Twitter co-founder Biz Stone has tantalized company watchers with an interview in which he said that the website is going to announce its plans to, well, start making money.
He provided little hints in the CNBC spot, other than there are ways to make money besides advertising. He also suggested that related services that have sprung up around Twitter will benefit too. "When we develop this monetization platform, it's not going to just be for us. It will actually extend to all of these apps," he said, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Earlier this month Twitter introduced @anywhere, a tool to better connect third party sites to related Tweets. There have also been a wide range of tools developed by other companies to make sense of the immense data that can be had on Twitter. But a straightforward monetization path for Twitter, and presumably its users, has thus far eluded the market.
It is not just Twitter: examples of a real-dollar ROI from social media marketing programs are rare, according to Charles Nicholls, CSO of SeeWhy. "Unfortunately for most ecommerce teams, having hundreds of thousands of fans often doesn’t translate into revenue."
There are lots of tools becoming available to help you measure sentiment, comments and click through, but all of these are essentially measuring influence, not measuring what really counts, he wrote. The big question is, 'how do we turn fans into paying customers?'
Nichols' answer - which is not likely to be Twitter's - is to integrate e-commerce back end systems with the fan base". While your sites are disconnected, all your fans are anonymous; you have no idea whether they are a fan or not, so you can’t market to them in a relevant way. This type of integration is deeper than the commonly seen 'Friend us on Facebook' or 'Follow us on Twitter' hyperlinks which you see on many ecommerce sites."