Twitter should charge for usage of service says investor

September 24, 2009

Twitter should charge for the use of its service via mobile phones if it is to convert its huge popularity into cash, one of its venture capital investors said to the UK’s Brand Republic today.

The suggestion comes as momentum builds behind Twitter’s plans to devise a business model that can generate money from its large number of users. Earlier this month, Twitter altered its terms and conditions to allow it to implement targeted advertising across the site.

Joi Ito, a Twitter investor who has previously invested in Flickr and Last.fm, said: “When Twitter grows, SMS usage goes up. Sites are now able to promote across friends’ [Twitter] networks, traffic to certain kinds of sites increases. There’s a lot of things Twitter enables. And as a normal internet company would do, we’d look at who’s benefiting the most in this value chain, and where is there the least friction [for Twitter] to get paid.”

Ito said he was not speaking on Twitter’s behalf, but added that he believes “mobile will be an important part of the [Twitter] strategy.”

Separately, a new Twitter-based hotel booking engine has launched as brands attempt to figure out a way to capitalise on the Twitter phenomenon.

Inoqo claims to provide a solution for recession-hit hoteliers and travellers who need a hotel room at very short notice. The service opened to hotels this week in the USA, France, Portugal, England, Scotland, Ireland and South Africa.

Twitter users can book a room by following one of Inoqo’s “CityStream” Twitter feeds to watch the last-minute deals as they roll in. Once a user has identified a deal, they place an order via Inoqo’s own booking system. The company is privately funded, and has plans for an affiliate program that will allow bloggers and website owners to embed widgets on their sites.


Dubai Metro makes it to number 1 in Twitter’s ‘trending topics’

September 9, 2009

The Dubai Metro has made it to the number 1 spot in Twitter’s ‘trending topics’, which indicates the subjects most discussed globally on the micro-blogging service on a particular day.

dubai-metro-1Thanks to a concerted effort by Twitter users in the region, the new Metro system, which launches today, has managed to overtake Jay-Z and The Beatles in terms of popularity.

The Middle East’s Twitterers used the hashtag #dubaimetro repeatedly within the 140 character message limit allowed by the service, with each use of the tag counting towards the Metro’s popularity rating.

An attempt is currently underway to keep Dubai Metro at the top of the popularity rankings as the USA begins its working day and goes online.


Biz Stone hosts inaugural Cannes Tweet-up

June 22, 2009

For a man in part responsible for the hottest social networking phenomenon of the moment, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone revealed himself to be remarkably grounded in his address to a capacity crowd for the inaugural Cannes Lions Tweet-up held 15 minutes ago.twitter-logo

Stone revealed the inspiration for the platform came from instant messenger ‘away’ messages that gave information on why someone was unable to communicate at a particular moment in time. In collaboration with his fellow founders, Stone went on to build a prototype of Twitter in under 2 weeks, then tested its capabilities and appeal amongst a small group of friends.

 Twitter’s instant news gathering power went on to become apparent to the group when a photojournalist they knew was covering public protests in Egypt. His hastily produced “arrested” tweet led to friends in America being able to galvanise their efforts into setting him free. Twitter, had, said Stone “told them what it needed to be” and they just “went along with the ride”.

Stone then took ‘live’ questions from ‘Tweeps’ across the globe on a big screen at the auditorium. In response to questions regarding Twitter’s plans to monetise the offering, he revealed plans were afoot to generate revenue later this year. Stone name-checked Dell and Wholefoods as brands he hoped to speak to see how Twitter could add value to them and their customers, but emphasised their commitment to building a company of enduring appeal in order to justify a fee to advertisers. Jet Blue was the brand Stone felt had utilised Twitter most effectively so far.

The news wire reach of Twitter had been revealed numerous times said Stone, citing the recent events in Iran and Mumbai, but it was complementary to traditional news sources and could be used to tighten news gathering services.

Stone also revealed that Twitter is not for sale, saying “we’re currently not in acquisition talks,” and 2009 will instead focus on tightening the product. “We’re only 1 or 2 percent into the journey that is Twitter,” he concluded.


Attracting nutters via social media

May 25, 2009

It’s been a few months now since I decided to increase my interaction with social media, so I thought I’d share some highlights with you.

First up, and my favourite, is a response to my first YouTube comment made under the pseudonym TheMightyRouge: “TheMightyMakeup?” comes the reply. “What a pretty, pretty name. Are you a full tranny, or just into make-up?”

I haven’t been too active on Twitter – only 29 updates so far – but I’ve discovered a few fascinating things. For instance, it turns out that a certain individual would rather staple his genitals to his fridge than spend 40 dirhams on a drink.

As for Facebook, well I thought it would be good to join more groups, only to stumble across the ‘We hate gingers’ collective. When I pointed out that their group amounted to discrimination, I received this message: “F*** off you ginger t**t.”

Illuminating stuff this social media.


Are we going silly over social networks?

March 23, 2009

twitterbird2Are we going silly over social networks? That’s the question we ask in the latest edition of Campaign Middle East.

The exploding popularity of sites such as Twitter and Facebook have generated a massive amount of interest.

On the plus side, these social networking sites offer immediate sharing of information, news and opinions. Abha Malpani, a former professional blogger and now a new media consultant at  Asda’a PR, is a keen advocate. “What I get out of Twitter is the instant connectivity with people that you wouldn’t get otherwise,” she says.

But there fears that sites such as Twitter, with its limit of 140 characters per post, are dumbing us down by encouraging shallow thinking, short attention spans, selfishness and gossip. In situations such as the vastly exaggerated Melbourne aeroplane incident, rumours on Twitter take flight and are accepted as reality when there’s no substance. This introduces more serious concerns about the spread of misinformation and the possibility of stolen identity.

Francis Matthew, editor at large of Gulf News, says: “There is a disturbing trend that you get a lot of personal impressions.  It’s very ‘me, me, me’ and there is not enough fact and authoritative third-party reporting. That’s a real danger.”

Then you throw brands into the mix. Marketers are getting involved in social networking – either reactively, to defend their reputations and answer complaints online, or proactively, by using these sites as a new way of  engaging with consumers.

But this is a difficult path to tread, says Mohamed Elzubeir of analysis agency Mediastow, as many web users react against what they see as corporate intrusion. “Very few brands have spokespeople who can connect with the public at such an intimate level,” he says.

So what do you think? Are sites like a Twitter a useful tool or are they turning us into dribbling, ignorant dummies?


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