Twitter’s biggest challenge to date is figuring out how to make money. They’ve got the users, the ‘trust’, they’ve got businesses using it to reach out to their customers, but they haven’t cracked the all important issue of profits. Here’s how I think they should do it.
Charge businesses a fee to use twitter, with a specific business account. This will have features that allow businesses to analyse their follower demographics, their most successful tweets and so on.
Offer much improved marketing services at the core of the platform. Twitter actually have a lot of information about people from what they tweet, how often, how many followers they have and so on. So hire some serious data scienists, mine what your users like, do and think, and sell that to advertisers.
Injected tweets. Even if I do follow Pepsi on twitter, what’s to say I’ll ever actually see or read any of their tweets? And there’s only so much value in people who already like and follow a brand seeing those tweets. Inject tweets directly into someone’s stream as they’re loading or viewing their tweets (or have it as a banner), tie this to your data analysis and sell a tweet injected into the stream of ‘users who tweet about Coke and have 500+ followers’ to Pepsi.
The general assumption seems to be that twitter has a lot less information about you than Facebook does. But in reality, twitter just has different information – and more importantly, real time information on what you’re thinking and talking about. This is what they need to sell to businesses – powerful and precise marketing tools. In order to do this, they need to be incredible at data analysis. This will not come cheap – but it needs to be done, and could provide incredible value to businesses without twitter turning into the next Yahoo.