This is all hearsay and rumour at the moment, but then most of these kinds of things involving Twitter usually are. How far back was it that we started hearing about premium accounts?
Anyway, according to Peter Kafka (@pkafka) at AllThingsD, there’s a chance that Twitter could be planning to offer a variation on its Promoted Tweets feature to common or garden users such as you and I.
According to Kafka:
People familiar with the company’s plans say it has been discussing yet another revenue generator: Think of it as a “Promoted Tweeter” product, which highlights specific user accounts, designed to bump up follower counts.
My sources weren’t sure about the business model behind the product, which may be because Twitter itself doesn’t know yet. Some obvious possibilities: Twitter could charge users based on the number of followers they acquired, or simply based on the exposure their Twitter accounts received.
Twitter’s spokesman Sean Garrett (@SG) stated via email, somewhat vaguely:
“We will eventually have full suites of both promoted and commercial products. All the components of these two buckets of product have yet to be determined. Some are currently being tested publicly now. Some will be tested soon. Some are just ideas that we are broaching externally for feedback.”
It’s very debatable how much value something like this would bring. Of course, make this cheap enough and the spammers, mass-marketers and churners would likely be all over a product like this.
But for everybody else the very concept of paying for followers, even indirectly, goes against everything that makes Twitter work – being remarkable, engaging with others and ensuring your network remains optimised as much as possible.
Of course, Twitter’s suggested user list essentially gave this opportunity to lots of high-profile celebrities and brands for free, and many benefited from this with millions of followers, almost overnight. And while there has definitely been a value there for some, the quality of those followers is considered to be fairly low.
And this was when they didn’t cost a penny. Put a price on that – assuming you can – and that quality is likely to dip even further. It could work like Google Adwords, where you only pay Twitter for each person who clicks on your promotional tweet and/or becomes a follower, but that in no way guarantees any kind of quality.
More importantly, for many Twitter is still seen as a numbers game – the person with the most followers wins. By adding a business model to that the company is basically telling the world that that’s exactly what it is.