The Lowdown on Promoted Tweets – Part II


Last week I spoke about Twitter giving away ‘my (and your and our)’ Twitter to corporate giants through Promoted Tweets (PTs). I literally ranted about the feeling of intrusion that PTs have on my timeline and search queries. That being said however, Twitter is still a business and as such, profits have to be made to keep the entity alive. So the question then is, are PTs the best way to monetize Twitter?


CNET’s Dan Farber yonks ago suggested that Twitter become a paid-for service at US$1 (approx ZAR8) per month. Making tweeting a paid for service was going to be very easy to make money. At US$1 per month, each user would pay US$12 (approx ZAR96) per year and at 100 million users, that’s US$1.2 billion (approx ZAR9.6 billion) revenue annually. For the long term however, this was not going to be a sustainable model for both Twitter the business and Twitter the platform. The service would have been affordable for the bunch of New Yorkers and Londoners and Joburg – the users in large metropolitan areas. What about the Tunisians and the Indonesians and Kenyans and Philippinos, and many other nations worldwide where people live on less than US$1 per day? A paid for Twitter service would have been an unfavourable business model in the long term. Enter, the Promoted Tweets.

Like Google and Facebook, Twitter has the capacity to give advertisers the opportunity to be accessed by and to access consumers. How to do it within the working Twitter social model is what was going to make a difference between success and failure. With its winning consumer centred model, users are both content creators who market and an audience at whom marketing is targeted. Twitter’s egalitarian setup is what makes it work. The challenge Twitter had was to find a means to monetize that was in keeping with the current social model the platform assumes. PTs, pioneered by Twitter CEO Dick Costollo settled at a cost of US$120,000 for a brand’s PTs to show up on timelines for a whole day. That is a lot of revenue to be racked in, hence the US$1 billion+ net earnings projection for 2013. Was this however the right way to monetize, or should Twitter have looked to other possibilities?


Geo-tagging/ Location based apps


There is a lot to be harvested from location based apps and geo-tagging capabilities of mobile apps. Twitter has been seamlessly added to such apps as 4Squared. When one checks in on 4Squared, this check in can be publicized through Twitter by automatically sending a tweet. There is an opportunity there to bring in advertisers around that particular location. This could be in the form of promotions, other locations of similar interest close to the check in, activities and discounts. Here brands have a better chance of  attracting people that are not only close by to their locations but also people who are interested in their service offering.



Twitter could also have capitalised with formalizing any recruitment opportunities that occur on the platform. This could have been done through giving an opportunity to recruiters to formally advertise recruitment opportunities to job seekers. Through analysing timelines and ascertaining Twitter users interested in getting ahead career-wise, advertisers, in this case recruiters, can reach the right people through recruitment advertising. This, infact is more than just advertising, it is connecting jobs with the right job seekers.


Twitter has a host of data that many brands are clamouring to get. Although there are service offerings, free and paid-for that offer some analytics from Twitter, if Twitter packaged the user data they have and sold it to big brands, they could trump any competitor that offers Twitter data analytics. Data on consumers is fodder for big brands, for market research companies and even for academic institutions. To date, data generated by Twitter exceeds Raffi Krikorian’s reported 8TB per day in 2010. With the number of subscribers on Twitter having more than trebled to date, we are looking at a lot more data in Twitter’s hands. Big brands would outbid each other for this data if it was made readily available. This could probably have been the easiest and least intrusive means of monetizing that Twitter could have employed.



Although PTs work within the social structure of Twitter, they do so rudely. It’s like having a conversation with your friend and this annoying person keeps barging in and screaming at you, on a megaphone nogal! PTs are annoying and Twitter could easily have implemented other monetizing schemes that seamlessly work into Twitter’s social model. So here am I, still looking for an iPhone or iPad app that does not have Promoted Tweets. Anyone out there know one?