It seems as if a lot more people are talking about Twitter, its lack of a business model and how the service can be monetized. One idea is to charge users a small fee. I’ve heard various proposals around this, including – a charge up to your first 1,000 followers or a charge after you reach 1,000 followers.
The truth of the matter is – if Twitter were to charge anything for its basic service, people would stop using Twitter and jump onto another free service. Or another service would evolve and take Twitter’s place.
For the company as a whole, it’s time to start thinking less about advertising or a fee-for-service model for all Twitter users and think more about an enterprise model for Twitter’s corporate base. I recognize that on the surface this may seem contradictory to Twitter’s overall purpose or what many in the Twitter-sphere like about the microblogging platform. But the core reality of what Twitter is and what makes Twitter strong is the opt-in / opt-out nature of its user base; and the ability of people to find other people or companies that have something interesting to say. The truth of the matter is that if a corporation were to ever abuse its audience – its audience would essentially disappear. Twitter is not ABC – so mass appeal is not required – however appeal is absolutely necessary for success.
In my view an enterprise level application or SaaS for Twitter would be fine, but it would need to encompass a few key attributes:
1) There would need to be better management of each person a business account user had as a follower. This means Twitter users in general would need to offer up more data about themselves, such as a valid e-mail, website, and greater description of who they are. In turn, Twitter would need to develop a better system to allow for organizing followers by geographic information and other identifiers.
2) Following a business account with an enterprise-level profile would have to include more opt-in features. Followers would need to be able to specify their preferred method of contact beyond Twitter, and outline how they do not want to be contacted.
3) Similarly, business account holders would be able to offer information to a user that goes beyond Twitter feeds, such as discount coupons, targeted product placements and better customer support.
These are just a few items that would be needed in an enterprise version of Twitter.
Whether or not Twitter goes down this path, I think the alternatives offer Twitter less longevity in the market. Developing a more business-friendly solution would accelerate its adoption and allow for greater interaction to take place between a consumer and a business.