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I know how Twitter can make Billions – seriously

This is an usually long post for me so if you prefer to see images of my pug Simon skip this one… If you are here to learn what could be done to solve Twitter’s billion dollar problem… grab a coffee and take a seat, if interested. I have visuals for those who can’t read long articles. I disagree with this.

With all the tech bubble coverage everyone knows that Twitter needs to find a true business model other than their promotional campaigns and selling data access to the big boys of Web Search. I have been watching Twitter for close to 5 years and I think I understand Twitter just as well as anyone. I may not have much of a following and my site has only been on techmeme once before, but I still think my thoughts can add value to tech news blather or maybe not.

Moving along… I think about Twitter a lot, but unlike most webpreneurs, developers and tech bloggers, I think about things that are anything but obvious.  To me, obvious is boring. Unfortunately, if something isn’t obvious it makes people think; and we all know people are too busy to think about things that are not black and white.

Until a few weeks ago, I like many others thought it would be impossible to monetize Twitter at scale if they didn’t add features around “the stream,” but I was wrong. Features would just be useful. Can you imagine if companies could build out a rich profile on Twitter? I think Coca Cola has a Twitter profile for just about every product line so why not give them the option of listing all profiles on their main profile @coca_cola? The main @coca_cola stream could be an aggregated stream that combines all their brands under under one roof. Or maybe Twitter could have a vertical product like a 140 character system status tool. Every website would use this for $6 per month. Then users could add all services they use or services they run to their feature rich profile dashboards. Simple things like this would bring Twitter to another level much like enhacements helped Facebook transform and commercialize itself.  But first let’s focus on creating an ad platform that is will scale, one that is self serving so you don’t have to pitch Madison Avenue.

Unusual Company

Twitter is an unusual company. They have traction, buzz, hundreds of millions of venture money and is admired by many. However, there is something about Twitter that I do not understand. Why does the relationship between the founders remind me of an 80’s rock band minus the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll? Can they no longer work together? I find it strange that one of the founders is off building a new company and the other two founders are hardly seen at the office. Maybe this is the reason why Twitter can’t find their mojo. Perhaps the recent news might help them bring it backJack. Can you be involved with two companies full time? If I was one of their many investors, I would want the team I invested in to be eating, sleeping and living product development… or does this not matter anymore because the investors will see a return regardless. Where’s the focus? If the founding team isn’t hungry enough to stay at work until midnight, who is? The dick-bar guy? I’m not knocking him… he’s a good guy to have around. But where’s the passion? Is this what happens when a company is valued in the secondary market for billions before they generate significant revenue?

I know very little about the relationship between the founders, however, I do know they have expressed interest in creating a new advertising model and this excites me. I love solving complex problems like this and I don’t blame them for wanting to create a new type of advertising – and they should! If you want to be a social media juggernaut you cannot rely on other services to help you generate revenue. Twitter has rejected the notion of using contextual ads because it’s not “interesting” to them and since 2010, they have been searching for a revenue model in a test tube. They headed down the revenue brick road with @earlybird offers, but this was just an experiment to learn how they could help businesses on their platform. Then they introduced Promoted Tweets, Trends and Accounts but it doesn’t seem like these three programs will scale since campaigns start at $5,000 per month – ouch. Google’s Adwords work because anyone who has advertising dollars to spend can participate. The plan I am about to describe does the same.

Think outside the box.

In order to follow what I am saying you will need to think a little outside the box.  If you are a boring individual try to think creatively for 10 minutes. To put my thoughts in perspective… I am coming at this by believing Twitter could easily be a “relevant branding” play with a competitive and lucrative business model just like Adwords and Adsense are to Google. I stay awake at night thinking about these types of problems. Needless to say, I am very excited about what is in my head. I have very detailed thoughts on how what I am about to discuss would work but I will just jot down the basics. If Twitter takes my model seriously I’d love to join the flock to work on this platform… I hear they are looking to fill an executive product position, or they can do as Zuckerberg likes to do… take the concepts of others and make them his own. Ziiiiiiiing!

The dilemma

Twitter needs to connect users to companies that are important to them and they also need to connect companies to users. This isn’t easy because it needs to be done organically. Although there is a fine line between being organic and pissing off users, I think I have figured out a way to make it work… Allow “interesting tweets” to be sponsored after they are published and give the person who tweeted a share of the campaign. Web publishers get paid by Google if they run relevant ads against their content, so why can’t Twitter pay those who create interesting tweets that advertisers want to run relevant branding against? Say what?  Just keep reading…  Don’t worry, I have images for those who can’t understand comprehend greatest in-the-making.

Relevant watermark brilliance #Genius

I am going to discuss not one, but two killer revenue possibilities for Twitter. One is for businesses and the other is for media partnerships. Both will generate significant revenue and pretty much kick ass.

Every company looking to “brand” will have a “Twitter Business Account” that holds their favorite corporate credit card. Then they will select competitive Key Tweet Words (words within a tweet). Let’s keep things simple and say the Coca Cola brand has $100 to spend (Yes, I am aware they spent $120,000 during a 24 hour period on Twitter.) for all of their twitter brand accounts: @CocaColaCo @DietCokeUS @CokeZero @Odwalla… they have too many drink products on Twitter to list.

Now that we have established each company will have a “Twitter Business Account.” Every active user with active followers will have an account equipped with a shiny Piggy “Birdy Bank” so they can get paid if their Tweets end up getting sponsored. Let’s face it, Twitter accounts run by companies suck. I guarantee a clever tweet that gets sponsored will get retweeted way more than the any Promoted Tweet that is running right now.  Tweets by companies don’t have anything interesting, witty or funny to say. But regular users do. Wouldn’t you like your company logo to show up on a tweet that gets retweeted 100 times in a relevant way? Brilliant! Keep reading and see my images.

Users will tweet as they normally do just like this brilliant person below ;). Keep this tweet in mind as you read on…


Once tweeted; Twitter’s system picks up on the users tweet and inserts a relevant brand advertisement selected from the highest keyword/phrase bidder.  Not all tweets will be monetized just the tweets that are worthy. Users will need to fit the bill as well in order to have their tweets sponsored.  There is so much that could be done that I cannot even begin to list all the creative possibilities so I have created a few examples. Please excuse my shitty graphic design. All that’s needed is a killer designer who  can produce high quality small graphics.

The users would get paid for tweets. #Genius

Once the advertisement for Odwalla, Expedia, Monk’s Kettle or iTunes/Amazon MP3 is inserted into the fresh tweet, Twitter would automatically deduct the bid amount for the inserted ad. In this case we will say it will cost Coca Cola $5 bucks. The amount for the ad insertion will be much like Adwords – based competitive the keyword bidding. Twitter takes that $5 and then pays the user who posted that tweet $1 and Twitter keeps $4. Now here’s where things get very interesting.

When a sponsored tweet gets retweeted. #Genius

If the sponsored tweet get’s retweeted and reaches a crazy number of eyeballs then the advertiser pays more based on CPM ($x amount for every 1000 eye balls) and they could work in CPE (Cost Per Engagement) So the initial $5 insertion fee could quickly become a $5000 campaign and the person who is lucky enough to have the sponsored tweet retweeted will get paid more ontop of that initial payment of $1 discussed above.  If the tweet is retweeted to 100,000 users at $2 CPM we are talking about a $2,000 targeted campaign. If the user makes $50 off one tweet I think they will be more than happy and won’t mind if some tweets are monetized. Nobody seems to complain when Google shows 11 ads against 10 organic search results on a single page. This might also encourage users to create interesting, funny or unique tweets.  Preventing abuse would be a task but all money making systems need protective algorithms in place.  The amount spent and paid out would be weighed by a bunch of factors like impact or influence. They will need to make sure tweets are not money driven but I do not think this will be a big concern since the tweet will always come before the sponsorship. The goal is to not change user behavior, give sponsors a way to reach eye balls and give Twitter a sustainable and interesting advertising model.  #Genius

Brilliant Partnerships. Media companies… free ride no more.  #Genius

Before you say this is a crazy idea that will never work go read the company mission before judging  at Obvious.com.

“Our goal is to create interesting things that matter to the world—and a great place for creative, smart people to work.”

Do you think I am creative or just insane crazy?





{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Will

    Put money in front of users and they def won’t care about sponsorships. Love it.

  • Damin

    That is the longest post I have ever read. I am down with every point you make. If I was compensated I wouldn’t mind if they ran a relevant ad on my tweet.

  • Alex

    I have heard a lot of ideas on this topic but this is by far the best. A good tweet design that blends with the site would be critical. The tweet before sponsorship is a great idea and compensating tweeters is genius. Makes total sense if you compare each tweet to web content produced by a publisher.

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