The issue of monetization should be near and dear to the hearts of anyone who loves a certain social media platform. If you are taking the time to actually read a blog about social media, you likely already understand the value social media has to you and perhaps your business.
One of the reasons that I love Twitter is that I choose who to follow and thus I choose who I give attention to. If a product or person is interesting or useful, I opt in to giving that brand or person my attention.
But how does Twitter, the company itself, make money? The application is so big now and the evaluations of what the company are worth are so high (5, 7, 10 or even 20 billion), that Twitter has to be able to find a way to make a significant profit off of its users.
Twitter’s new iPhone app, is providing us, Twitter users, with a view into the future of what Twitter will be. And I am concerned it will become too commerical.
Most of the controversy about the new app is a result of the “Quick Bar” that Twitter installed across the top of the app this past week. It is billed as being useful because, as Twitter puts it, “it shows trends and other important things.” Most people just found it annoying.
In response, Twitter made it so the this “Quick Bar” only appeared at the top of the the application and didn’t sit on top of all the user’s Tweets as they scroll.
This doesn’t seem like a big deal either way, so why does it matter for the future of Twitter?
It matters, because much of Twitter’s early revenue has come from promoted trends, promoted tweets and promoted accounts.
In the past, these “ads” haven’t seen so noticable as to be distracting. They are usually highlighted with a yellow “Promoted” icon, that while catching the eye, isn’t that intrusive. I personally don’t find trends that interesting, whether promoted or not, so I rarely look at them. But when I do, I usually see a movie, TV show or some event specific campaign by a brand. If this is all it took for Twitter to make money, I would be fine with it, but it won’t be enough to achieve these billion dollar evaluations that Twitter is currently receiving.
The Quick Bar highlights promoted trends in a way that is more intrusive, and it forshadows the introducation of actually advertising tweets into our timeline.
This spring, I know it is scary, but ads will start to show up in your timeline.
And while the Quick Bar might affect early adoptors who rushed to get the newest Twitter app, actual ads showing up in the timeline, will affect everyone who uses the service, no matter what app or platform they use.
I am not happy about having ads show up in the timeline, but I am willing to live with it, if it doesn’t decrease my user experience too much and if it allows Twitter to keep going.
How Twitter walks this fine line is important to millions of users who have given their attention over to Twitter and who will have to decide, as ads start to become part of everyday use, if that attention is warranted.