‘Twittering’ used to be the poetic sound of little birds in the garden in springtime.
These days, we’ve all lost interest in the birds and logged on to do our own ‘twittering’ on microblogging site Twitter.com.
Whether you love or hate Twitter, it’s hard to deny the momentum it is gathering, with users snowballing to 55 million as of February 2009. It’s the blogging site for busy people.
What is Twitter, anyway?
To all those Twit-free surfers out there, Twitter is a website which allows you to update the world on your every move, within the space of 140 characters, from getting trapped in a lift (Stephen Fry) to giving birth at home (Erykah Badu).
When you write a message it’s called a ‘tweet’ and will be sent to all your ‘followers’. And you can communicate with, and keep track of, all those you are ‘following’. Sign up and your mum will know what you’re having for tea, and your mates will know when you’re leaving for the party.
In addition, Twitter Search allows you to find out what twitterers are tweeting about in relation to your chosen subject.
Crucially (in atomic’s view), as a Twitter user you can follow the day-to-day actions, irritations and words of wisdom of some very famous people. The success of Twitter has been heavily influenced by celebrities such as Jonathan Ross and Stephen Fry, both of whom recently extolled the virtues of the site on TV.
How could Twitter possibly make any money?
The question on everyone’s lips is: how will Twitter capitalise on their success? They could take a leaf out of their Japanese sister site and start to offer advertising. They could also charge companies to connect with their customers (perhaps on a ‘pay-per-tweet’ basis!).
Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said recently that businesses were using Twitter to engage with consumers, and that introducing a fee for corporate use could be one way of monetising the service.
One thing’s for certain – the old Google mindset of ‘get users first – monetize them later’, is certainly easier when you’re talking about a search engine rather than facilitating the odd ‘tweet’.
Behavioural targeting – a potential fit for Twitter
The behavioral targeting model would suggest that whilst users engage in regular twittering, they are simultaneously giving away some quite personal - and arguably targetable – information about themselves, their actions and interests.
Could Twitter leverage this information to deliver highly targeted ads to users? When Stephen Fry is next stuck in a lift – will he be served a free trial to a ‘brain trainer’ iPhone game? Or perhaps this level of advanced targeting will prove just a little too spooky, even for a hyperintelligent, gadget loving national treasure in a lift.