Since the social networking application, Twitter, hit the popularity stakes, there’s been a silence from Twitter Corp, the crowd behind it, as to how they are going to make money from it. I know Web2.0 is about getting investors to fund cool things, but eventually someone has to start seeing income, otherwise wages, technical infrastructure, ping pong tables, office leasing and everything will become the past.
Here’s a few of my thoughts on ways they could monetise Twitter, not all of them I would agree with (nor would most users I imagine);
1. Allow for inline advertising from ‘twitter bots’. Especially if there was very low volume of tweets, and no method for users to block them.
2. Create a real-time media monitoring service, where companies can get notified every time a key word or phrase is mentioned on Twitter (either by twitters own tools, email or weekly PDF report, linked to the individual tweets).
3. Text advertising on the web interface. I’m thinking Text Link Ads, Google Adsense, etc.
4. Offering paid ‘premium accounts’ which allow for either more tweets per day, no maximum cap on people you are following, posting of multimedia, etc.
5. Charges per inbound text. Many people are using the SMS service – perhaps a simple 55 cent per inbound text system would help pay the bills?
6. Licensing for other application uses – Ebay could embed mentions of products with the actual product. Technorati could add tweets along with posts, blogs, videos and everythign else they index.
7. Selling of generic statistical data – I’m thinking great statistical data here, such as how many times did CompanyX or ProductY gets mentioned last month. Trending graphs could be created, and compared to competitor companies or products.
8. Stand alone Twitter servers for intranets – think of it as a massive LAN messaging system. Similar to Google selling their Google Appliance, Twitter could be used in organisations of hundreds and thousands of employees as a simple messaging system (Miles, you have a call on line 13!)
9. Marketing information – those with the most followers could be considered ‘centres of influence’. Being able to target these users would be gold in a marketers eye. Perhaps advertisers could message them, tweet to them or *gasp* get their email addresses.
10. Create interactive surveys – send a tweet to 10,000 twitterers, and ask them to …post @yes for yes, or @no for no… kind of simple surveys would be a great tool for companies.
11. Sell official Twitter merchandise. Everyone else does it. Who doesn’t want to buy a Twitter tee or Twitter beanie?
12. Sell the company. I know, not very original, but there’s surely got to be at least two companies starting with Y or G who would love to get their hands on Twitter.
Who else has suggestions? I’m sure we can whip up a list for the Twitter team, which includes at least one they may not have thought of.
Image: Screengrab of a default twitter tweet screen.