Information Technology Dark Side

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Dear Twitter: Please Pimp My Twitter Service

March 1st, 2009 · No Comments

I think I’ve found the answer to the Twitter business model, or at least part of it.

Pimping Twitter apps like I’m not talking about pimping it the way you might pimp out a car. I’m not looking for blue headlights and fuzzy dice here. I’m talking about pimping it, you know, the old-fashioned way – Harry Hines Boulevard style. If you’ve lived in Dallas you’ll know what I mean – if you haven’t and you can’t guess… I don’t know what to tell you.

Here are the twitter service pimp features I’m looking for:

  • Handling financial transactions between a twitter service and a twitter user
  • Protecting twitter services from twitter users with intent to do harm
  • Help twitter services advertise their wares to to twitter users
  • Establish rules for who does and who doesn’t get to sell their services through twitter
  • I think there is a huge amount of potential for twitter to make money off of a cut of the twitter service action, so to speak. Let me illustrate what I mean with my twitter-based charting application,

    Charting with uladoo is free. You don’t even need to set up an account – all you have to do is send a message like this “@uladoo bugs fixed 3” and it will create a chart called “bugs fixed” and add the value “3” to it. It’s easy, and it’s kind of cool, and it has lots of potential applications.

    It’s also kind of annoying. I created a chart called “calories” with uladoo and I tweeted to it every time I ate for about a week. My followers complained. Some of them, including my boss, un-followed me. Other uladoo users had similar experiences, and within a week of launching people were begging us to support direct messages.

    We now support updating charts with direct messages, and soon we’ll be supporting other cool features, like shared charts and charts with multiple series. We want to package these three particular features as a premium “pro” package that uladoo users will pay to use.

    Ultimately, I want to use Twitter’s built-in “follow” feature to control this. @uladoo will only follow twitter accounts that pay for the “pro” package. By virtue of the fact that @uladoo follows them, these users will be able to use all the cool extra features the pro package offers.

Here’s where Twitter can make money off of services like this: pimp my twitter service. I want to be able to facilitate the entire monetary transaction between @uladoo and our pro users. As a service provider, I want to be able to define the terms of our following agreement – is the user being charged at a per-message rate (ie $3/1000 DMs) or are they paying for a time period (ie $3/yr)? Once the transaction processes successfully, my twitter merchant account would automatically set @uladoo to follow the user. On top of that, twitter would also handle the recurring charges, allowing me to set up renewal messages, etc. Ideally, twitter would use direct messages to let users know it’s time to renew, and perhaps they would even use direct messages to facilitate the renewal transaction.

    New twitter-based services are coming out of the woodworks every day. Many of them have potential for generating revenue through paid “premium” services. Twitter can make money by pimping these services, by managing access to them by proxy and facilitating the financial transactions and charging the merchant for these services.
Would I pay 10-20% of my transactions to Twitter to have them do this? Heck yes I would. Look at my alternatives – building a an integration between PayPal/Google Checkout and my twitter account is not what I want to do right now. I’d rather spend my time adding new features, like chart mashups and data-displaying tooltips, than making a merchant account integrate with twitter.
For the time being, I think we’ll just do it manually. We’ll add a google checkout button to one of our pages, and every time a user pays me I’ll go to our twitter account and follow them. It’s not fun, but it’ll work. Obviously, it won’t scale, but I’ll be very pleased if that becomes a problem.

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    Stumble it!

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