Twitter Hatching Another Baby Business Model?

After years of facing the insistent question “But how are you going to make money?” Twitter has taken a liking to this revenue model thing. It will charge for access to its full data stream. It will feature promoted tweets in search results and eventually other places. It will feature promoted trends in its trending topics. It will publicize sales and other deals. It will offer pro accounts (at some point). Now, Peter Kafka reports that Twitter is considering inviting users to pay to promote their Twitter accounts.

At the moment these various revenue models are like baby sea turtles: small, unformed and probably destined to get eaten up before they make it to fruition. But maybe one will make it big. Promoted tweets, a Twitter-specific version of Google AdWords, is probably the model most discussed as a breakthrough, but it’s just barely getting off the ground.

This new idea of advertising Twitter accounts does make sense — in this day and age, many people value their worth by their number of Twitter followers (even if that’s a bit short-sighted). However, as Kafka points out, for Twitter to launch such a product would be a bit strange considering that to date the company has discouraged people from gaming the system and it shut down its “suggested user list” amidst complaints it was unfair. Still, it’s not hard to imagine a little ad unit featuring a smiling Twitter avatar popping up somewhere in the margins of Twitter’s site or a third-party client, or spread around publisher sites through Twitter’s @anywhere platform.

Twitter spokesperson Sean Garrett’s comment to Kafka downplayed the significance of this particular scheme, but shed light on the company’s thinking around generating revenue with both advertising and premium offerings. He said,

“We will eventually have full suites of both promoted and commercial products. All the components of these two buckets of product have yet to be determined. Some are currently being tested publicly now. Some will be tested soon. Some are just ideas that we are broaching externally for feedback.”

Which is to say, keep your eyes open for the next revenue model to hatch.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Twitter Needs to Get Its Act Together, and Fast

Photo courtesy Flickr user kibitan.

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