Twitter, where is the business model?

TWITTERTwitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the trade of quick, frequent messages. It enables users to write short text-based updates known as tweets of 140 characters or less. Tweets are displayed on the author’s profile page and delivered to the author’s subscribers who are known as follower. Tweets can be written exclusively for a follower or followers, or they can be written openly.

Since its creation in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams and Biz Stone, Twitter has gained worldwide popularity and prominence. Without a doubt it is a disruptive product. It is currently the 3rd most used social networking site. Twitter has been the fastest growing major website in the UK over the last 12 months, and certainly the most talked about. The noticeable thing about twitter’s growth is that the vast majority of it – 93%, in fact – has occurred during 2009.

It is suggested that twitter has about 55 million monthly visits but if anything, it is even more popular than the numbers imply. Sites such as Hitwise and Comscore only record traffic through the twitter website, they don’t factor in Twitter Apps. Evan Weaver, Twitter’s lead engineering  its services team tells the Guardian that:
“only 20% of its traffic comes from the Twitter website; the other 80% (logically) comes from third-party programs on smartphones or computers. So if you’re looking at twitter stats on your website, you’re probably underestimating that source of traffic by a factor of five.”

This means that everyone has been grossly underestimating twitter usage. Twitter global monthly traffic could now be sitting as high as 200 million monthly visits.

Twitter is disruptive because it shifts the way we engage and communicate; setting off a whole range of endless possibilities. Twitter has proven to be a fantastic source of traffic for content driven sites, and the media companies with a strong presence on the service are using it to great effect. A most notable example would be Dell which claims to generate $3m via twitter

The new marketing program was, of course, announced on twitter, as well as on this Direct2Dell blog post:

Beginning today, Dell will offer deals from the Dell Outlet exclusive to Twitter in the U.S. With over 11,000 followers, our team wanted to show their thanks to the Twitter world through these new deals which will continue each week.

Clever companies are tuning into these micro-conversations to get early warnings of problems and to collect feedback on product issues or ideas. This may perhaps reduce the use of companies googling for feedback and issuing questionnaires and surveys looking for customer feedback.


Without a doubt as I’ve outlined above why twitter has an extremely disruptive nature. Although it must be highlighted that its disruptive nature is far more social than technical. Disruptive nature in terms of technology “ occurs when an innovation in technology or business model unexpectedly displaces an established one.


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