During this historic week there will be many pressing issues for the new administration: The Economy, Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and Hamas, Global Warming, Energy, Education, Social Security, Health, and lastly Twitter.
Billions are being given to GM to build more car&trucks that the public really no longer wants. For a fraction of that investment we could save Twitter and the worlds premier micro-blogging network.
To Twitters credit they have finally hired a business development person. A good step in figuring out the revenue side of their equation. However, here is my New Year’s gift to Twitter.
Twitter has a large following and seems to have no way to make money, or does it?
One of my colleagues seems to have broken the revenue code for Twitter. Since she asked that I protect her identity I will call her “Mickey”. Mickey has been blogging with Twitter for a couple of years. Her Tweets have a modest number of followers: perhaps a couple of co-workers, friends, relatives and a few random lurkers. What was valuable about Mickey’s Twitter existence was her Twitter name. It seems that a company that wanted to broadcast their product messages on Twitter desired Mickey’s Twitter name. Similar to those who made money by domain sitting on website names, there is actually a real economy in Twitter names!
Mickey and this company negotiated a settlement with real cash exchanging hands.
A recent article in Venture Beat revealed that 93 of the top 100 brands do not own their own Twitter brand names. Naturally this “opportunity” is not unique to Twitter. Clearly the same economy exists at Facebook, MySpace and Bebo.
All of these social networks have become large transmission networks for targeted content and thus have an obvious commercial value.
A big difference between Internet domain names and the private namespaces of social networks is that they are privately owned and reserved by the owners of the SN. The Internet has the Uniform Dispute Resolution Mechanism, while there is no such mechanism for Social Networks. These networks operate within the normal commercial guidelines of any business and are thus subject to trademark and copyright laws within the jurisdictions of their business. Namespaces for Social Networks are in a big gray area right now.
In the Twitter terms and conditions they state:
“We reserve the right to reclaim usernames on behalf of businesses or individuals that hold legal claim or trademark on those usernames.”
Now back to Mickey.
Why should Twitter allow their subscribers to barter usernames and not profit from the network that they own?
Here are my two suggestions for Twitters Commercial Business Model.
First, Twitter should recover all trade names for companies that are owned by individuals who are speculators and not official company officials. (At least Mickey got her payment!) This move would signal that Twitter is serious about the business use of their network. Any company that wants to do business on Twitter and capitalize from their valuable network should have to pay a direct fixed monthly fee to Twitter. In addition, a variable monthly fee can be gained based on number of Tweets and followers. These businesses would pay for access to millions of subscribers, just like advertisers pay for television ads.
Second, Twitter should build a business-matching engine. This feature would suggest that users follow certain commercial channels based on their Tweets, interests and other fans and followers.
These suggestions are not going to garner 100’s of millions for Twitter, but they are the prerequisite to larger advertising and subscription models.
If they follow some of these ideas, Prsident Obama can spend more money for the bailouts of CitiGroup, Ford and GM.