Now that Oprah has placed her Midas Touch on Twitter and the membership numbers seem to be growing as a result of it, you'd think that Twitter would be able to hammer out a revenue model that would allow the financial floodgates to open.
But, no, Twitter continues to give it away - the platform, the audience, even the tools to tap into it.
My CNET colleague Rafe Needleman published a Twitter piece (no, not a tweet) this morning with the appropriate headline: Please, Twitter, take the money. His point, in a nutshell, is that Twitter should be involved in a "contractual, monetary business relationship" with the companies who are using Twitter to extend their brands into the Twittersphere - currently, for free. That's not only a gain for Twitter but also for the companies, which can now hold someone accountable for performance issues.
In recent months, as Twitter has continued to grow, we're seeing the fail whale more often - a sign that Twitter is ill-equipped to handle the traffic of tweets being written and read - pushed and pulled, if you will. When an "over-capacity" message appears on the screen, you accept it and try again. Rafe writes:
But if I were running a program on Twitter that was, for the sake of argument, scheduled to run simultaneously with a live event--say, a Super Bowl ad--I would sure want to know whom I could call at Twitter to yell at to get this fixed.
I'd want a contract with a penalty clause for downtime to wave in that person's face. Without a contractual, monetary business relationship, there's no actual responsibility, and who wants to base a business plan on good wishes and intent?
OK, Twitter, here comes the next wave: Oprah... AND friends. That's a big crowd, a grown-up crowd that spends real money and is attractive to real advertisers and marketers. The Ashton-CNN-Oprah impact puts Twitter further into the mainstream, extending beyond the boost it received during the U.S. presidential election.
It's time to buckle down and get down to business, real business, with real money and real performance. Let's get those dollars flowing and the hardware upgraded and unleash the potential of what this service really can be.
More than just a startup with a cutesy name.