. Several people have jumped into the fray citing ideas like 5 ways Twitter can make money or Ways to Monetize Twitter which includes quotes from Jason Calacanis (@jasoncalacanis and others.
If you look at the different ideas floating around out there on the web, the “ways of monetizing Twitter” appear to be more from a big brand perspective. Since I use Twitter for both personal and “big brand” use, I can see where the motto of advertising and tweet blasts come into play. Unfortunately, not every “big brand” methodology works with what the marketing department is trying to do. For example, we’re heavily focused on building a community of music lovers, and don’t want to pound “please buy me” sales into our customers’ heads every day. While sales is important, retaining customers is just as important, if not moreso. Social media allows us to provide our customers with an excellent user experience that makes them feel like a human being, not an ad-supported network.
Why doesn’t Twitter build customizable levels of service?
Before Twitter should even consider advertising, I feel that they should look at going with levels of service, similar to what worked for LiveJournal (a business that has been around since 1999, mind you) for so many years. Give us the ability to opt in for a monthly subscription — even $5 a month — to have an ad-free model, protected replies, integrated link bookmarking, archiving, brand customization, Twitter groups, etc. (By brand customization, I mean charge $50 for setting up the Twitter page for a big name company and include relevant followers.) The idea of “levels of service” also allows celebrities and public figures to have a modicum of privacy to get more out of the tool, giving them the chance to interact with their friends and families in a private manner while not shunning or ignoring their fans.
If we consider Twitter to be a social media tool that people use as a service, then building in those layers of functionality will create a user-focused customizable experience. Regardless, it’d be nice to see Twitter contact a random sample of Twitter users and ask them to be involved in a Beta test. Since this space is so competitive, I hope Twitter doesn’t roll out functionality without testing the waters first.
Why am I bringing this up and how does it affect freelancers? The moral of the story here, is that this space is continually changing because technology is not the only thing that is in flux. A tool’s financial support also impacts how that tool develops.
I recommend staying on top of “tool trends” to see what will work and what doesn’t for you, because one day your favorite service may just wind up disappearing. Staying “in the know” is also important from the perspective of whether or not a client might hire you; sometimes staying on top of web trends through websites like TechCrunch might make or break your chances of getting that lucrative assignment.
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Have a great day!