The Case for Twitter Premium Accounts

June 15, 2012

It would make a lot of sense for companies to be able to have premium accounts on Twitter.

Consider the following use case:

Many companies have multiple users interacting with their customers on Twitter. For example, Southwest Airlines ( @SouthwestAir) has several customer service folks tweeting to users and addressing user questions (eg: @SouthwestWhit). Similarly Whole Foods (@WholeFoods) has dozens of tweeters including for Cheese (@WFMCheese ), Wines (@WFMWineGuys ) and for individual locations (@WFMMetroDetroit). All of these are individual accounts, even though they work for the same company.

A better approach would be to let companies have premium ‘umbrella’ accounts with multiple handles under the umbrella account. For example, Southwest Airlines would have a master umbrella account and individual reps have ‘official’ Southwest handles under this account. This will help companies streamline their Twitter communication.

Another big benefit of such an approach is that it would address questions of whether an employee’s Twitter handle belongs to them or their company.  With corporate accounts, the handle would clearly belong to the company. Of course, employees could have their own personal handles as well separately.

An extension of the premium account concept is to let companies have their own pages/ mini-portals on Twitter, where they can engage with users in a structured manner. These mini-portals can also offer enhanced functionality such as Buy buttons, Coupon downloads or Customer Service ‘conversations  ‘.

Here’s how:

(1) Product Catalogs:

Allow companies to offer product information or product catalogs on their mini-portals/ pages.

(2) Buy/ Action button:

Having a ‘Buy’ or Action button on their premium account page will enable companies to promote products/ services to interested users and enable their users to complete transactions right away. They can also directly track user response to their messaging.

For example, companies can drive greater engagement in the following sequence:

Promoted Tweets —————> Premium pages,—————-> Product catalogs ————–>Call to Action (Buy Button/ Download coupon).

If a user clicks on “Buy” or performs the action such as say, downloading a coupon from the page, the company can measure the value of the Promoted Tweet and ultimately, the ROI on their spend.

(3) Enhanced User Engagement with Company:

Users can visit the company’s page and ask questions about the product or engage in discussions. For example on a page for Acer’s laptops, users could go and ask the Acer reps questions about the laptop specs, via 140 word tweets, of course. The Acer representatives would address user questions and concerns by tweeting back to users.

Premium accounts would also be a useful vehicle for Monetization for Twitter.


The Value of a Facebook Fan: Some Insightful Readings

February 21, 2012

In the course of doing research on Facebook’s valuation, I found some great articles and posts on the Value of a Facebook Like or Fan:

1. From the Brandbuilder blog, some of the best analysis I have seen on this subject.

Assigning an arbitrary (one might say “cookie-cutter”) value to Facebook fans in general, averaged out over the ENTIRE breadth of the business spectrum, is complete and utter bullshit.

2. Here is an argument (from Millward Brown) for how social media is not a means to building brands, but rather an end.

Social media can’t help build brands without the other ingredients that make brands strong: an effective business model, a great brand experience, clarity of positioning, and the ability to disrupt the status quo in a product category.

3. And this, a comparison between the value of Facebook and Twitter sharing from Eventbrite.

Sharing activity on Facebook equaled almost 4 times the amount of sharing on Twitter.  We attribute this to Facebook’s reach (right now there are simply more people that use Facebook than Twitter) and the fact that connections on Facebook more closely mirror real-world, personal relationships.

4. Finally, a video on calculating the ROI of a Facebook ‘Like’ by Adobe. Note that this is a promotion for Adobe’s offerings, but I found the methodology interesting.


Update: Here is an infographic from Minter Dial’s blog.

The short story is that there is no way to place a single value on a fan. The answer is that “it depends.” Not only are some fans worth more than others, but the way you build up engagement on your page makes the value of a fan more or less potent.

I plan to follow up with a post distilling my readings and my own ideas on assigning a value to social media ‘Fans’ or ‘Followers’.  Stay tuned!

Email as the Ultimate Deal Aggregator

September 6, 2011

Almost everyone has an email id that receives deals, mailers, discount coupons, and ‘mass’ emails. Wouldn’t it be useful if email could aggregate deals, recommend related products, filter out deals that do not meet requirements and even unsubscribe to less relevant deals?


How would this work?

This would work by integrating email with a deal aggregation engine in the backend.

  • First, a separate tab is provided for deals. This tab will contain functionality built specifically for deals. Putting deals in a separate tab will also reduce Inbox clutter.
  • Users are asked for their preferences and targeting information such as Categories of interest, Gender, Location, Favorite merchants, Price preferences (by product category) and so on. Based on this, the deal aggregation engine would find all deals that match the user’s criteria. For example, if  the user provides “Spa Services” as an area of interest, the deal aggregation engine would fetch Spa related deals from Groupon, Living Social and other daily deal services.
  • Apart from daily deals, the email aggregator would find coupons for the user’s areas of interest. For example, if I indicated “Babies/ Children” as a category of interest, it would sign me up for Babies R Us or Target’s Baby coupons. For “Books”, it would sign me up for Barnes & Noble or Amazon coupons. I could also specify individual retailers that I like to shop at, say New York & Company, and the deal finder would crawl for their coupons and push them into my Inbox.

Here is why email is the ideal deal aggregation platform:

  • Most deal notifications happen via email subscriptions. By integrating email with deal aggregation, users do not have to take the trouble to subscribe to individual deals. They would have to indicate their preferences just one time and their email based aggregator will do the rest.
  • Email can help reduce user deal fatigue. Even though email tends to get cluttered with mass mailers, deals and coupons, it is the right medium to organize deals in such a way as to get users only the deals they want.

Wanted: A Personalized Deal Aggregator

February 19, 2011

Social selling sites, especially Groupon are growing at break-neck speeds. A related business model is that of social selling aggregators . There are already deal aggregators such as Dealflakes. But I’m talking of a more personalized and customized social deal aggregator. Here’s what it would look like:

For an individual social selling company such as Livingsocial or Groupon, switching cost for customers is pretty low. Customers are fickle and only care about a good deal, not where it comes from. Whether I get a good deal from Groupon or LivingSocial, I don’t really care. And it’s very easy for me to switch. All I have to do is sign up for both of these services and I get 2 good deals a day in my inbox and I can pick the one (if any) that’s of interest to me. Additionally, I already get frequent coupons from stores of interest to me, such as Borders, or Babies R Us. However, my problem is that my Inbox gets cluttered and it is not easy to track all my deals and coupons.

A social deal aggregator can integrate all my deals, and provide me a consolidated view of my deals both from sites like Groupon as well as from stores of interest to me, such as Borders. It can categorize deals based on areas of interest such as Restaurants/ Books/ Entertainment/ Travel. It can let me filter by price or brand or even attributes such as Mail-in Rebate (which I prefer to avoid).

A solid recommendation engine would add a lot of value to the deal aggregator. So if I’ve signed up for deals from Babies R Us, it can recommend deals from Target for baby products. Or if I’m interested in deals from a local retailer, it could recommend even better deals from a similar business but located a little bit away, if I’m willing to take the trouble. The recommendation engine, while providing deal information relevant to customers, could also double up as a revenue source for the aggregator.

I found that Dealgator has a similar concept as outlined above. It does lack some useful features, such as the recommendation engine. Its categories are also not as granular as I’d like, resulting in a clutter of unnecessary deals. But it’s only a question of time before either they or someone else provides the full experience.

Extending’s Business Model: Coupons

October 9, 2010’s monetization model is based on making recommendations for financial products tailored to the user’s financial situation such as bank savings accounts, credit cards, insurance or brokerage accounts. And it does so in an intelligent manner that is useful to the user. (That is the best kind of selling). For example, I got a recommendation for a savings account that offered much more interest than I was currently earning. Mint also noticed that I hadn’t been saving in my 401K for a few months and so suggested a 401K rollover account. Pretty neat, I thought, even though I did not end up using these recommendations.

Another area for Mint to monetize while providing customers with useful functionality is to incorporate Discount Coupons. Since most Mint users are serious savers focused on reducing their spending, this is a natural fit. So, based on the stores I shop at (Mint already pulls this information from my credit card and bank information to calculate my spending), it can show me coupons from retailers of interest. For example, if I’ve been shopping at Target or See’s Candies, Mint can show me Target coupons and coupons for See’s or Godiva chocolates. This should of course be non-intrusive, and could be an option on the “Ways to Save” tab.

An E-commerce Model for Social Networking

November 20, 2009

Users share birthday information, engagement and wedding announcements and many more such events with their friends on social networking sites. So why not extend this and let people buy their friends gifts for weddings, birthdays, baby showers on the networks itself? Social networking sites such as Facebook could support wedding registries – people planning to get married can sign up for a Facebook wedding registry provided by merchants such as, say, Pottery Barn or Williams – Sonoma. Their friends can then buy them their wedding gifts online. Another concept could be wish-lists – I can maintain a wish list on my profile – and any friend who is so inclined can buy it for me during the holiday season or for my birthday or anniversary.

Users should be allowed to choose whether they want their friends to see their purchases or wish lists, and if so, which friends.  It certainly should be an opt-in model.

This would require that Facebook have its own shopping engine and allow sellers to set up Storefronts. These could range from the really large stores to mom-and-pop stores. A Target storefront is different from a Target ad listing. This is because the storefront will facilitate interactions on the network itself – I can buy things from Target’s FB storefront, get coupons for the next time, share my coupons with friends, apprise them of really great deals and make suggestions (“Hey these shoes will really look good on you”, “I thought you might like this book”) – with their permission – no spam, please!

For the user, the benefit is the combination of ease of purchase and social interaction. For the retailer, the benefit is obviously the sale. Additionally, the viral nature of the site will also give them more customers. They could also derive the benefit of the targeting available on social networking sites. The site itself of course would charge listing or sales fees to the retailer which would be an additional revenue model.

Note: Facebook does have a gift shop but it is pretty basic and not as yet conducive to the wedding registry kind of concept. Also, it’s better to not just have a single gift shop, but let retailers set up storefronts and let users to buy directly from them. There are 3rd party e-commerce applications that some retailers use, but this should become a standard mainstream feature.