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Twitter searches for tweet success

Jeff Tyler Aug 21, 2009
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Twitter searches for tweet success

Jeff Tyler Aug 21, 2009
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TESS VIGELAND:And now a story about social networking. I have one particular network in mind. It’s attracted a lot of venture capital money and lots of media attention, especially for something that’s based on 140 characters. A growing number of its users are businesses. They’re pitching products and trolling the network for clients.

The question, though, is how to make money off all this. So the network is considering whether to allow businesses to pay for premium services, like detailed consumer information.

Marketplace’s Jeff Tyler reports.


Jeff Tyler: Twitter faces two big challenges. It needs to make money; its $55 million in venture financing won’t last forever. And, it’s popularity is becoming a liability.

Gary Arlen is a communications analyst. He says some people are struggling to filter out the mundane messages that dominate Twitter.

Gary Arlen: It is a lot of anecdotal evidence that people are annoyed by it or just bored by all the little tweets that show up about, you know, what I’m having for lunch or who I’m seeing for dinner tonight.

Twitter may be able to use one problem to solve the other. It’s experimenting with ways to sell information about all those Twitterers to businesses, allowing marketers to cut through the clutter with targeted ads.

But, says Arlen:

Arlen: There’s no slam dunk here that Twitter is going to succeed just because it finds a commercial road map.

Also in the works, what’s known as “geo-tagging.” That would allow Twitter to pinpoint your geographic location for tailored ads.

But high-tech analyst Rob Enderle says the strategy could backfire.

Rob Enderle: They need to generate revenue, but often what they’re selling is your private information.

And privacy could be a security issue for parents or even homeowners on vacation.

Enderle: This idea of sharing locations with the idea that it could be one of the top 10 things a home burglar might want as his wish list on Twitter, not to mention a predator or anybody else that might want to misuse that information.

It will be months before any of this stuff is available on Twitter. Enderle says parents will likely want to disable the geo-tagging feature or keep the technology out of the hands of kids. Not exactly a solution to make marketers tweet with joy.

I’m Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

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