Since it's launch some 4 years ago, Twitter has been valued at approximately one billion dollars, and yet, in that time, the company has failed to become profitable. That might all change in the forthcoming months however, as Twitter launches the 'promoted tweets' concept in a bid to make money.
What's so different about 'promoted tweets'?
Promoted tweets are said to be 'ordinary tweets that businesses and organisations want to highlight to a wider group of users', according to Twitter Founder, Biz Stone. Initially, the promoted tweets will only appear at the top of the search results pages, but the second phrase of the launch is likely to see the branded tweets expand beyond this, and into users' timelines.
Twitter has to be especially careful when introducing new services to it's platform, with a single wrong move having the potential to alienate users, leading to them closing their accounts. With this in mind, Twitter is taking the time to 'test the water', and insists that the promoted tweets must 'resonate with users' (meaning users must interact with the message through a reply or reTweet) else they will disappear. It will certainly be interesting how the likes of Red Bull, Sony Pictures and Starbucks get on with testing the promoted tweets service, and also how users interact and cope with these tweets. Some individuals have already expressed their concerns over the service, stating that Twitter is less of a sales tool, and more of a customer service interface - which leads to the question of whether the scheme will provide businesses with a sufficient return on investment.
Has Twitter lost some of it's values?
I'm eager to see how this development is received by the Twitter community as I had my concerns when it was first announced. The fact that Twitter is such a fast channel makes marketing within it, very difficult. Twitter has 'solved' this problem by placing promoted tweets at the top of search results, regardless of where the initial tweets should actually be positioned within the time-line. In doing so however, has one of the fundamental concepts of Twitter not been lost? Will Twitter lose it's key 'selling point' of being 'real-time' by slowing the stream down (to the point of being partially static) as a result of the promoted tweets?