For years now, people have been asking how twitter is going to make money. Earlier this week, their stance on some of the ideas including advertising became a bit more clear although we still haven’t seen any indication that any form of monetization is coming down the pipes. Could Twitter be planning something so sinister that they don’t want anybody knowing yet? Could they be planning to…charge per tweet?!
For whatever reason, the idea of charging per tweet never gets discussed much when people talk about how twitter can make money, but it is possibly the way that the service can make the most money. Sure, some users would be pissed if they were charged per tweet, but wireless carriers have been able to make this service work with text messages for years. Wireless carriers typically give customers several options when it comes to texting, you can pay per text, for a certain number of texts and then pay per text above that or for unlimited texts. Considering how much is charged for texts and how little they cost the carrier to send, it is a huge cash cow for wireless carriers. Not only does it make them a ton of money, but it also keeps the demand on the service at a more manageable level because people will more closely regulate how much they use the service.
This could be the perfect model for twitter. If twitter was to charge you a subscription fee that allows you so many tweets per month and then pay for anything over that like wireless carriers do with text messaging, they would need huge trucks just to haul all of their money to the bank. Having an unlimited subscription plan would be great and benefit the heaviest of users because it could take some of the current restrictions off in terms of number of tweets that can be sent per day. Of course there would be a free tier that would allow you to send so many tweets per month that while reasonable, would entice people to pay for a higher number of tweets. This would also solve one of twitter’s biggest issues, stability. If people were forced to keep a better eye on how much they tweet (unless they have an unlimited plan), twitter wouldn’t constantly run into the the growing pains that it seems to continually suffer from. Until recently, they hadn’t been a major issue since the fairly early days of the service, but the scaling issues seems to have returned now that Twitter has gone mainstream and this would be the best possible way to slow the growth and use of twitter until they can keep up with it while making a ton of money at the same time. They can kill two fail whales with one stone.
Will Twitter adopt this model as a way to make money and keep the site from growing faster than they can keep up with it or will they find another avenue for monetization? Time will tell.