Can Twitter Make Money and Other Questions Regarding Social Media Revenue Models

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Jon Hansen

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In a recent post in the PI Window on Business Blog titled "The American Football League, American Basketball Association and Blog Talk Radio?", I talked about the differences between traditional media and the emerging world of social media in terms of having a sustainable revenue model. Specifically, can the popularity of social media be practically monetized to the same level that traditional media such as television, print and radio had enjoyed in their past glory days (emphasis on past). Of even greater interest is if the new media moguls even know how to weave high transactional activity into gold. It is an interesting question, especially given a December 2, 2008 article titled “Twitter CEO: The revenue’s coming soon, but I won’t tell you how.” In response to questions surrounding Twitter’s ability to produce tangible revenue, CEO Evan Williams “brushed of again criticism that the company is slow to turn on its revenue generating engines.” While some felt that Williams “was a bit lost on the revenue front,” others got the impression as he spoke further that “he actually had a plan.” The Williams response, which lacks the certainty of a proactive visionary path, is more in line with a group of guys who woke up one morning and found to their surprise that their simple idea had turned into a global phenomenon. In essence, there wasn’t really a business plan or revenue model, because the business almost happened by accident. Joining me today in what is the first of a series of interviews on this timely topic, is bestselling author and industry expert Shel Israel who's book “Twitterville: How Businesses Can Thrive in the New Global Neighborhoods,” speaks to the heart of the question . . . can Twitter or any business make money via social media?
 

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