Should customer service and micro-marketing be free? Charging companies fees for Twitter 7

(Biz Stone Interview with Vincent Everts in 2007)

Have you ever counseled a client about participating on Twitter? Then you should probably know that in the future, there is a good chance that micro-blogging will come with a price.

According to Marketing magazine and TechCrunch, brands using Twitter for commercial purposes could very well start getting charged fees – a decision that could affect the thousands of companies (Twibs currently reports 3,482)  that engage in the community every day.

Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone commented on the decision, saying:

“We are noticing more companies using Twitter and individuals following them. We can identify ways to make this experience even more valuable and charge for commercial accounts.”

This new business plan for Twitter could be very similar to the business plan that won Silicon Alley Insider’s Create Twitter’s Revenue Model Contest last week. The plan, submitted by a Publicis Group named Denuo, was aimed at charging corporate marketers for two things:

• Access to opted-in users willing to field the occasional question from brands
• For dashboard access to deep user analytics.

These could be two of the major add-ons that Biz Stone and Twitter look to provide for commercial accounts to increase value for the fees they aim to charge. This would be great for the brands such as Dell that have successfully leveraged Twitter to drive revenues, to the tune of $1 million.

While it’s clear that Twitter has quickly evolved into a next-generation marketing tool, it seems to me that this decision could potentially impact the consumer more so than the brands. Twitter is not only a vehicle for message delivery/selling – it’s also a platform for customer service/listening (see post on “micro-listening” here).

Let me tell you – when I was having difficulty connecting my universal remote, I sent Comcast a Tweet in desperation asking for help, and Frank Eliason helped fix the problem within minutes. (Mind you, this was after an hour searching for the answer online and reading through every print booklet.)

I hope these fees don’t discourage brands from participating on Twitter, as it’ll be the customer that bears the brunt.

Kyle Austin also contributed to this post

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