Would Twitter Turn to Paid Profiles For Businesses?

    November 7, 2008
    Chris Crum

TwitterPeople always want to know how Twitter will make money, and at the Web 2.0 Summit, CEO Evan Williams hinted at the commercial value of the service. But that doesn’t mean advertising exactly. Contentinople quotes Williams:

"Our model isn’t advertising per se," said Williams. "Advertising is more and more a difficult proposition. We’re going to insert a message. Twitter’s model is quite different. There is commercial information, but it is entirely opt-in. If they don’t want it they won’t receive it. We could put advertising in the content, but I don’t think we’re going to do that."

Caronline McCarthy quotes him as saying that Twitter can "charge the people who want to use that communication channel commercially." First of all, keep in mind that none of this is official right now, and speculation is all we really have to go on, but it sounds like we’re talking about sponsored profiles. So does this mean that companies would have to pay for the type of thing CareerBuilder is doing?

Would such a model be worth it to companies? It could be a reasonable marketing tool considering that people would have to opt-in to follow these sponsors, but would it lead to significant enough results for companies to use Twitter over other social networks where they can use profiles for free? If such a system proved efficient, would other social networks initiate similar models? Now that would turn social media marketing on its ear.

Williams’s comments really create more questions than answers, but it is certainly interesting to know that Twitter is thinking along these lines at all. It will be something to keep an eye on.

Update: Rafe Needleman has a thought-provoking look at 11 possible business models for Twitter. They range from selling advertising to selling plush "failwhales".