The hottest emerging media question of 2009 was “What is Twitter’s Business Model?” Many pondered, many posited, and few hints were given.
But, taking a breath before committing to a revenue model is a good thing for Twitter. A completely new, never-before-experienced service like Twitter needs time to grow. Users need to play with it. They need to see what’s possible. Then, they need to decide how they are going to use it. And Twitter used 2009 to really listen and understand its users and their needs.
Now, we’re starting to see the results of all that listening.Twitter has rolled out a formal retweet, and Twitter Lists (both of which are hugely important for Twitter’s real purpose: building and understanding influence) in the last third of the year, and now they have revealed their next new feature: Twitter Contributors. This will make a huge difference for all of the businesses that use Twitter.
Contributors will help formalize the concept of the group-managed Twitter account. The system will work like this:
April, Brian, Carrie and Donald all work in the PR department for their company. Each one of them has different functional responsibilities, and areas of expertise. So, they all have a reason to be tweeting on behalf of the company. There are already third-party apps that allow multiple people to tweet from one single account. But, right now there is no way to know which person tweeted which post, or even if multiple people are managing the account.
Typically, this is handled in the Bio section of the account, where all of the Twitter handles of the account managers would be listed. This solves the question of “who runs this account?” but doesn’t get at the question on who wrote which tweet.
So, this is clearly functionality for groups and businesses. Twitter is endorsing group use of the tool, and allowing more accountability and trackability within the service.
For businesses, this is especially important, because, unlike the “for more information, please contact” section at the end of your press releases, people actually do reach out over Twitter to follow up on a new piece of information. So, knowing who to follow up with encourages more genuine conversations to start on Twitter.
And that’s a win for Twitter, as well as the businesses that use it.