Monetizing Twitter is Like the Cat Stevens’ Song About Getting a Date for Your Sister on Saturday Night

Another fella told me, He had a sister who looked just fine
Instead of bein’ my deliverance
She had a strange resemblance
To a cat named Frankenstein.

lyrics from the song “Another Saturday Night” from the album “Cat Stevens Greatest Hits” June 1975

With the issue of identifying sustainable revenue models within the social media world coming into mainstream community consciousness, on-line discussions have a way of cutting through the debate and striking at the heart of the matter.

A perfect example of this belief is reflected in an exchange I had the other night on Facebook.  What is telling is the fact that while there is no doubt that people are making money through venues such as Facebook, Twitter etc., when presented with the question of what that might be worth in terms of having to pay an access or usage fee the general response is well, nothing!

The following is the actual transcript of the discussion.   Once you have had the opportunity to read it, I would encourage your comments.

I would also like to invite you to tune in to the September 10th (Can Twitter Make Money and Other Questions Regarding Social Media Revenue Models) and, September 16th (Why Advertising is Failing on the Internet: The Future of Social Media Revenue Models) broadcasts as we delve into this topic with bestselling author Shel Israel and Blog Talk Radio’s Director of Programming Philip Recchia.

In the meantime, here is the interesting Facebook exchange:

SH: Susan had an interesting article this morning on Tweeters For Hire! Tell them to call me! LOL

Social Media News – the Day’s End – Susan Boggs – a Global Bridge


Tweeters for Hire! The Associated Press published an interesting story yesterday on how companies are beginning to hire professional tweeters. That’s right. Many corporations are starting …

RG: Those jobs, as they are too good to BE true, most likely are NOT true. I’d be surprised if there are more than a couple dozen people in the whole USA hired specifically to tweet.


Jon W. Hansen: Here is a link to the September 10th PI Window on Business Broadcast “Can Twitter Make Money and Other Questions Regarding Social Media Revenue Models” that will add an interesting dimension to Susan’s post.

SH: Hey Ron.. I tried to contact you through your Facebook profile earlier but I got some kind of weird error message and couldn’t get it. I figured you had deleted me as a friend. I like those odds. I’d love to be one of those 12.

Hey Tina! You go girl. I need to schedule your shows so I can catch a few.

Hey Jon. Can Twitter Make Money? For business owners it is certainly a smart move to make. I’ve done a few Teleseminars on it.

RG: Delete you as a friend? Are you NUTS?

Twitter hasn’t made me a dime. Yet. but my efforts have admittedly not been focused. Yet. I just wanna sell me and my smarts, and not spam to do it.

SH: Did you just call me a Spammer Ron?

RG: Oh, I hadn’t even thought about that. Want me to go check and get back to you? LOL

SH: I’ll be at @(deleted) waiting for your response. Tweet me!

Jon W. Hansen: It is an interesting paradox in that while the community can make money through or on Twitter, the company itself is struggling in terms of developing a sustainable revenue model.

In December, Twitter CEO Evan Williams took some heat from the media and markets for Twitter’s inability to turn on what they referred to as the “revenue generating engines.”

The question on everyone’s mind is simply this, who is footing the bill…. Read More

On the 10th Shel Israel whose book “Twitterville” is being released this month will join me followed by BTRs Dir. of Programming Philip Recchia to to talk about this question as well as others relating to the need for these communities to make money – something that they are not doing at this point.

An interesting question relating to your Teleseminars is this, what would you be willing to pay from the proceeds of your efforts to a social network platform such as Twitter – and would Twitter consider it to be enough?

SH: I don’t find it a paradox at all. When you have a free website you’re going to have to find a way to generate revenue from it or you won’t stay in business. Take for instance Netzero: Defenders of The Free World who is now $14.95 per month. They stopped defending the Free World a long time ago.

Jon W. Hansen: Understood, but the question is this (and of course taking into account that I do not know your specific revenue model), what would you be willing to pay today to use Twitter to generate the income you are at the present time?

SH: At this current moment I’m willing to pay exactly what I’m paying for it…Absolutely Nothing…

Jon W. Hansen: And therein is the paradox, and of course the challenge associated with monetizing social media platforms.

SH: That’s Twitter’s paradox..Social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn make money hand over fist because people pay for premium features and advertising. Very basic business models really.

Jon W. Hansen: How do you know that they make money hand over fist? LinkedIn for example certainly has capitalization (which we learned from the boom-bust is a far cry from tangible assets), but still required VC investment last summer.

I ask because I have not seen a financial statement for either.

The conversation concluded with my last statement, and at this point in time I have not yet received a response to my question “how do you know that they make money hand over fist?”

Perhaps that is the point of disconnect between two contrasting realities . . . the belief on the part of the user community that due to membership sizes and popularity every social media platform (or at least the majority), are rolling in dough, versus the stark reality that these social networks have bills to pay without a tangible or proven revenue model.

What is the old axiom “no cost, no value?”   Is the price of providing members with free access the immovable object hurdle for the irresistible force of having to generate income?  Only time will tell.

In the meantime remember to tune in to the September 10th PI Window on Business Show through the On-Demand Player below.

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