April 13, 2010

Twitter bows to corporate advertisers, shuns average users: good bye social media, hello corporate advertising

Last summer Twitter made a lot of headline news for its explosive growth without a clear plan for a business model. I blogged about the company twice during that time, once to discuss their lack of revenue model, and another time when the company was being publicly dissed by VCs for… their lack of revenue model.

On Tuesday Twitter announced their long awaited revenue model.

The ad based program called “Promoted Tweets” allows companies to purchase “ads” for the search keywords so that their tweets show up higher in the list. Now businesses will be able to push their Tweets up higher in the feed, blocking out discussions by, say, dissatisfied customers, or during a major public relations fiasco. Toyota would have loved this feature during their recent recall.

In the next phase, Twitter will allow “ads” to randomly show up in the feeds for people it deems interested. So if I’ve Tweeted about my blog on Starbucks’ debranding, Twitter will decide I’m interested in Starbucks’ products and will randomly push the company’s promotional ads down my throat.

Good grief! This effectively wipes out the level playing field all accounts, whether individual or corporate accounts, had in the past. Good bye social networking, hello corporate advertising.

Since Twitter started in 2007, it’s shown phenomenal growth, with over 22 million unique visitors in March 2010, up from just over half a million a year ago. That’s an envious position for a startup, and of course there was a need for a solid revenue plan for the company. But this will change the face of Twitter as we know it, and I’m not sure for the better (I’m willing to be convinced otherwise).

The New York Times quoted Dick Costolo, Twitter’s COO as saying: “The ability of companies to engage with customers around this interest graph is more compelling than trying to wedge yourself into these social interactions.”

Really? “These social interactions” were what Twitter was supposed to be all about.

Before you know it, Twitter will be taken over by ads by corporate big-wigs essentially drowning out the collective voices of average users, and bloggers like me. Hey, maybe that’s what my beef is all about!

I’ve been quiet recently since I’m wrapping up major projects for two clients this month, and also tending to my mother who has been ill (we’re hoping she’ll be fine, thank you). But I’m already working on some interesting blogs coming up soon, so stay tuned and come back!

1 comment:

  1. Very insightful blog, Kat, and we've missed reading them. I will (of course) tweet this to my network. Ara Babaian