20.8.09

So Just When Will Social Media Make Money?


I read this piece from the Torygraph today which very much focuses on the negative aspects of social media. For those in the know, there’s nothing in the piece which will surprise you but for the digerati passionate about social media and its potential it will infuriate.

I take its point about Twitter’s drop-out rates and the dangers of revealing compromising information online, but the second is a pure common sense thing - someone acting as stupidly as the recent Facebook sacking girl deserves to get fired. But there is one point the writer raised which I can’t throw back at him – social networks are not making money.

Despite huge user bases and incredible potential (in theory) to market more accurately, neither Twitter, Facebook, Bebo – nobody – is really making money. And if they’re going to survive, they’re going to need to start doing so.

However, the business/social benefits to all of us make it worthwhile to keep the likes of Twitter and Facebook going. Should they introduce subscriptions now we’ve all test-run them for free? Should they introduce voluntary contribution set-ups like for tinyurl and OpenOffice?

If I were either of them I’d ask for a small nominal yearly fee (under £10) to take part. That’d get rid of a lot of the wastage on Twitter. As a freelancer in the digital marketing space it’s a critical tool for me to interact with others, educate myself on the latest developments and has even won me clients.

I would pay to use Twitter – would you?

[Image: some of the feedback from the article on Twitter today]

12.8.09

Why don't teens tweet?

It has emerged this summer that teenagers aren't getting into Twitter with as much vigour as the 25+ age group. Mashable posted some statistics that seem to confirm it.

If Twitter can't woo the younger, tech-loving crowd, it not only has bad implications for its future but also for its monetisation model (presuming that Twitter, at some point, wants to try its hand at making money). Particularly since one of the monetisation models that other social networks have used successfully, virtual gift giving and buying, is something that teens seem to take a lot more seriously than adults. After all, on my wedding anniversary I won't be sending my husband a virtual pint over Facebook. But my teen neighbour might be more prone to sending one to her crush.

The interesting question is, why? Why don't teens like Twitter? Some people think it's too 'geeky' for teens, but teens are into all sorts of geekware.

I'd be interested to hear other people's views. For me the answer is obvious - that is, Twitter isn't obvious enough for teens. Teens today want immediate gratification. In my opinion Twitter takes at least a month of fairly heavy usage to build up a community and start seeing how to use it properly with followers and followees, and gain some benefit out of it. Just following celebrities isn't exciting enough to keep teens interested; they will need to build their own communities of friends and other teens with similar interests. And this is something that takes time to build up. Also Twitter's background customisation tool isn't exactly easy to use and teens want their own identity on everything they touch. Will average non-techie teens bother playing with it? It took me ages to get mine right and that was with the help of a professional designer.

Or, are teens actually using Twitter and they've just managed to fly under our radar in terms of how they are accessing it? The Mashable article briefly explores this question, which isn't easy to answer, especially since Twitter is allergic to giving out usage figures.

Do you agree or have other reasons in mind? Would be interested in hearing your comments.