Monetize Twitter then Monetize Everything Else

December 19, 2008

twitter-birdMonetizing the social web.  It’s the hot topic headed into 2009.  How can Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, and countless other online services begin to see real revenue and profitability?  And how can they do that without ruining the user experience and creating too much confusion on the websites?

For those familiar with social networks, those who use them daily, it is a constant debate.  From the business end, we can see that value of these networks, and the amount of information they hold, so we know there is money there somewhere.  From the usability end, we can see that attempts to use advertisers and third party publishers have had some negative effects on the cleanliness and function of the interface.  So what to do?

Well, I am not here to answer all the questions.  But I thought I would try my hand at just one.  How can Twitter make money?

I noticed a few days ago that Twitter announced that they were hiring a VP of Business Operations with one clear task, monetize Twitter.  Chances are that I will not get that job.  But if I did, here is what I would try:

1.    Charge Third Party Developers.  Twitter is a great service, and its easy to use.  Developers noticed this right away.  Many tools have come out that made Twitter more accessible from anywhere on and off the web.  Set fees to develop applications and programs that are used in conjunction with Twitter.

2.    Rotate Ads Right of Screen.  The Twitter interface is so clean that many people think ads would ruin the experience.  But as far as I can see, rotating long sidebar ads on the right side of the screen would take nothing away.  Ads can be targeted based on activity (updates, who you follow, @replies).  Show a new ad every time the page is reloaded.

3.    Sell Twitter Software.  Twitter has many uses.  In an office setting, I can see it as a means of communication that surpasses those that we use today.  Why not sell Twitter software to companies for a monthly or yearly fee.  Let them customize the design, add all their employees, and operate it on a different site (businessname.twitter.com).

4.    Twitter Marketing Accounts.  Create a new type of account, for marketers, that you have to pay for.  A marketer account allows you to send updates to a targeted market of Twitter users once or twice daily.  These will show up like normal updates on a person’s home page, but there will be a limited amount so the intrusion is negligible.

5.    Paid Twitter Ad-ons.  Similar to the Twitter Software idea, Twitter could add new services to their existing tool that one would have to sign up and pay for.  Call this a Twitter Pro Account if that is what works.  These could include a news section, forums, directories, finance that allow you to group Tweets together and display headline style information.  This is more valuable simply because it would be easier to classify information.  Charge a one-time upgrade fee or a yearly subscription that is so small that we all sign up.

So there are five things that I would do my first day on the job.  Who will get the job? Will they like my ideas?  Will they follow them?  Will they ever read or hear them?  Whatever happens, this is an important step in monetizing the social web.  And all other networks can be aware of these ideas and use them in their own way.  Prove to us that your inflated values make sense and that your products will bring us further than we ever anticipated.

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Chief Innovation Officer

November 17, 2008

innovation-venn-1According to Wikipedia, innovation is a new way of doing something. Successful companies invent a new way of doing something, then package it, and sell it. Innovation is business. Success is a direct result of innovations on all levels. So it is no surprise that a new executive position is popping up within many large organizations these days, the Chief Innovation Officer.

Job descriptions may vary, but for a CIO, idea generation will always be king. Real innovators know that there is never a shortage of ideas. That is just the way some people’s brains work, constantly thinking of new ways to do things. Those are the people that can rise to the duties of CIO, and lead corporations to the next level.

This job position has become more and more popular over the past year and a half. Companies like Citigroup, Coca-Cola, Apple, Google, and Toyota all list this position among their list of executives in the organization. You can even attend various workshops and seminars to learn what you need to know to fill this role. Some of the things you will learn: fostering an innovative corporate culture, establishing innovation processes, building idea teams, etc.

In 2006, the University of Colorado became the first university to offer degrees in innovation with its Bachelor of Innovation program. I am sure there are fresh young minds out there being groomed for these positions right now.

In my opinion, a CIO can go a long way to helping a company go from good to great. The key is hiring the right person for the job, and then giving them the space and freedom to define the role for themselves. The innovation department is a place where ideas go to develop and people go to learn. It can be an extension of R&D, with a little technology and marketing thrown in the mix.

A lot of the qualities that I would look for in a Chief Innovation Officer are those qualities shared by entrepreneurs. He or she needs to be able to come up with ideas, strategize, and put it into action. They need to be able to see things through from start to finish, and then they need to be able to pass it on to others within the organization to run it while they create the next great idea. A good CIO should own their position, and be able to develop and put into action a few big ideas every quarter. With this type of constant growth, good companies will never be stagnant or hesitant, and it will keep things moving in the right direction.

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