Fast Company

Twitter's Success: Tweeting 600 Times Per Second, but How to Monetize This? [Updated]

twitter chart

Twitter has released some analytical stats that reveal how much of a rocketing success story it is: Forget rumors Twitter has plateaued--Tweeps are now Tweeting over 600 times every second. The sheer volume of that data is astonishing. But can Twitter monetize all this activity?

Looking at the curve of Tweets per day over time, the growth of Twitter's popularity can only be described as exponential. Since Twitter's very raison d'etre is somewhat viral--like most social networking systems--perhaps this curve shouldn't be too surprising, as more people engage in Twitter it becomes a richer data source, and that makes it more attractive for incoming users. They find it a more exciting, useful experience...and they stay and take part, in greater numbers than Twitter's early days (when frequently Tweets were something like "What is this thing for?")

So, we have 5000 Tweets per day in 2007, with relatively few users exchanging information, and only just beginning to flesh out Twitter's capabilities. In 2008 more people were aboard, Tweeting 300,000 times per day. Last year, 2009, 2.5 million Tweets went out each day, and Twitter itself evolved: People were re-Tweeting, inventing phenomena like #musicmonday and #followfriday (which actively helps expand the social network) and linking their profiles into Facebook. Twitter began to seriously appear in the public's eye. In December came the great Google feed live switch-on, which definitely bumped Twitter's public profile even more. And right now Twitter's shepherding a flock of 50 million Tweets per day, 600 per second. Assuming the average Tweet is about 100 characters, that amounts to 5 billion characters per day--an astonishing wellspring of fresh new content.

But here's the thing: We think that Twitter's begun to claw in cash, thanks to the deals with search engines, and it's clear from its founder's stance that Twitter is in no rush to be bought up by somebody--its business is sustainable. So exactly how can Twitter leverage the enormous amount of data pouring through its servers every day to earn even more cash? It's a tricky one, especially as the company's already sealed a deal with the world's biggest search engine. It can always re-negotiate the terms of that, if its live news feed into Google becomes more valuable in user's eyes...

No. Now's the time for Twitter to really roll out its business analytics, those premium paid services that Biz Stone described last year. At 50 million Tweets a day, many of them containing useful links and opinion data, and with more and more companies using Twitter for PR and customer liaison, its obvious Twitter's status stream has reached critical mass.


Update: With perfect timing, a huge new rumor has popped up concerning Twitter's revenue-generating future. According to CEO and co-founder of Seth Golstein, Twitter's on the verge of rolling out a new ad platform. Quizzed on the matter, Twitter's head of product management and monetization Anamitra Banerji refused to say more, but did confirm an advert platform was under development and was in active testing. So much for Biz Stone's stance on an ad-free Twitterverse.

To learn more follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.

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  • George Kyaw Naing

    To monetize, gradually, everything will come down to "charge the users directly".

    But many internet companies, esp social networking ones, are afraid to "impact the Realtionships with the User"

    What is wrong with "charging user directly" model? Google model will be a mere blip in history.


  • Aly-Khan Satchu

    That Chart right there has climbed a Wall of Scepticism. It remains in a Parabolic Growth Curve and Biz Stone Esquire has made two Excellent Calls.

    The First is to have the Gumption to ride the J Curve as he has done and fend off the Temptation to bag some Gains. The Second Excellent Call is create an Open Garden Architecture. Too Many have a Bias to lock Folk into Platforms and in the Medium to long Term this might well prove a very Poor Business Decision. By Keeping The Platform Open, The Company is making a powerful if in part subliminal Statement. The Tipping Point was surely the Iranian Protests which gave Twitter an immediate and International Resonance.

    It would be interesting to see what Market Valuations are now. $1b was a quite a Steal when that Valuation was touted about.

    With regard to monetisation. There are Infinite Possibilities. The Overarching Aim is to a continual Value Add and not impair the Relationship with the User that the Company has in fact so carefully nurtured.

    Aly-Khan Satchu