Twitter looks at ways to make money

23 June 2009

SAN FRANCISCO: Twitter, the rapidly-growing "microblogging" portal, is aiming to establish how best to monetise its website over the course of this year, and could begin charging companies for a range of services, co-founder Biz Stone says.

Speaking at a "Tweet-Up" held at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, Stone argued the sort of "real time" communications Twitter allows between brands and consumers will be at the heart of its revenue-generating efforts.

The possible initiatives currently under consideration include charging companies for "official" accounts, so that users tracking such posts know they come from an authentic source.

Additionally, Twitter could provide statistics and data to brands showing the impact their "tweets" were having, and offer "multiple accounts" to businesses with several different units.

"The idea is if they are getting value out of Twitter then we could add more value to what they are doing and we could get some revenue," Stone said.

"We think we'll get to something this year, however simple, that shows we're making some money."

Establishing a profitable organisation would have the added benefit of sending "out a signal that we're building a company of enduring value," he added.

It would also encourage the development of a broad variety of "applications" that could be downloaded by visitors to Twitter, ultimately enhancing what companies and consumers can achieve on the site.

Dell, the world's second-largest computer manufacturer, recently reported that it has made some $2 million (€1.4m; £1.2m) worth of sales on Twitter in the last 12 months.

JetBlue, the airline, and Whole Foods, the natural and organic food manufacturer, are among other high-profile corporate users of the service.

According to Stone, initially "we focused too much on tweets" in order to try and encourage its audience to ask "What the hell is a tweet?"

However, the social media site's proposition to brands has now changed to showing them "everything people are saying about your product," and giving them the chance to respond.

While Stone said the "social messaging utility" site is not for sale, he did admit that "there's a sea of companies we'd like to complement and help."

Data sourced from CNN Money/Bloomberg; additional content by WARC staff