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September 10th, 2009

Twitter plans ‘premium services’ for ‘commercial accounts’

We’ve made much on this blog about how to use Twitter to help your business and to market your website. We’ve discussed ideas that make Twitter worthwhile for business. And we also discussed Twitter 101 – the microblogging platform’s very own guide for businesses.

All this has been amid speculation of how Twitter intends to develop a revenue stream for what is at the moment an entirely free service. It seems that with an estimated $40m in the bank, Twitter isn’t in much of a hurry to start selling stuff.

So its with some interest that we came across the information released by co-founder Biz Stone that Twitter was in starting phase of developing commercial accounts in order to tempt business users to pay for ‘premium services’.

In an interview with VentureBeat, Stone said that the premium service would include services like detailed analytics. This would help business users analyse and understand how their users were interacting with Twitter, and how to make the most of that.

Stone said that Twitter was in the process of building a series of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that would allow developers to add on ‘business oriented applications’ for business users. (API is basically a mechanism whereby one piece of software can exchange information with another piece of software). These APIs would create a ‘commercial layer’ over the social network.

To reassure everyone about Twitter’s principles, Stone said “Twitter will still be free for everybody and we’ll still tell them to go crazy with it.”

He then added “But we’ve identified a selection of things that businesses say are helping to make them more profit.”

Twitter is also in the process of rolling out their “verified accounts” programme that we first discussed in a cyber-squatting post. These give followers the proof that the account holder is the official one for the business or celebrity, rather than a fake or pretend account.

Some celebrities including Stephen Fry have already been upgraded to “verified accounts”.

As to when all this launches, Stone wouldn’t be tied down.

For my part, I find it difficult to imagine the benefits of these ‘commercial accounts’ – I think I need to see it working, in the flesh, before fully understanding how it can help us website builders.

Do you think Twitter might be onto something? Have you got a suggestion of how they could make money? Leave us a comment below.

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