Twitter seems to be all the rage these days but really its just a microblogging service with a lot of buzz and no monetization aside from capital investment.
Of course, just because they have no current revenue streams doesn’t mean there isn’t value in the service. While I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon and use Twitter (for a variety of reasons from my extreme introversion to the fact that I detest crowd-sourced content models that rely on “nofollow” on every link the users create) I won’t be so blind as to ignore the potential value it provides to those who enjoy a more social marketing environment.
Anyway, this third-party service calling itself Magpie something or other is offering a solution to that: automated advertisements sent after every fifth Twittered message. IMO this would basically be like signing up for a service that gets access to your email address book or IM contact lists so it can send out a spam for every five real messages you submit. Of course, they’re sharing (some part of) the revenue with the Twitterers and this is sure to attract some more participation, there seems to be a general consensus building that this is likely to be a short run experiment that ends in failure and lots of lost followers.
Hey, who doesn’t want to get paid for something they are already doing anyway? The problem is that the few pennies provided by Magpie further erodes the potential values that aren’t being fully harvested (think about networks, networks, networks!)
Unfortunately though for Twitter and Twitter fans, it is almost inevitable that some form of advertising is going to infiltrate the current microblogging experience as the venture capital behind the current corporation will ultimately expect to see some returns. Yes, traffic is great – Google even started off without much of a business model – but someday, eventually, someone will have to figure out how Twitter is going to make some money and the standard temptation is to cram as many ads as possible onto a page without completely destroying its functionality.
And chances are, when Twitter does figure out a monetization model, it won’t be one that shares with the users. Obviously, Twitter users can get some value out of the service, but I have another intuitive hunch that for every person who “gets it” there are a multitude of others who could be finding a more productive use of their time.
(Any legal experts out there want to speculate on the likelihood of Twitter v. Magpie in 2009?)