Innovation. Ideas. Insight.

Adding Friction to Twitter

In Ideas on January 23, 2009 at 11:04 am

Twitter.comI’ve been thinking a lot about Twitter recently and want to bounce an idea off everyone:

Would there be a benefit to adding a micropayment model to Twitter?

I don’t mean like the current Twitpay tool for sending money to people, but rather hardwiring a payment system into Twitter itself. Something like this:

A one-time, non-refundable, two cent subscription fee for every person you want to follow – one cent to that person, one cent to Twitter. So now, if you’re someone like Guy Kawasaki with 50,000 followers, you’ve made $500 and so has Twitter. Is that enough to retire on, no of course not. But it establishes a level of value for Guy, and begins a revenue stream for Twitter.

For the Twitter user, it’s a barrier, but not an insurmountable one. A dollar for every 50 people I want to follow is not cost-prohibitive, but it would make me slightly more selective. I’d still be willing to take a chance on somebody who looks interesting, but I’m not going to go on a mass following spree for the sole purpose of getting follow backs. And for those abusers who do want to do that, well, at least we, and Twitter, will make some money off of them.

Yes, information wants to be free, but sometimes adding a little friction can be beneficial.

  1. I don’t think that the actual amount of money to follow someone on Twitter would be a barrier. But I think that the cost for the consumer in terms of time/annoyance to enter their payment info would be a barrier.

    Additionally, would the $0.01 per follower to Twitter actually bring in any money for twitter, once you account for the transaction fees & backroom setup to accept PayPal/credit cards etc?

  2. Christian,

    You bring up some very legitimate questions and concerns. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. I think it would encourage more use of various Twitter-ranking sites and push for some sort of consistency being applied in valuing following/followers.

    Might also breed hatred and discontent over quality of content, whether someone is posting often enough or too often. Dumb things for $.02, but people feel ripped-off easily, even for pennies.

    My $.02 anyway.

    • I think the most valbaule thing that I ever learned about working with freelance clients or co-workers is about how to manage expectations. First, understanding the perceived expectations of each party is key. Second, agree on realistic expectations together (designer and client) this includes budgets, time-frames and deliverables. REALISTIC was the key word there. And three, if there is problems, RESET those expectations in a reasonable time-frame. The client will be much less put-out if the deadline is not met or a project will run over budget, as long as they have proper notice (reset expectations). Great post!

  4. That’s the way to think man. Genius.

  5. […] written about the economics of Twitter a couple of times in the past (here and here) looking at both sides of the issue. Recently, others have chimed in, including Seth […]

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