Help me save Twitter!

twitter

This week, Twitter became mainstream. At least in my world.

It happened when Rove McManus – a questionable Australian television chat show host – spoke to Lily Allen about Twitter on Sunday night. And that was that.

Already this week I’ve experienced a surge of new followers to my Tweets. And I’m expecting plenty more friends, colleagues and old acquaintances and others to be on board by the end of the month. Like Facebook did in 2007, Twitter is infecting the internet-enabled world like a virus.

I’m wondering if that’s a good thing. Actually, I suspect it’s not.

One of the many delightful things about Twitter has been that no-one has really known about it. The world goes by, but anyone Twittering has a whole other world going on. Connecting with Smart people. Funny people. Interesting people. Ridiculous people. It really is amazing.

But now it’s getting popular. And you know what happens when social networks get popular – Their value starts to diminish. And once they go mainstream, all hell breaks loose. The spammers come in droves. It gets harder to keep up with your network. Before you know, your mother-in-law wants to be your friend*.

At the same time this is happening, the social networks are figuring out how to monetize. How to build their business model. And since we’re all addicted to free these days, that can be tricky. So, with an influx of new users beating your door down, the temptation to adopt an advertising based model will increase.

And then something happens. The magic is lost. People feel as though they’ve been duped. And they leave.

This happened to Myspace. And I’d argue this it has started to happen on Facebook. How many of us really use Facebook as often as we once did?

It hasn’t happened to Twitter yet, but I’m worried it could. And if Twitter is not careful, Twitter will fall in on itself.

So I’m proposing something different. I have an idea that would put the brakes on Twitter’s enormous growth, before it’s too late. An idea that would give the company a proper business model, not one based on advertising. An idea that may even strengthen the network. Something that I believe could save Twitter.

The idea? No More Twitter Accounts.

That’s right, Twitter should stop giving away new Twitter accounts.

The only way anyone can join Twitter from now on, would be if they bought their account from an existing Twitter user willing to give it up. Twitter should create a marketplace for Twitter accounts. 50% of the sale goes the ex-Tweeter, and 50% to Twitter themselves.

Given the popularity of Twitter right now, there’d be plenty of people willing to pay for a Twitter account to get in. And Twitter users who never ‘got’ Twitter would probably be willing to sell a Twitter account.

After a while, supply and demand would push the cost of a Twitter account sky high, and that’s where the revenues would kick in.

What do you think about this idea? I’d love to hear your thoughts, good or bad. And if you like the idea, why not re-post it? Or re-tweet it? My ultimate goal would be spread the idea back to Evan Williams / Biz Stone. I honestly think it’s a good one.

So, what do you say? Help me save Twitter before it’s too late.

* No offence dear mother-in-law, but that was a Facebook-has-jumped-the-shark moment for me.

5 Responses

  1. I’ve got to disagree with you, Ben. Finally Twitter will contain some serious REAL-WORLD conversations, rather than just a group of geeks talking about Twitter!

  2. Ben, although i don’t see @Ev and @Biz going for it anytime soon….i think the concept has legs. I like the exclusivity value prop.

    Nice thinking young man.

    http://twitter.com/scottkilmartin
    http://twitter.com/haul

  3. ROI

    Truly, the irony of social media wonks complaining about social media becoming /too/ social is delicious.

  4. […] on twitter and it reminded me of John Mayer’s Campbell soup deal(Seriously, what a bad move). Ben Rowe posted something interesting that I thought I’d share with you. I completely agree with him […]

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