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On Twitter, The Early Bird Gets the Worm

Social Shopping is not new, but it is indeed gaining significant momentum. In fact, it represents the latest leaf in the new Conversation Prism infographic set to launch next week. Twitter too, is gaining velocity in a direction many skeptics didn’t think possible, the ability to monetize the stream. Twitter is set to introduce a new ad-powered program, @earlybird – a service that appears to emulate the daily deals powering services such as Groupon with the direct to consumer link proved by @DellOutlet.

About this time last year, I wrote a story that spotlighted Dell’s ability to literally bank $3 million in sales as a result from direct to consumer deals offered through Twitter. That number now appears to have approached $6.5 million. Of course, this revenue was generated without any financial obligation to Twitter.

Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees

Business plans and criticisms aside, what many don’t realize however, is that Twitter was already in the black heading into 2010 through its lucrative “firehose” deals with Google and Microsoft Bing. And, over the last several months, Twitter initiated monetization experiments with Promoted Tweets and Promoted Trends, two new advertising-based programs that tie earned context (tweets about related topics) and paid content (ads related to topics) to introduce a more targeted approach to marketing.

Starbucks, Virgin America, and Coca Cola each attest to the effectiveness of the new advertising vehicles and Twitter users, for the time being, are clicking through in droves. With each click, the community validates the program and encourages further experimentation.

Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb uncovered the new @EarlyBird Twitter account, which was also verified by Carolyn Penner at Twitter. In a response to Kirkpatrick she indicated there is more information to follow, “There are interesting things in store for @earlybird. Keep waking up early and you might be the first to find out what they are.”

Without any direct knowledge of how Twitter will use the new account, it definitely appears to represent a fun and monetizable program for the fledgling company. Businesses can now pay to introduce unique specials to Twitter’s rabid community, gaining visibility, sparking earned media, generating revenue and also improving Twitter’s bottom line in the process.

If you can imaging the possibilities for @EarlyBird, it goes beyond just one-off deals and specials through a generic account, it can be themed into opt-in channels for almost any area of interest, food, music, entertainment, events, etc.

As I’ve always believed, money doesn’t grow on trees, but it does grow on Tweets.

UPDATE: Twitter publishes FAQ for @EarlyBird

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57 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “On Twitter, The Early Bird Gets the Worm”

  1. stephenmurphey says:

    I'm curious to see how twitter will create paid tweets that add value rather than become twitter spam. I really like the idea of opt-in channels for specific interests. This just seems like a natural extension of being able to search user's bios and tweets to learn more about them. Given that we've all “opted” in to using twitter and essentially sharing this information, this audience should be more receptive to that kind of advertising.

  2. What about the early comment bird? 🙂

  3. Omar Alam says:

    Guess as long as the “Earlybird” messages are actually interesting, then all should be good. Pushing generic “HEY! I CAN MAKE YOU A GAZILLIONAIRE ON TWITTER WITH MY REHASHED BROKEN PRODUCT” offers will make this experiment's lifespan very small.

    Sure makes sense as another way to blast a promo or one-time deal into more eyeballs outside of email, newsletters, and deal of the day/alerts like many of the airlines already do. Having some permutations of this such as earlybird(insert brand name) may work better and help laser target certain demographics.

    Good info Brian!

  4. ajleon says:

    Very interesting they are using an actual account to do this…

  5. This will also teach and spread the idea of realtime earlybird specials through company's own streams. Brilliant.

  6. How interesting! I also believe that tweeting from various times throughout the day touches entirely new markets as some people only have time to check into Twitter in the morning or at night time, while some only have time to check into Twitter in the afternoon. If you're present on Twitter throughout the entire day (not overdoing it of course) than you can reach all sorts of new people.

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