Ways to Monetize Twitter

Plus Ways to Waste Time on the Web

By Published on . 3

Twitter

1. CHARGE FOR IT
Of course, companies can already use the service for free, so what, exactly, would be new? Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus, has some ideas: more-customizable profile pages, a dashboard to manage followers and tech support.

2. ADVERTISING!
"It wouldn't be so bad," wrote Jason Calacanis, if every 10th or 100th tweet was an ad. Graphical ads would really pop on the text-heavy page.

3. CREATE A CONTEXTUAL AD ENGINE
Writes Jason D'Amata: "If I tweeted 'Twilight,' not only would Twitter be able to identify me as someone to serve a targeted (movie, book, culture, etc.) ad to ... Twitter can take all the language of my tweets and have a working profile for me ... la Gmail."

4. CHARGE FOR ANALYTICS
Adopt the TiVo data model, said Alexander Gordon. Such a tool could include data about consumer sentiment: What kind of tone do the tweets have? What elements of a product are most often cited?

5. ENABLE MOBILE PAYMENTS
It would make Twitter a $1 billion company overnight. That's what entrepreneur Nate Westheimer concluded in an essay for Silicon Alley Insider, in which he noted that mobile users of Twitter already use machine language to communicate. "It would position Twitter to revolutionize how money is collected and exchanged on the internet," he wrote.

6. CREATE SUBSCRIPTION-BASED GROUPS
Jim TerMarsch suggests Twitter could charge to be part of an affinity group of people who might want to follow a high-profile Twitterer: "Like J.J. Abrams fans -- get them to pay to see what he's thinking."

7. A PRO VERSION
Mr. Calacanis bets 1% to 5% of Twitter users would pay for a version that had perks such as photo, video and music storage.

8. MERCHANDISE
Create Twitter merchandise: T-shirts, messenger bags, scarves. Heck, Microsoft's doing it -- and people don't even love that company.

9. SELL IT TO GOOGLE OR MICROSOFT
The ability to send 140-characters-or-fewer messages via a web-based messaging service isn't what makes Twitter valuable. It's the social graph. So sell it to someone who needs one!

10. JUST SELL IT TO FACEBOOK

Ways to Waste Time on the Web

1. TRAVELER'S IQ
Quick, can you point to Bucharest on a map? Traveler's IQ, from Travelpod, is our newest favorite way to waste time.

2. SOMEECARDS
The brainchild of a couple of former Razorfish employees, Someecards dishes out daily snark in the form of e-cards, such as this heart wrencher: "You'll know I'm your Secret Santa if you don't get anything."

3. GAWKER
Still a great way to while away 15 minutes in the middle of your day. Eat it up now -- before there's no more media left for it to mock.

4. SHIBA INU CAM
The Shiba Inus on UStream's Puppy Cam are barely puppies anymore, but time wasters don't get much more adorable than this. Luckily there's a new litter in town.

5. MISTLETOE MAKEOVER
Hours can be wasted on trying new looks at Sephora's Mistletoe Makeover, which the cosmetics retailer created with Taaz.

6. YOUTUBE
A classic choice, YouTube continues to be the leader for user-generated content, and it's every bit as wacky and interesting today as it was in the good old (pre-Google) days.

7. COLLEGEHUMOR
Despite IAC's paring back its content division, CollegeHumor appears safe -- and that's a good thing, considering it's been one of the more consistently funny online-video programmers in a crowded category.

8. TWITTER
Somewhere between useless time suck and helpful customer-service tool, one thing is clear: It's easy to lose a half hour at a time on Twitter.

9. FAIL BLOG
Sometimes you just need to feel good about your own minimal competence. That's when Fail Blog comes in handy.

10. HYPE MACHINE
Hype Machine aggregates music blogs and, when those blogs have MP3 links in them, posts the links on its front page.

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