Ideas for Twitter’s Revenue Model – pt. 1

Twitter logoThe survey I ran last week is now closed and here is a summary of the ideas and comments collected. Some are fairly traditional and some are rather novel. Take a look, see what’s interesting and leave a comment on which ones you like or dislike.

NOTE: My comments for each of the ideas are not criticisms of those ideas, but simply additional commentary and context.


Google and Microsoft logosAdvertising Revenue Model – Twitter should figure out a model where brand owners pay Twitter to get in front of all those eyeballs. Seems to be a very prevalent Ad driven model in todays economy.

[Saeed] Looks like Google and Microsoft are already all over this idea. Outside of advertising, there are a lot of options for Twitter. As Biz Stone said in a WSJ article recently:

…Twitter recently hired a product manager to oversee the development of commercial accounts. The accounts would offer users more features in exchange for a fee, but Mr. Stone says Twitter hasn’t set a launch date for them.


Wireless carriers logosRevenue Share with Carriers: Tie up with operators worldwide and crack a revenue share deal on the SMSs sent to Twitter. Most people who’re using Twitter from mobile would find this capability useful and since there would be just the regular charge there’s no mindset barrier to break.

[Saeed] – This is an interesting suggestion though I wonder what would convince carriers to give up revenue to Twitter that they can keep for themselves right now. Twitter is driving SMS traffic but has no control over the carrier the user has.

Other SMS related services charge those who create the SMS traffic (e.g. mobile marketing companies). Perhaps the idea could be reversed, where carriers provide specific Twitter packages and branded clients and then split the revenue back with Twitter.


stack of coinsPer Tweet Fees: Charge per tweet, leave following and view tweets free, or just charge per tweet from cell phones.  5 cents a tweet. Or if yearly it depends, If I was using it for promoting my business $250 a year, personally no more than $20 a year.

[Saeed] – Charge per tweet would be hard to justify given tweeting is free right now. On the SMS side there might be a possibility for some fees or packages similar to what the carriers provides for SMS.


Account Analytics and Social Sphere Recommendations: Track, monitor and analyze your twitter account for $5.99/month. Tell me how many followers I have over time, how many of them are talking with me, and with each other. Show me my social sphere as well as historically. Show me my reach, my depth, my breadth. Show me people I should follow because we know the same people and might be interested in each other. Give what you give now for free and charge for all the extras.

[Saeed] – These services are starting to emerge. TwitterCounter, Twitter Analyzer, TweetStats etc. are starting to provide this functionality as are firms that provide analytics (Omniture), but this is certainly an area where more can be done.

Perhaps users might pay 3rd parties for this, but it’s also something that Twitter could support as they are the platform owner. In the end, Twitter will have to play nice with the more established 3rd parties who provide more than simply Twitter statistics, such as reputation management and social media monitoring companies. Twitter is certainly the center of attention right now, but that won’t last forever.


Ask the Expert on Twitter: The ability to ask questions and receive answers from an individual or group within an industry who are designated as experts on Twitter. Would pay anywhere from $1-$10 based on the quality of the answers received. Would be useful to anyone who is searching for specific information that is not readily available via a Web search.

[Saeed] – This is an interesting suggestion. I guess both the question and the answer have be extremely short 🙂 or else the conversation has to leave Twitter and go elsewhere. Yahoo! Answers currently addresses this need for free, as does the Q&A on LinkedIn, as do many other services. Google Answers has been shut down but they were one of the pioneers who tried to enable a “pay-per-answer” service.


I’ll post other ideas submitted in the survey in my next post.  In the mean time, what do you think of these suggestions?


Related Post

Ideas for Twitter’s REvenue Model – pt. 2


10 responses to “Ideas for Twitter’s Revenue Model – pt. 1

  1. I think the first best option is to offer paid accounts. For people who use twitter clients like tweetdeck … give them unlimited api’s for a monthly fee. Viable … and easily doable.

    • GGW,

      Where would you draw the line between paid accounts and unpaid?

      What extra capabilities would the paid accounts have?

      Or what limits would you place on the unpaid?

  2. Saeed: so the phrase “the cat’s out of the bag” was invented for products like this. Twitter can be very easily copied and if they start charging, then someones going to come along and offer the same service for free. A mass migration will then occur.

    Twitter’s strength lies in its user community – it’s huge! The ultimate goal has to be to charge people for granting access to all of those eyeballs.

    It’s a little late in the game, but inserting an context sensitive ad in the middle of a tweet text and then altering the API to pull it out would allow ads to be displayed with each tweet. This would also cause all clients to have to change to support the new ad format.

    It’s a tricky path to walk, but if done correctly it can have fantastic rewards.

    – Dr. Jim Anderson
    The Accidental PM Blog
    “Home Of The Billion Dollar Product Manager”

  3. Create two versions of a twitter account

    one free, and one paid, otherwise you would be spending a lot on revamping applications, and that is your selling point, being able to twitter on my blackberry should always be free no matter what, and never charge for that, that hinders a lot of people.

    use advertisements similar to google ads but not intrusive of people’s profiles

    i like the ask a twitter expert, that’s a fantastic money making idea

    and the special tracking software is a good idea but there are a lot of other apps already out there for free and some paid.

    with the people already using twitter, you have to create a higher level of twitter that people will want, like being able to post videos or other expandable options.

    remember with so many people are joining, you don’t want to be like Google and lose money just to host servers!

    keep current twitter free though..that’s why people love twitter, it’s easy, simple, and free, and it can be done virtually anywhere and takes no time to tweet.

    if you are looking for revenue you have to look for upgrade options that people want like built in auto direct message responder or more following and follower statistics

    but you’re best option is to crate a similar model like google adsense and have people be able to host ads and so forth. that’s my strongest recommendation.

  4. i think the idea to pay for extras like stats will work immediately better

  5. I think you should take on tweetdeck project partners who have easily integrat-bl projects and r compatible with Twitter’s vision and self-concept.
    Personally I would like to be one of those partners– I have a flushed out idea–really flushed out
    Right now Twitter is the hottest thing in the great equalizer Internet arena and you could do something(S) phenom— for the international community you have created– I have more– Time will wait on no man…

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  7. Saeed, I agree with Dr. Jim that Twitter’s strength is in its community. They need to find ways to offer the community valuable ‘products’ for purchase in a way that will not be a turnoff to the users. Big task for their PM(s).

    BTW, I find your conversations on Twitter very interesting, especially given you didn’t want anything to do with it a few months back ;-). -Michael

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