Would you pay to use Twitter?

Twitter has changed my life. That may sound dramatic but it’s true. What makes it even more remarkable is that it has been free to use.

Without having to reach for my wallet, I’ve spoken to and met many interesting people who share the same passions that I do. I’ve also been able to keep in touch with old friends, find a new job, keep up to date with topics I’m interested in and use it as an important learning tool.

This is all very well and nice but when it really comes to the crunch, is Twitter actually worth paying for? Does it hold a cash value? For me, it’s a yes (that was blindingly obvious!).

Over to you. Considering it’s value, would you pay to use Twitter? I’m not talking management tools or applications – just purely being able to have an account through Twittter.com.

Possible factors that may influence your decision could be:

  • the way in which you use Twitter
  • the value and benefits that you gain
  • how much it impacts on your personal life
  • how much it impacts on your professional life
  • the other options that are available to you
  • how a payment structure would actually work

I know this is a hypothetical scenario, but it would be great to hear your views:

Would you pay to use Twitter?
If so, what is your reasoning?

Please let us know by leaving a comment below!

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  • http://twitter.com/widget1 Mark Needham

    Certainly if I had had to pay to set up a Twitter account, I would not have done it. But there must be some charging opportunities for them – heavy users perhaps? Or they could say that for all accounts opened after1st May, it would be free for 90 days then $1 per month.

    I signed up for $29 per year for extra storage on my Yahoo email account several years ago when the amount of online storage on Hotmail etc was strictly limited. I still do pay them – it is not a large enough sum to make me back up everything I have in that account and move it somewhere free of charge.

  • http://www.robertpickstone.com Robert Pickstone

    A friend made a very similar comment to me yesterday. He would not have paid to sign up because he would not have seen the value. At first I don’t mind the sound of a free period before paying, but then would users be trying to force benefits because of the cost, and use it to market more than they did before? Charging for heavy usage sounds a little fairer to me.

    Whether or not Twitter will look for revenue directly from users remains to by seen. One thin is for sure though – we have all been very lucky to have had these opportunities and benefits completely free of charge.

  • http://twitter.com/digitaldales Lindsey Annison

    I’d pay £1 a month. I think, so will others – it’s Monday morning, it’ll liven up when it hits the RSS feed ;o) http://5tth.blogspot.com/2011/03/ot-10-things-i-would-pay-1-month-for.html

  • http://carolverity.com Carol

    As per Mark’s comment – it’s a bit of a slow burn with Twitter… you HAVE to do it to really ‘get it’. Anyone who has truly connected on Twitter and had the offline integrated experience a well whether for business or personal gain would agree. I don’t know anyone who signed up for Twitter and whooped about it immediately. It is a slow burn. Anyone who is now an ‘addict’ and it is part of their day would 110% pay to use it. I honestly can’t imagine my life without it now… how sad is that :(

  • http://www.robertpickstone.com Robert Pickstone

    I hope so! ;-)

    A pound a month would be great value for those that understand the benefits.

    Thanks for sharing your post – just left a comment.

  • http://www.robertpickstone.com Robert Pickstone

    That’s not sad at all. You have used it positively for both personal and business purposes, so you have used it well! For tens of millions of people, Twitter is a massive part of their lives – they use it every single day for various reasons, and many of those who claim they wouldn’t pay probably would but just don’t like to admit to it ;-)

    If many of those I follow and engage with were to stop using it due to the costs, the equation changes completely and the value might change, but in this scenario I would definitely spare a few pennies for something I’ve been getting completely free.

  • http://www.carlismith.com Carli Smith

    Hi Robert,

    I would most definitely pay to use Twitter – I got my job through Twitter so in that sense it has a monetary value for me. I agree, it has been a fantastic tool to talk to other with similar interests and I have met many individuals that I would now class as my friends. I wouldn’t have joined Twitter had their been a fee to join, like Mark said, as I wouldn’t have known how good it was. I was on Twitter for a few months before I realised just how good it was.

    Interesting post – certainly made me think :-)

  • http://www.jedlangdon.com/ Jed Langdon

    Very interesting question Rob. As I said to you yesterday on Twitter, I wouldn’t have joined if I knew upfront I would have to part with any money – but like the people that have commented below, I would definitely pay now (depending on the cost of course – I wouldn’t pay a lot!) The value I get from Twitter and the relationships I have built would be worth paying a monthly fee for, but I could only pay what I can afford.

    I’m not sure exactly how Twitter would implement this though and what pricing strategy they would go for. As I’m sure you will agree, it is difficult enough trying to persuade someone to join Twitter, and I’m sure if they knew there could be a charge down the line it would be even more difficult to persuade them. I think you are probably right that it would have to be a charge for the heavier users.

    What I think is interesting to think about, and I’d love to hear your views on this, is what the Twitter landscape would look like if Twitter did introduce a payment scheme? If I had to take a stab, I’d say that the quality of interactions would improve due to there being less noise and those being there taking it seriously. But, we would also miss out on a lot of quality relationships because less people would be signing up and giving it a try. What I’m wondering is a) Would this reduce the number of spam and abandoned accounts and b) Would reducing the number of potential relationships be worth removing all this spam? I think possibly not to the latter question and therefore if Twitter did consider this hypothetical question, they should err on the side of caution.

    I know I’ve strayed into territory you didn’t ask about in your post, but I find this far too interesting a subject to not open up the discussion :)

  • http://www.juusmedia.com/ Jason Stanley

    If there was a trial version and I got to use Twitter to test it out and see it’s benefits then I would most definitely pay to use the service.

    It’s value is with it’s connectivity. Through the use of Twitter I’ve got freelance work from people I may never have known about in person, I’ve gained access to a world of resources, design discussions and inspiration from countless others within my field.

    Off the bat though, without any experimentation with the service I would be very hesitant as when I joined Twitter I was really unsure of it’s value to myself as a designer, it’s not until you actually explore and connect that you find a wealth of knowledge and experience.

  • http://www.robertpickstone.com Robert Pickstone

    Hey Carli,

    Thanks. I’ve seen this issue mentioned now and again but never really discussed.

    I think we both use Twitter in very similar ways…for lots of different reasons (friends, work, information etc)! I totally agree – putting a charge on something before users can see the value is risky.

    Oh, and we would never have spoken to each other had it not been for Twitter. It must be worth at least a couple of quid! ;-)

  • http://www.robertpickstone.com Robert Pickstone

    Wow! Love the depth you’re going into!

    Firstly, I think we are both right (how arrogant does that sound?) – the more tweets that are sent, the more Twitter has to pay to maintain its service. Charging for usage would probably be the fairest method.. A very small fee of say £1 per month after 6 months of usage may also work. The problem with this is that the user base may not grow at the speed that Twitter would like.

    The landscape question is fascinating. The general nature of interactions would change – there is no doubt about this in my mind. Users would effectively be forced into thinking about how they tweet because of the cost implication in the back of their minds. Would this change to the way people are thinking and tweeting have a positive impact on interactions? Would users be thinking about their communication too much rather than just letting it flow in the unrestricted way they have been able to up until now? I’m not sure that it would have a positive impact on forming relationships.

    Allowing every single user to have a voice, a presence and an opportunity free of charge has been a huge part of the success of social media. Social media has broken down barriers – introducing a cost may put some of them back up.

    It would probably reduce spam whilst also reducing the rate of Twitter’s current growth (by users). Even more so than ever though, Twitter would be trying to control and manage the type of users they have and the way they tweet.

    Thanks for your comment – I am now thinking about this in even more detail! Please note – I have not stated whether or not I would like a charge, I have just asked the question ;-)

  • http://www.robertpickstone.com Robert Pickstone

    Thanks for sharing your views, Jason. I think most people are in agreement that it takes time to see the value and therefore introducing a cost to new members would be very risky. It’s great how you have used it in so many positive ways.

    Another couple of things that are worth remembering: we met through a tweetup and probably wouldn’t know each other if it wasn’t for Twitter (I bet you wish there was a charge now!) and it’s unlikely the Plymouth Twestival group would have exactly the same volunteers if there was charge at an early stage. In fact, would Twestival have had the same impact with a charge? Almost certainly not.

  • http://twitter.com/blswmarketing Business Link

    If Twitter did monetise their service in this way I’d guess the following would happen; a lot of casual users would stop using the service, there would be a drop in new user adoption and more competitors with different models would enter the market.
    Personally though I’d still pay to use Twitter but I wouldn’t pay much. Could Twitter manage a two tier user base like LinkedIn or Hootsuite? possibly but my moneys on targeted adverts like Facebook and Google.
    Google’s strength in targeted ads (i.e. that they know you from pure search data, to iGoolge and all the way through to your Android app data) could easily apply to Twitter.

  • http://twitter.com/ACJon Jon Anderson

    If Twitter did monetise their service in this way I’d guess the following would happen; a lot of casual users would stop using the service, there would be a drop in new user adoption and more competitors with different models would enter the market.
    Personally though I’d still pay to use Twitter but I wouldn’t pay much. Could Twitter manage a two tier user base like LinkedIn or Hootsuite? possibly but my moneys on targeted adverts like Facebook and Google.
    Google’s strength in targeted ads (i.e. that they know you from pure search data, to iGoolge and all the way through to your Android app data) could easily apply to Twitter.

  • http://www.robertpickstone.com Robert Pickstone

    I think you’re right – trying to generate revenue directly from users would open up the market. Facebook would be laughing too, with many tweeters surely spending more time using their service.

    A two tier approach could be interesting – some of the benefits could include unlimited tweets (basic users would be limited), and there could be the option to block advertising. I’m not overly sure Twitter would ever go through with this as both advertisers and basic users may be a tad unhappy.

    The success of promoted tweets, trends and accounts remains to be seen – there haven’t been a great deal of companies sharing their results (especially in relation to cost) – but, like you said, targeted adds is surely their major revenue model moving forward. I think I saw earlier that there are over 140 million tweets per day. That’s a lot of data.

    I just thought I would pose the question to see how much my followers value Twitter and to get a discussion going. Thanks for spending the time to leave a comment.

  • http://profiles.google.com/abfabseo David Saunders

    Oh yes! Just about to launch and Internet Newspaper for Plymouth and Twitter will be a massive help

    David

  • http://www.robertpickstone.com Robert Pickstone

    I hope it goes well and I’ll keep an eye out for the launch

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  • Dave Thomas

    I wouldn’t pay to use Twitter. It’s a useful way of keeping in touch, but if I didn’t use it, life would go on on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

  • http://www.robertpickstone.com Robert Pickstone

    Thanks for the comment, Dave. Is this the @bluegrass_it:twitter  Dave? It’s very sensible to ensure that you can keep in touch with people on other platforms too, and build relationships/maintain there too.