Thoughts on monetizing Twitter

Twitter is creating revenue streams for a lot of people, and if I may say so, encouraging a lot of creative ideas. Not all are good, that goes without saying, but the sheer volume of ideas around Twitter is certainly getting to be overwhelming. In the last two weeks, I chanced upon @tweecret_santa, and @stocktwits, for example. @tweetbomb has been shut down, though I noted that too. 

Elaborating on the revenue stream concept I mentioned earlier, I found Be A Magpie, which is an ad network for Twitter. It’s a move that is bound to be met with hostility from the majority of people on Twitter – look at this TechCrunch post on the topic.

I’m interested in knowing what their take-up is. I’m saying this with a motive: I signed up to be part of Guy Kawasaki’s experiment to publicize Alltop on Twitter via Twitterfeed (all of you who follow me on Twitter and noticed those tweets will finally realise what that is all about!!), because I found, prior to signing up, that Alltop interested me enough to tweet links to it anyway, and also because I wanted to see how far he could take it as an experiment in social media. In addition, he was offering free copies of his latest book. Anyway, last week, he changed the rules based on feedback from other people who took this up – based on the frequency of tweets, relevancy of tweets to the subscriber, and sensitivity of some proposed new Alltop topics (like hunting and addiction). Of course, the option to remove oneself from the list is always there. 
Be A Magpie, in a sense, is an extension of Guy’s idea, or perhaps a mix of this and Google AdSense. Twitter AdSense, I’ll call it. On the negative side is the obvious unwelcome invasion of a public sphere online (considering Twitter is a public sphere on the web). On the positive side is the monetary aspect (apparently I can earn almost 42 euros a month if I choose to sign up to this – which, in case anyone is wondering, I will not!!). TechCrunch can earn upwards of 14,000 euros – it all depends on the strength of your network. 
Bloggers who display Google ads do it for the money, don’t they? So they are in effect monetizing their online fame. Twitterers who sign up to this will be doing much the same thing. In both cases, readers/followers have the option of not reading the specific blog or unfollowing the person. The difference is that Twitter is a much more personal sphere online. 
The question of boundaries is subjective, which is what this and similar schemes ride on. I may find something offensive or irritating, but you may not and vice-versa. As long as the majority is OK with it, you’re safe. If someone I follow chooses to sign up to Magpie, I will follow them as long as what they say has some value to me, or in the very least is not offensive. I assume this is why Guy Kawasaki has introduced his latest modifications – he was bound to lose more people from his scheme in the future than he already was, because those people were in turn finding that their followers found the Alltop tweets irritating. Be A Magpie has two very sensible guidelines to get around this problem: one, you can define the frequency, and two, all Magpie tweets are identifiable with a hashtag. If Guy had that option, I’m sure it would make life easier for people who choose to sign up to the Alltop Twitterfeed. 
As for what I’m going to do about my own involvement, I’ll wait a bit to decide. 
Update: Just heard that Notifxious does a similar thing – notifies you via a medium of your choice (phone, email, IM), when a site you’d like to follow is updated. 

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