In the four years of its existence, Twitter has been better known for its rapid growth and adoption amongst celebrities rather than for its business success. Talk about revenue models and you’ll be greeted with radio silence. Someone even made a tongue-in-cheek remark that the $170 million that they raised through venture capitalists was their revenue model!
When Twitter made announcement of its Promoted Tweets concept, it had a semblance of a revenue model. Its earlier revenue model was based on selling its content to search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo! to display real-time search results. Thankfully, Twitter stayed away from plain vanilla banner advertising or installing Google Adwords.
Now, let us get back to Promoted Tweets. What is it? It’s a new advertising programme that will show contextually-relevant tweets based on the search keywords in Twitter’s search page. Twitter will test run this new advertising programme in its search page and based on the response, will move this to user’s regular tweet streams. As an extension, it will also start syndicating Promoted Tweets to Twitter clients like TweetDeck, Twhirl and TwitterBerry.
This looks suspiciously close to Google’s super successful contextual advertising model, AdSense. Where they differ from Google’s AdSense is that instead of showing ‘ads’, they will be showing a tweet from the advertiser. These tweets will not be separated out in a different section the way Google does it for sponsored search results on the right side of the page. Instead, the Twitter Promoted Tweets will be placed on top of the search results. A user will know it’s a paid tweet when he moves the mouse over the tweet to reveal a yellow background.
I would have preferred a better distinction of the Promoted Tweets without any user intervention. Promoted Tweets don’t yet appear for Indian users and so, I can’t verify if they really differentiate paid tweets from the natural search results by using the word ‘promoted’. The good thing, though, is that Twitter has promised that they will display only one promoted tweet for a particular search result. The promoted tweets will behave just like a normal tweet. Meaning that the tweet can be replied to, retweeted or bookmarked.
So, how does the Promoted Tweet work? Advertisers will bid for keywords to have their tweets appear on the search results, much like how Google AdSense works. The higher an advertiser pays for a particular keyword, the greater are the chances of its tweets appearing on search results.
What I really like about this model is a system Twitter has introduced called the Resonance Score. Twitter considers nine factors that are based on how effective the tweet behaves with respect to engagement with users. This means that if a particular promoted tweet does not get retweeted or bookmarked enough, it will slowly get pushed out of the system. In other words, if the tweet is not popular, it will be killed. This forces the advertiser not to treat the tweets lightly. Just because they have paid for it does not mean they can publish whatever advertising message they want to. This forces them to be creative.
Not surprisingly, the companies that have proactively been using Twitter from the beginning are the ones who are the first to try out the Promoted Tweets concept. The companies that are trying out are Sony Pictures, Virgin America, Starbucks, Red Bull and Best Buy. I have not heard of any Indian businesses that have tried it yet, but I won’t be surprised if the first few companies are FastTrack, Cleartrip and Club Mahindra.
There are some detractors for this new medium, though. Questions are raised on the relevance of the promoted tweets idea. If a company is already being very active on Twitter, building up a healthy number of followers and engaging in conversation with them, why should it pay extra to send out the same message? The answer may lie in the fact that for any keyword, there is bound to be a lot of noise. For example, if a person were to search for ‘Maruti Suzuki’, the search result will have tweets from users in addition to those from Maruti Suzuki. By paying for Promoted Tweets, Twitter will push the Maruti’s tweets on top of the search results.
I am glad that Twitter is trying out this model to get in revenues. I am always wary of companies that give out free stuff for too long. Every company needs revenues to survive, let alone succeed. I am fine with dealing with a few ads as long as they are not very intrusive. I am fairly confident that this will be the same sentiment with other users as well. Look at Google. We still use it even with the advent of sponsored search results. As long as the ads are not intrusive and the company is transparent in letting us know which ones are paid for ads, we will be fine.
To me, the success of Promoted Tweets lies on how targeted the message is. If Twitter takes the effort to find out who I am, what my interest areas are, who are my friends are and what am I tweeting on and then shows relevant promoted tweets, the chances of it succeeding is much higher. Knowing Twitter team’s creativity, their strong focus on users and their ever-growing reach and popularity, I am confident that Promoted Tweets will be a success.
One of the tricks in designing a good Twitter background image is to make it relevant when being viewed in different monitor resolutions. The most common ones being 1024×768 and 1280×1024.
My designer, Rajesh, recently took the initiative to design a background for my twitter account @Kiruba . We keep doing this for our clients and he felt we should eat our own dog food. I totally agreed with him.
Let me share with you our experience whilst designing the background image. But first, take a look at how my new design looks in both the monitor resolutions.
The first is the 1280×1024 version.
Here’s what the same background image looks like in 1024×768.
If you notice, it looks fairly OK in both the resolutions. It didn’t come easy. It took many iterations from our designer to nail it right. The trick is to align the position of the pictures and the URLs in the right spot. Take a look at what the real background image looks like.
You’ll notice that my logo appears twice. That’s to make sure that the logo placement come out perfectly in both the resolutions. In the 1024×768 resolution, none of the URLs will appear. That’s OK. Its a compromise one has to make. But you’ll notice that they disappear cleanly without parts of it visible.
Here are a couple of good sites in case you want to try your hand at whipping out a good background image for your Twitter account.
Good luck and do share in the comments section if you have designed a background for your account. Also, point out your favorite twitter backgrounds.
P.S : One of my new year resolution is to blog regularly here. I’ve been very erratic last year. Glad I sneaked in a post. My resolution lives to fight another day!
Block the date, fellas. June 21st, Sunday. TwitterCamp cometh.
TwitterCamp is a one day unconference where discussions revolve around the concept of Micro-blogging and its various uses. It’s an open event. Pretty soon, a wiki will be set up where you can register your name and the topic you would like to speak on.
We have started the hunt for a venue that can hold 150 people. As of now, we have had a very enthusiastic response from US Technologies to help offer their office space as venue.
Calling good designers to help design a logo for TwitterCamp. Please let your imagination fly.
The event is the brainchild of The Knowledge Foundation, the non-profit group that has brought up BarCamp, Proto.in, WikiCamp, MobileMondays etc.
TwitterCamp is a true unconfernce, meaning that anyone can participate and help out in organizing. If you would like to offer a helping hand, please send an email to ganesh @ rupya.com.
I’m doing a story on Indian CEOs who tweet regularly for my next Business Standard column. It’s an idea inspired from this BusinessWeek story that lists global CEOs who tweet. While I already followed about 50% of the CEOs, the article showed me new interesting CEOs to follow. Figured, it would be good to make a similar list for India. And so here we are.
I took a quick minute to set up a new page in a Wiki. Had a wiki installed in Cerebrate site which I wasn’t using much and figured I’d put it to use.
Would be great if you can help out by pointing out names. Please edit and add away. Actually, the title might as well read, “Indian CEOs who microblog”. But since Twitter quickly conveys what a microblog really is, I let it stick. So, the CEOs who use any microblog services like twitter – jaiku, lifeblob, pownce,kwippy etc, qualifies.
1. CEOs of Indian origin. They could either be in India or abroad.
2. Expat CEOs of companies based in India. (example: CEO of Hyundai India)
3. Size of companies doesn’t matter. Startups with employee size 1 are as good as Microsoft.
4. CXO’s are in too. Top mgmt folks who are COO, CTO, CMO, CIO are good.
5. Founders of organizaions (who may not have a CEO title) are good too. (Example, Vijay Anand, Founder, Proto.in)
Please head to the wiki here. Thanks in advance.
Interview With Twitter Co-Founder
Biz Stone talks about the microblogging service’s runaway success. Twitter users will find it interesting. If you haven’t been bitten yet, more reason for you to check it out.
BTW, just realized that I’ve hit a century of tweets as of today. My twitter page is at http://www.Twitter.com/Kiruba