Despite a $1.1 billion valuation, social networking site Twitter has yet to feature any obvious monetisation. This is about to change. Twitter has announced a new account of its own, @earlybird, which will feature “special time-bound deals, sneak-peeks, and events … crafted only for the Twitter community”. The stream of “exclusive offers from Twitter’s select advertising partners” will look like a normal Twitter account, so members can follow and also retweet deals they like to their own followers.
This feels like the right way to go about getting some revenue for Twitter. It’s opt-in – and it’s being presented right: as privileged information, not just advertising. Asking users what kind of offers they’d like to see not only makes them feel included, it proves to merchants that the demand is there: canny. @earlybird has – at time of writing – more than 32,000 followers, despite the fact that it hasn’t yet tweeted an offer. I think this is going to work.
It’s less good news for those of us who are outside the US: Twitter’s first advertising partners “will be large, international brands or focused on the U.S. market”. My guess would be that if @earlybird is a success (which itself seems a foregone conclusion) then more accounts, specialised by geography and retail category, will follow.