Twitter’s online growth has exploded last year. It is becoming more popularized with news organizations, celebrities, businesses and users. With the increase of users can Twitter’s existing business model be sustainable? Can it be monetized? This article from Wharton explained how the Twitter website increased its user base from 475,000 in February 2008 to over 7 million in February 2009.
Has this venture been monetizable? It has not been so far. Some of Wharton’s professors have argued that the service can be replicated by rivals such as Facebook, and question whether it is simply a fad (e.g. ICQ, Friendster and MySpace).
Part of its draw for marketers and celebrities is the ability to tap into conversations real-time, providing instant online commentary for an offline event and to join in conversations with consumers. From a user standpoint, it is easy to track like-minded people, friends and celebrities. Can data mining be used as a revenue model? The social networks on twitter tend to be less meaningful than on Facebook or even MySpace, and thus, the information would be less value to marketers. Facebook is a platform that contains more personal information about the user such as the conversations that surround the user’s offline and online activities (e.g. photo albums, interactive quizzes, etc.).
With the large increase in users, could Twitter charge for premium services such as being able to input more than 140 characters or even charging for advanced search options for twitter search? There needs to be a balance between growth and earning profits. Currently, the demographics for twitter are mostly with Generation X (people born between 1964 and 1979). Compare that to Facebook, where much of the growth was with Generation Y (people born between 1980 to 1995), and it expanded to other age groups. This clearly illustrates that Twitter’s growth maybe stunted.
I think there is money to be made with the development of the APIs. As Twitter’s base expands, more developers will want to develop more applications for it. As this occurs, the additional features will attract more users. Once a critical mass is reached, Twitter can start to charge developers for making APIs on their platform.
What do you think? Can you think of possible areas that Twitter can be monetizable? Or do you think it is simply a fad?