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Twitter ‘could start charging’ for online marketing

The Twitter logo - be prepared to see a lot more of thisAt the moment, it seems that you can’t make two clicks on the internet without stumbling across an article about Twitter. The nifty little ‘micro-blogging’ device has seen its ubiquity surge in recent weeks, not least because of celebrity exponents such as Stephen Fry’s use of the system.

Hitwise states that Twitter is now the UK’s sixth most popular website, with traffic up 27 fold in the past 12 months.

For the uninitiated, Twitter is a service that allows its users to send 140-character updates about what they are currently doing to a list of followers, who can then ‘tweet’ back at them advice, observations, jokes or, as more usually happens, whatever random musings enter their minds.

The usefulness of Twitter in an online marketing context is yet to be fully explored. At present, several large companies and organisations have their own Twitter feeds, via which they can keep followers – or customers – updated on the latest news, product launches and so on.

So far, Twitter has been entirely free for companies to use in this way. However, speculation is mounting that Twitter has started to look at ways in which to increase revenue – including charging businesses to market their products via the service.

Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, told Marketing magazine that the company had considered the option when looking at ways to make more money from its service. However, he added that there are currently no firm plans to implement charges.

Free or not, Twitter could become another key strand in online marketing. If it can stay free of the torrent of viral spamming that hit social networking sites in the mid-noughties and devalued the work of genuine online marketing firms, Twitter may prove a very useful tool.

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