It only took eight some-odd years, but faced with stiff competition that has dented user growth and monetization, Twitter is finally considering a paid subscription offering.
Here’s what you need to know about “Twitter Pro.”
1. Twitter is currently researching whether there’s enough interest to make a go of it.
First things first: while the possibility of a paid subscription offering is more than rumor – Twitter itself made an announcement – the company says that it’s currently conducting research and asking users for feedback, so there’s no guarantee that it will move forward with the concept.
2. The offering would likely be an enhanced version of Tweetdeck.
In 2011, Twitter acquired TweetDeck, a Twitter client for iOS and Android that had become the most popular Twitter app in the world. Today, Tweetdeck, which Twitter dubs “the most powerful Twitter tool for real-time tracking, organizing, and engagement,” is most frequently used by power users and celebrities to manage and post to their Twitter accounts.
According to an email Twitter sent to select users, an enhanced, paid version of Tweetdeck would “provide valuable viewing, posting, and signaling tools like alerts, trends and activity analysis, advanced analytics, and composing and posting tools all in one customizable dashboard.
“It will be designed to make it easier than ever to keep up with multiple interests, grow your audience, and see even more great content and information in real-time.”
3. Such a paid offering would face stiff competition from third-party solutions.
Although Twitter would obviously be able to add new functionality to Tweetdeck that others can’t, those who Twitter would be targeting with its paid offering, including corporate and celebrity social media managers, already often use third-party social media management tools including HootSuite, Buffer, Sprinklr and Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
These third-party social media management tools offer support for multiple platforms, making them ideal for users managing accounts across services. Previously, Tweetdeck offered support for other social networks including Facebook, but as of mid-2013, Tweetdeck works exclusively with Twitter.
This limitation could present a big challenge for Twitter if it tries to convince existing customers of those third-party tools to pay up for an enhanced version of Tweetdeck.
4. Twitter isn’t going to try to get average users to pay.
Not surprisingly, there’s no indication that Twitter’s paid offering would be aimed at average users, as Twitter would not want to scare off new or casual users with a hard sell for its paid offering.
Instead of changing its business model, which is still driven by ad revenue, Twitter is interested in the possibility of adding incremental revenue from pro users.
5. Nobody knows what Twitter might charge.
None of the reports about the paid version of Tweetdeck discuss cost. If Twitter moves forward with a paid service, its direct access to its firehose will give it the ability to add features that might not be available elsewhere, particularly around alerts, analytics and sentiment analysis.
On one hand, exclusive features could be extremely valuable, justifying higher pricing, but on the other hand, if more and more of its power users are shifting their resources to competitors like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, Twitter might find that the market size for an expensive offering could be increasingly small.
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