I was disappointed when Twitter announced their @anywhere platform a few weeks back. Not that it’s not a good idea. I think it’s logical to want to compete with Facebook Connect. But it doesn’t solve their number one core problem – they are spending gobs of money and still don’t have a business model. When I heard there was going to be a big announcement, I was one of the many people who figured it would finally be an advertising platform. I mean, it’s silly to think that a company might want to someday turn a profit right?
Here’s the thing that frustrates me. It’s so simple and seemingly so obvious that it hurts to think about. They have a revenue model right under their nose that will make them a lot of money right off the bat AND improve the user experience: charge for commercial accounts.
The #1 thing that sucks on Twitter as a user is that there are all sorts of spammers everywhere. That goes for legit businesses and personal users alike. Charge $9.99/month to be allowed to Tweet commercially. Put a “report as commercial” button to report anyone who posts commercially without one of these paid accounts. Anyone who is reported could be reviewed by a Twitter moderator and then warned/removed, or they could crowd source it (3 strikes and you’re out)…or maybe build an algorithm to investigate the nature of the Tweets and what they’re linking to. The resources to make this happen would be minimal compared to the resources they have at their disposal.
Within a month you’d weed out the majority of the crap. As a business owner who only has a few hundred followers (@DetailedImage), we wouldn’t think twice about paying that. It easily makes that back, plus it’s a great way to intimately connect with some of our most loyal customers. Most businesses that really apply themselves have far more followers and would probably pay $99/month without blinking. New businesses would gladly pay it because of the huge opportunity that Twitter presents.
If you really wanted to get fancy, you could also charge for the right to display a specific ad to a specific user, or the right to direct message someone who isn’t following you. This isn’t rocket science here. If done even reasonably well Twitter becomes a better business and improves the user experience.
Question then: with the $160M in funding they’ve received and the 140+ employees that they have, why hasn’t their team even attempted to build a profitable business?