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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Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

His most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. In 2009, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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