• Why Twitter should monetize with advanced features for users

    by  • February 24, 2009 • Social Media Marketing • 25 Comments

    As Twitter has been gaining more popularity, there has been lots of talk about what Twitter should (and shouldn’t!) do to monetize their service.  One, that seemed to be given a bit of credibility, was the idea of charging businesses for their Twitter accounts.  But, as you can imagine, that opens a whole can of worms as to what exactly counts as a business.  Does that mean @jenstar would be considered a business Twitter account because I also use it for networking?  What about my @jensense or @jenniferslegg which are strictly for keeping people updated on my new blog posts.  Or would it be reserved for the evangelists of companies, such as @Starbucks or @Comastcares?  But then what about @MajorNelson or @MattCutts, because while they are personal Twitter accounts, they are certainly evangelists too.

    So how else could Twitter make money?  Give the users something they really want, and many would be willing to pay for it!  Give the option for a premium or power user version of a Twitter account… I know I would pay for one and I am willing to bet plenty of others would too.  But what should a Twitter Power User Account have?

    Advanced Stats
    Wouldn’t you like to know who is checking out your profile?  Or know which of your followers are actually logging in regularly and read what you tweet?  Or how many people view your twitter feed each day, and of those people, who is already following you, who decides to follow you, and who bounces.  Now, before all the privacy advocates start jumping up and down, it could be an opt-in or opt-out, or it could also be in the form of a generic bar graph along the lines of 47% of your followers log in at least 5 times a week down to 2% of your followers haven’t logged in for the past month.

    Advanced Privacy
    What about if you could change privacy settings more like Facebook?  Like maybe you don’t want to have your updates protected, but you would like to have it so that people have to be logged in to view them? And while you’re at it, why not advanced search settings too… maybe you don’t want your tweets indexed?  Or only allow your followers to search your previous tweets?   That might be especially handy for those who like to tweet on controversial topics but don’t neccessarily want random people to search for their “strong opinion keywords” simply so they can come along and @reply you something nasty for whatever your stated opinion happened to be.

    Suggested Users
    Facebook recommends that I friend people because many of my other friends are friends of theirs too.  Why not the same kind of idea, but based on who I follow.  If half of the people I follow are following someone, chances are good I either know the person or know of him or her.  There are still people I happen to run across on Twitter that have been tweeting for a month or more, but I had no idea they were there.  Twitter does offer this for brand new users as they are signing up, albiet seemingly only listing those with “celebrity status” and who already have high follower counts (think in the neighborhood of 100,000 followers), but having this available to the entire community at all times would be good, especially if they listed those with a lot less followers.  Have it as a “27 of the people you follow also follow @whoever.  Would you like to follow @whoever too?  Yes / No”.

    Adding a @comment tab
    Wouldn’t you love to know that someone happened to bring your @name up in a tweet somewhere?  Well, right now, if it isn’t first in the box and showing up as an @reply in your home page, summize, RSS or some of the apps are the only way you are going to know unless someone points it out or you happen to be following them.  Twitter itself doesn’t alert you.

    Add a ReTweet button
    Yes, the favorites and replies icons at the right side of every tweet is handy.  Why not add a Re-tweet icon too, to make it easy for people to RT, and which automatically adds the RT (or whatever funky symbol is the consensus at the time, lets standardize it!) and the @name you are retweeting, along with the text.  Yes, cut and paste is fairly quick, but Twitter should promote the retweet and make it amazingly simple for to do it.  Because Twitter also has the advantage of the fact RT builds the community spirit when everyone is retweeting important things others have said.

    Adding a ReTweet tab
    Add a tab that lets me know I have been retweeted.  Sure, if someone retweets a blog post of mine, it will show up in my Google Analytics (sometimes) but it would be far handier to make it easy for me to know, without doing the @jenstar summize search or RSS.  I use Twitter on the web frequently (and I noticed plenty of people doing the same in sessions at SMX earlier this month) so it would be handy to have it all-in-one without having to go to an app, a different webpage or an RSS to find it.

    Set power users apart
    Give power users something that makes it obvious they have ponied up and paid for a power user subscription, whether it is a shiny gold star next to the twitter name or a badge of some sort in the sidebar.  Because not only does it make those who have paid stand out a bit more, it also makes it obvious who hasn’t paid… and I am sure more than a few would pay up simply because they don’t want to be seen as the one who hasn’t gone the power route amongst their peers!

    Shhhh button
    We have all had it happen… someone just starts to really starts to annoy us.  Perhaps someone is ranting on about something you couldn’t care less about at a rate of 8 tweets a minute, and there appears to be no end in sight.  Or maybe someone is out for a night out with copious amounts of alcohol and their nonsensical tweets combined with bad humor are annoying.  Or maybe they have just released a tool/app/ebook/blog and are spamming your Twitter feed about it (Note: if you think this might be you, read Ten Ways to Market Your Blog on Twitter Without Being a Spammer)  You don’t neccessarily never want to see them tweet again, nor want them to know you secretly find them to be completely annoying by unfollowing them, but at the moment, you have had enough!  It would be great to be able to temporarily ignore their tweets for 1 hour, 6 hours, 1 day or even 1 week, after which they will start appearing in my Twitter stream again.  Tweetdeck does allow you to sort users, so you could avoid this, but it is still annoying no matter how you slice or dice it… especially if you happen to get that person’s tweets sent directly to your mobile!

    Do the ones I follow follow me back?
    I personally don’t care if I happen to follow people who don’t follow me back, but others I know will go and unfollow those who don’t follow them back on a regular basis.  But it would be also handy to spot those people (who shall remain nameless!) who constantly follow people, then immediately unfollow, in hopes that you will follow them back (and yes, some of these people have followed then immediate;y unfollowed me multiple times.  Not sure how people can tell this if they are being followed by someone?  If you wanted to see if I am following you,  go to my main Twitter page (ie. http://www.twitter.com/jenstar), look to see if there is a “message jenstar” option listed in your right sidebar under actions.  If I am not following you, it will simply say “block jenstar”.  And lacking in followers?  Here is Why People You Follow on Twitter Don’t Follow You Back.

    Block #whatever in my Twitter stream
    Sure, a bunch of my friends are at whatever the latest conference, event, or gathering, so my entire Twitter updates list is filled with all the people I follow having a great time somewhere I am not.  So I would like to be able to block anything with #keyword so I don’t have to spend my entire evening being envious.  Or just use it so I don’t have to see things like the running #oscars commentary if I decide to spend the time working instead :)

    Advanced and/or quicker support
    If you have ever tried to send a support request to Twitter, you will know the 5-7 days they say it will take them to respond is such an underestimate.  I sent in a report on a guy with a topless (and very young looking) girl in his background on his Twitter page, which is against the Twitter rules.  I sent a request 25 days ago asking Twitter to look at it, and it is still languishing “awaiting assignment to a help desk operator”.   It would be nice if power users had the ability to get priority on their support requests… because 25 days is kind of rediculous for a support request that is actually to help keep Twitter clean.

    So in reality, this is also my Twitter power user wish list.  Yes, I do know there are a variety of tools that do some of the above, but there isn’t an “all-in-one” tool that saves a user for going to different sites or apps to do it.  I would quite happily pay to have it as an all in one option, and support Twitter financially in the process, and I know many others would too – so long as it was priced right.  And this would also avoid the whole issue of whether or not Twitter should add advertising to the site. 

    Besides, I know I would love to have all these shiny new options to play with on Twitter 😉

    Follow me at @jenstar on Twitter.


    Jennifer Slegg is a longtime member of the SEO community and is an expert on social media, content marketing, Google AdSense and search engines.

    25 Responses to Why Twitter should monetize with advanced features for users

    1. February 25, 2009 at 7:44 am

      LOL, use twitter much??

      “Adding a @comment tab
      Wouldn’t you love to know that someone happened to bring your @name up in a tweet somewhere? Well, right now, if it isn’t first in the box and showing up as an @reply in your home page, summize, RSS or some of the apps are the only way you are going to know unless someone points it out or you happen to be following them. Twitter itself doesn’t alert you.”

      How about clicking on the replies tab in your account?


    2. Jenstar
      February 25, 2009 at 7:57 am

      The @reply tab only brings up when someone STARTS their tweet with @yourname not if they happen to tweet “blah blah blah blah @yourname blah blah”

    3. February 27, 2009 at 7:57 am

      Tweetdeck and http://friendorfollow.com are covering a couple of features requested

    4. March 9, 2009 at 1:57 am

      I think this is an excellent suggestion. Yes- twitter should monetize (and get themselves a viable business model) by offering advanced options like those you just described.

    5. March 9, 2009 at 1:22 pm

      Have only been Twittering for two weeks and is already getting flooded with tweets.

      Some kind of advanced filtering of the tweets could be nice.

      Some of the business twitteres is posting blog-posts, and are ReTweeting a lot of Tweets. This means that some a posting more than 100 Tweets a day. To much .. yes but some days it’s nice.

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    7. March 19, 2009 at 2:10 am

      Hi Jennifer,

      This article caught my eye … I especially love the idea of having a shhh option.

      I’m still amazed that Twitter hasn’t started integrating some sort of monetization, there are certainly no lack of great ideas for doing so.

      Great article thank you!

      … Scott Prock

    8. March 25, 2009 at 8:17 pm

      I just subscribed to the JenniferSlegg.com’s RSS and noticed this article.

      Was going to post a link to that Silicon Alley article and just noticed your latest comment…hah.

      So, instead, I’ll just say I hope they do indeed ad some of the pro account suggestions you’ve made!


    9. Annonymous
      April 6, 2009 at 12:54 pm

      I think your ideas for a Twitter Plus account are right on the money. Your suggestions are definitely what Twitter needs.

      P.S. I hate being a Nazi but in the paragraph directly below “Advanced and/or Quicker Support” ridiculous is misspelled. You’re a smart woman, don’t let little things such as spelling make you seem less than the authority that you are.

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