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Posts Tagged ‘premium Twitter’

New Way To View Verified Users’ Tweets: Filtering Out Their Replies

In a move that will likely disappoint narcissists, Twitter has come up with a cool new offering that we hope will soon apply to every Twitter account: the ability to filter out replies when viewing a user’s Twitter stream.

For now, this will only work for verified users, unfortunately. But it’s a start!
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I Just Upgraded To @HootSuite Pro (Which Means I'm Actually Paying For Twitter)

Time to put my money where my mouth is. Yep – I can now say I am actually paying to tweet.

As regular readers will know, I’ve been a huge fan of HootSuite since way back. My team and I find the software absolutely invaluable at work, and the new Pro package monthly subscription ($5.99, plus $15 per user – note, not per social network, which are unlimited with the pro plan) was a small price to pay.

I didn’t do the vanity URL, because I don’t want that – I want, and that isn’t yet an option, which is frustrating. But everything else has become essential.

A free version of HootSuite is still available, although business users are kind of over a barrel here as the free option doesn’t come with any of the features we’ve come to know and love, and is really for single users only. Which is fair enough. If you’re making money with Twitter, then Twitter – and associates – should probably be taking a little back from you.

I hope that HootSuite continue to add features to this plan and all this anti-freemium stuff works out for them, as if/until something better comes along the thought of downgrading to TweetDeck or CoTweet simply does not appeal. This is a bold but in my opinion welcome move – now isn’t the time to just stagnate and count the cash.

Improve, improve, improve – most importantly, listen to what your users want.

Just for the record, I’m not affiliated with HootSuite (although I should be, by jove) now affiliated with HootSuite. Why? Because I believe in it. If you’re a fan and using HootSuite for business purposes on Twitter, do the right thing and upgrade.

You can find more details on the Pro service here.

Twitter On Future Profitability: "We're Thinking About Big, Big Numbers."

Twitter Chief Operating Officer Dick Costolo (@dickc) has been outlining Twitter’s plans for its new advertising system and addressing concerns about the company’s long-term monetization goals.

“We were valued at over a billion dollars last September, so we’re going to live in a world where we need to be generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue,” Costolo told Reuters. “We’re thinking about big, big numbers.”

Other points of interest:

  • Twitter is currently adding another dozen advertisers to their Promoted Tweets platform, which Costolo says has been “successful beyond our wildest dreams.”
  • Costolo says Twitter will start to “ramp this up aggressively” beginning in the third quarter of 2010
  • The long-hyped premium Twitter accounts are due this July or August

Costolo: “I’m super confident but it’s a dark tunnel and we’ll see where we are at the end of Q4.”

(Source: Reuters.)

Twitter Announces 'Pay As You Tweet' Subscription Plan For All Users (And Will Backdate Your Invoice)

Twitter’s premium business model and plans to monetize the social media platform have long been the subject of debate and speculation, with many strongly opposed to the idea of any kind of advertising on the system.

Others embrace the concept behind a ‘pro Twitter’, and it’s likely these latter folks that Twitter has targeted with this announcement which, while shocking, was perhaps inevitable, certainly as the company looks to generate a consistent source of revenue.

Over the official Twitter blog, the co-founders write about the network’s new Pay As You Tweet subscription model, which will begin to charge all users each time they update their status on the system.

When we speak publicly about how Twitter might become a profitable business, we talk about the idea of commercial usage and then explain that we’re still exploring what that means–that’s true. We also say traditional web banner advertising isn’t interesting to us which is also true. However, to say we are philosophically opposed to making money is incorrect.

The idea of taking money to run traditional banner ads on has always been low on our list of interesting ways to generate revenue. However, facilitating connections between businesses and individuals in meaningful and relevant ways is compelling. In light of this, I’m pleased to announce that from May 1, 2010, Twitter will become a subscription-only social network.

On this launch date all of our users will be privy to our new ‘Pay As You Tweet’ price plan, which will charge you for each new tweet you submit to the network. This will be priced at a very reasonable one cent per tweet. You will be able to buy tweet credit in advance, in multiples of thousands, and it’s important that you do this as once your account credit hits zero, you won’t be able to update until you top up.

Businesses and brands will be able to opt into our ‘Twitter Unlimited’ package, which will ensure that their accounts are always available, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We’ll simply invoice you at the end of each month. And if you’re a celebrity, we’ll probably give it to you for free.

One more thing. Because we really need the money, on May 1 you’ll need to top up your accounts to the point that all your existing tweets – that is, everything you’ve ever submitted to Twitter since the day that you first signed up – are paid for before you will be able to tweet anything new.

This modest influx of cash will allow us to immediately upgrade our servers, move to nicer offices and buy more art. More importantly, your tweets will facilitate us with the means to continue lead the lifestyle to which we’ve become very much accustomed.

It’s this backdating part that disturbs me the most – while I don’t necessarily object to the idea of paying for Twitter, I’ve already written well over 20,000 tweets. This means that from May I’ll already owe Twitter over two hundred dollars, and even if I qualify for one of their plans I’ll still be having to watch what I tweet.

I also would have preferred to see the option for a continuation of a free version of Twitter, perhaps supported by advertisements that appear within our streams.

With an estimated fifty million tweets now being delivered to the network each and every day, and over 10 billion tweets since launch, Twitter looks to earn some 15 million dollars a month from this revenue source – and an incredible $100 million from all the tweets already on the system.

Assuming, of course, that thousands, and even millions of users don’t suddenly abandon their accounts. It’s not as if they can force them to pay, after all. Still, I fear that those of us that have started to use the network as a business tool have very much been forced over a barrel.

I haven’t quite made up my mind how I feel about this radical change of direction for Twitter, but we all have a few weeks to decide whether we vote with our wallets, or our feet. What about you – will YOU stay with Twitter now that you’ll have to pay?

Five Predictions For Twitter In 2010

Twitter has come a long, long way in 2009, maturing from a simple status updating service to a fully-fledged news broadcasting system that is as pivotal and informative to the global media as it is to the general public. The social network is now arguably the hottest thing on the internet as we move into the heady days of 2010.

As any network grows, it’s forced to change and adapt. Here are five predictions I’m making that we will see on Twitter in 2010.

Twitter Will Start To Become Profitable

Twitter Will Start To Become Profitable In 2010Twitter’s deals with Microsoft and Google in 2009 mean that a good chunk of money is finally hitting their bank accounts. Other features they’ll add in 2010, including premium accounts for businesses (see below), improved metrics and a deeper (and billable) integration into television and other mainstream media, will ensure the pot never runs dry.

It won’t be huge in 2010, but I would expect $150-250m in profit by the end of the year.

(If they’re not making at least $100m in clear profit, my gut tells me they’ll be bought.)

The Difference Between Media And Social Media Will Continue To Blur

The Difference Between Media And Social Media Will Continue To BlurI’ve written about this in some detail before, and we already saw significant evidence of this in 2009, but as the newspaper industry is forced to adapt a ‘live or die’ attitude to survive the difference between old and social media will blur to a point of invisibility. Already many major newspapers (The Telepgraph, New York Times, The Guardian and, yes, amazingly, The Daily Mail) are seeing and capitalising on the value of internet-appealing editorials and reportage, be that in the form of using Twitter (and other networks) to break and share news first, or through good old-fashioned link bait.

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10 Cool Things YOU Can Do Today To Improve Twitter For Tomorrow

It’s early Monday morning. You’re tired after a weekend that was long on thrills but short on recovery. You log on to Twitter, but you just don’t have the energy. What to do, what to do?

Fear not: here are ten things you can do on Twitter today – or any day – that will massively improve your experience on the network.

  1. Help your friends understand how to use Twitter. Email them the link to my Twitter 101 tutorials, or if they’re already on Twitter, hook them up with tips to help newcomers hit the ground running.
  2. Learn how to defend yourself from spammers, trolls and automated direct messages.
  3. Understand why everybody needs a follow policy – eliminate those phony followers.
  4. Want to get more retweets? Memorise your retweet number (and sharpen your pencil)!
  5. Take a minute to fill in the description box on your Twitter lists – it really does make the feature significantly richer and lists with descriptions are going to attract more followers. (And yes – I mean all of your lists!)
  6. Fight Club celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier this week – find out what Tyler Durden can teach you about Twitter
  7. Start a conversation with a total stranger – that’s what puts the social in ‘social media’.
  8. Play around with the new retweet mechanism – while it’s not currently as good as the organic and original RT@ function, it’s here to stay, and will come with improvements in the future (including edits).
  9. Take a Twitter poll! For example, how do you rate Twitter’s technical support? Would you pay $1 a month to access Twitter? How many celebrities to do you follow? What reasons do you need to block somebody? What kind of avatar do you like to see?
  10. Having problems? Learn how you can submit a help ticket to Twitter.

BONUS: please, please, please – don’t be a metweeter.

What are you waiting for? Get stuck in!

A Viable Business Plan For Twitter: Keep An Eye On Spotify

My recent article that asked readers how they would react to Twitter announcing a one dollar per month subscription rate raised many interesting responses and questions. At the time of writing, about 63% of voters said they would pay this low subscription rate for a better, more professional service, which for Twitter is, I think, encouraging.

Many readers felt that Twitter would be better if they implemented a premium subscription service on top of the existing free platform. Those who subscribed could receive additional features and tools, such as

  • A bigger share of the API
  • Spam filters
  • A better personal message system
  • A way to edit posted tweets

and more. By investing directly into Twitter, we’d be endorsing our confidence in the future of the system, and as a result Twitter could remain independent – the importance of which should not be underestimated – because of the monthly revenue stream.

You’d sign up with a credit card, or pay via system such as Pay Offline. This would allow Twitter to verify everybody with a premium account, and not just celebrities. It would also add credibility to these accounts, because they would be accountable through their lack of anonymity. (You could still tweet under an alias, but because your account had been verified other users would have confidence that you were a real person saying real things.)

A one-time, free trial would be available to those who wanted to taste the premium service, perhaps over 14 days.

Businesses who have many of their employees on Twitter could buy a license, which allowed them to have X accounts (and was perhaps invoiced). Individuals could do this, too. This would be competitively priced, but perhaps businesses would pay a little more, and in return Twitter would group these accounts together in some way.

Otherwise, it would be one credit card per account. This would further eat into the spam problem on Twitter, which mostly exists because it’s easy and free to set up a disposable email address, and therefore easy and free to set up a disposable Twitter account.

And what about those who didn’t want to pay? For these guys (of which I’m sure there would be many), I think Twitter needs to look closely at Spotify‘s business model, and how well their premium subscriptions take off.

Spotify has about six million songs on their database, all of which you can access for free. The catch? You have to listen to the occasional advertisement.

Or, you can pay 99 pence for a one-day, advert-free pass (which is fantastic for parties). Or you can pay £9.99 per month, and have full access to Spotify’s premium service, which includes the much-hyped and possibly game-changing mobile access, better sound quality, exclusive access to pre-releases, and absolutely no ads whatsoever.

Much has been made about advertising within Twitter, but the size restrictions on a tweet means that anything punched into there is going to look awkward and feel intrusive. Much better for ads to appear within timelines. I think Twitter could copy Spotify’s model and send one advertisement every 25 tweets (for example) to those who wish to use the service for free.

It might look a bit like this:

A Viable Business Plan For Twitter: Keep An Eye On Spotify

(ÃœberTwitter does this now, but only ÃœberTwitter users see the adverts.)

These ads would push out to all the Twitter clients, too, and would work exactly like Google Adwords, scanning your Twitter bio, the things you typically tweet about, trending topics, and the tweets within your timeline, and be as relevant as possible. The goal is, after all, for you to click on them.

Delivering ads based on trending topics alone could be a hugely successful – after all, they are trending for a reason – although Twitter would need to work harder to stop spammers gaming the trending topics feature.

Every 25 tweets might be too often, or it might not be often enough. It might have to be impressions per hour. A little experimentation is in order. Some coding wizardry would also need to be implemented so that ads didn’t just scroll off your screen if you’re following a gazillion people.

Don’t like the ads? Pay your dollar, or whatever rate Twitter decides is fair.

This gives us two monetisation streams for Twitter.

  1. Subscriptions, and
  2. Advertisements

As with everything else in life, more subs means you can sell more ads. And business needn’t worry too much about those paying customers, because an awful lot of people, and all newcomers, would choose to access the service for free.

I’d also like to see Twitter incorporate Reddit and Facebook’s stance on adverts and let you vote them up or down accordingly, querying your reasons why for the latter. This would further improve the quality of the ads that you see.

And if you decided you no longer wished to pay (or couldn’t pay), you simply dropped back to the free version of Twitter, and lost the extra features. All your tweets, etc, would be unaffected.

All of this means that everybody wins. Twitter wins, because they have a viable business model and two income streams. The users win, because Twitter could remain independent and continue to add features and grow. The power-users win, because they get to pay for a bigger slice of the pie and better stuff. And the casual user wins, because they can continue to access Twitter for the asking price of just a few adverts per day.

If Spotify really takes off, and there’s every indication that it will, Twitter doesn’t need to look much further for a very workable and network-acceptable business plan. It’s all right there, happening in front of our eyes.

I don’t see much of a downside. You?

POLL: Twitter To Charge YOU $1/month For Access. Now What?

I loosely made this point over at Chris Brogan’s blog a few moments ago in an excellent article he has written about the audacity of free – that is, how increasingly people are objecting to having to pay for things in an online world.

A while back I polled my readers about whether they’d ever pay for Twitter. As it stands, only about 25% said that they would.

This got me thinking.

If tomorrow you logged on to Twitter and were suddenly informed that it was now a premium service that was charging $1/month (ongoing) or $10/year to access the service, how would you react? Let’s say you had 30 days to make-up your mind and/or backup your stuff. After that, your account was unavailable – unless you paid.

For me, I’d gladly pay. Twitter is easily worth $1/month to me. I wouldn’t think twice about it. Twitter has an estimated 25 million users, and if everybody saw things like I do that would mean quarter-of-a-billion dollars of revenue per annum. Sure, I’d like to see that money invested back into Twitter – and by that I don’t mean Ferraris for Biz and the gang – but if it would mean the service could move strongly onwards and upwards, I’d be 100% behind it.

The pros of paying for a social network:

  • Even at a low rate like $1/month, overnight you’d remove 99% of the spammers, trolls, bots, stalkers and good old-fashioned weirdos
  • Because you’re paying for a service using a credit card, Twitter can easily verify you’re a real person. No more anonymity, and the perils that it brings
  • Twitter can re-invest that subscription rate into a world-class professional network, and importantly
  • It could remain independent

The cons:

  • It cost you $1

Really, I see very little downside. But I’m not the norm. As Chris points out in his piece, many object to paying for anything, especially if they’re used to it being free.

So, here’s my question.

Once you’ve voted, please share your thoughts in the comments area below.

PS. To clarify, Twitter hasn’t made this announcement. I’m just curious how you’d react if they did.

Would You Pay For Twitter?

Would You Pay For Twitter?Over at The New Yorker there’s an excellent review today of a new book entitled, Free: The Future Of A Radical Price. The article makes some worthy points about the ‘value’ of free in light of the strong endorsement made by the book’s author and is a recommended read. (Seth Godin also recently shared his thoughts.)

I really like the observation that “free is just another price”. Twitter, of course, is a free product. It’s not too radical a proposition to suggest that if Twitter had carried a service fee from day one I almost certainly wouldn’t be writing about it now.

But Twitter needs money, and right now the business plan isn’t exactly forthcoming. One way for the platform to generate some much-needed revenue would be to charge for a premium version of the service. This would be entirely opt-in, but ‘pro-Twitter’ users might receive extras such as

  • A bigger share of Twitter’s API
  • A 30-second edit window for tweets
  • A once-daily email digest of new followers
  • Block management
  • Better personal messaging capabilities
  • Spam filters
  • 24/7 technical support

and so on. This would be billed monthly and would carry a nominal price – maybe $9.99/month. Maybe $4.99. If you cancelled your subscription or your cheque bounced, Twitter dropped you back down to the ‘basic’ version of the service. Nothing was lost except your ability to tap into those extra features.

For everybody who didn’t want to pay, Twitter would simply carry on as is; they wouldn’t see any difference in the network at all, beyond Twitter’s standard platform updates. This is critical – there cannot be an obvious void on the front-end of Twitter (the stream) that in any way penalises the non-payer.

There will be many features that I haven’t mentioned that are important to you. That’s how I would like you to think about the question in this poll – if Twitter introduced a premium service that had the extra features you wanted – you is italicised because that’s the key part – would you pay for it? This is a simple yes/no game – you’d either pay for these extras, or you’d never pay, no matter what goodies came with a premium Twitter account.

Please feel free to expand on your answer in the comments area. In fact, I really encourage it – I’m very curious as to whether this could ever be a viable business model for Twitter.

Me? I’d be happy to pay a small monthly fee. It’s not unusual for free online services to carry a ‘pro’ alternative and I think it would be a great way for Twitter to generate some of that essential cash. But different people have different needs, and I wonder if there are enough of ‘me’ out there to make this work.

UPDATE: I’m going to add any interesting feature suggestions to my list as and when they’re made.

All Jokes Aside, Does Twitter Need To Go Pro?

Early this morning the Twittersphere was all a flutter with news that the social network was about to unveil new premium-level accounts for high-end users. This change to the service would come in four tiers: Sparrow ($5/month, 145-character limit), Dove ($15/month, 160-character limit, random celebrity follower, free t-shirt), Owl ($50/month, 250-character limit, two celebrity followers, 30 minutes of suggested list advertising) and the desirable Eagle ($250/month, 500-character limit, 1000 free random followers, three celebrities, a Twitter concierge for tweeting while you’re asleep, plus a to-die-for ‘Fail Whale’ tuxedo.)

As Evan Williams, the co-founder of Twitter said, “Celebrities and large corporations have begun flocking to Twitter for their social media needs, and growth has accelerated.  Many users have expressed willingness to pay for accounts, and now we give them that opportunity.”

Except he didn’t. The article was a joke, but that didn’t stop it being endlessly re-tweeted and becoming a meme in itself. The news was broken by the BBSpot website, which has been called “the world’s greatest tech humour site” by The Register. Few people re-tweeting the article seemed interested in checking their ‘about’ page. I re-tweeted the article myself, but mentioned it was a joke within my tweet. It didn’t matter. It all went a bit insane for a minute.

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