24 November 2009 | Team Tamar

Twitter launching commercial accounts – but with what?

As is being reported online this week, Twitter founder Biz Stone has told the BBC that the micro-blogging site will be rolling out paid-for commercial accounts from next year. But before you tweeting brands start to get worried, you needn’t – these changes won’t mean that brands and companies HAVE to pay to be on Twitter, just that there will be the option. Essentially, the team at Twitter are doing the sensible thing and offering a freemium bolt-on to the site – you’ll still be able to do everything you currently do for free, but you’ll have the option of paying to add extra “premium” elements on to your account.

Talking to the BBC, Stone said “You will be able to pay for an additional layer of access to learn more about your Twitter account – get some feedback, some analytics, become a better ‘Twitterer’.

He also hinted that there were plans for “licensing and syndication” schemed afoot – presumably an extension of the recent agreements with Google and Bing to include tweets in users search results.

You get what you pay for

So what will the new premium service include? People have been speculating this throughout most of this year, ever since the news began to seep out that premium accounts were being discussed. The general consensus seems to be that some/all of the following would be included in the premium-account package:

  • Better direct-messaging functionality to allow brands to send coupons/offers to relevant followers
  • Guaranteed site up-time – no more Fail Whale for brands…!
  • Advanced statistics and analytics about your activities
  • A “verified account” status for brands, similar to that which is currently offered to celebrities – and presumably giving brands greater powers to remove impersonators / fake accounts

As well as the premium account, Twitter COO Dick Costolo confirmed this week that Twitter would soon begin to share revenues with it’s “partners” – presumably meaning sites like CoTweet and TweetDeck who add advertising to their Twitter-API-powered applications?

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.” – Arthur Conan Doyle

As a marketeer who has been grappling recently with the many obstacles to tracking bit.ly traffic through Google Analytics, I’m very keen on the analytics potential of the new premium accounts. More data about the effectiveness of ones tweets would be an excellent tool in a brand’s online arsenal, and would potential increase the already impressive potential of Twitter as a brand-building tool.

What would you like to see included in the new and much-discussed premium accounts?

Team Tamar