You can’t buy friends – but STM content providers could help other businesses make them

rwwTwitter may have found a business model – but not a price point.

I’m not overly convinced by the proposition that Twitter could sell ‘suggested friends’ connections at $1 a go. The price point is unrealistic, and such a transaction does not equote to a guarantee that you will be able to begin to interact with your ‘newly-purchased friend’ (an uncomfortable oxymoron), which you will still need to convince them it is worth doing.

Rather, it is a consequence of the fact that, firstly, this information is already available for free if you know where to look, and secondly that your chances of enabling a potential interaction with your would-be contact will not be improved by a mere purchase decision.

In fact, nothing will have changed other than your having spent a dollar. Post-purchase, the act of convincing new connections not to block you immediately or perhaps enticing them into following you will remain a function of the value of the content you offer, the services you provide, and the perceived potential your would-be new relationship will bring with it.

Whilst the concept is intriguing non-commercial users at least  are unlikely to pay – or at least, unlikely to pay a dollar – merely for a potential connection when other services such as the jaundiced-but-useful Twellow and elegant Mr. Tweet provided tailored searches for like-minded Twitter friends for free.

Having said that, it has to be acknowledged that stepping out of your workflow to use search tools is never going to be convenient, and an opportunity lies within this realization. With Twitter CEO Evan Williams saying he’s picking up 1,600 followers a day at the moment, wouldn’t a $0.01 per ‘suggested friend’ fee make a lot more sense? Who wouldn’t pay that for access to targeted, appropriate connections? Surely the utility of this business model lies in its potential as a volume-shifter rather than a value-attractor?

Furthermore, within a commercial setting I could certainly see the pharma industry paying $1 per connection for access to healthcare professionals from target groups.  Which leads me to the question: what value could STM content providers add to this interaction to augment the utility of the would-be connection to the healthcare professional, thereby making it more likely that they would follow the sponsor, and as a consequence nudge up the price-per-contact ticket price?

For once, we perceive an opportunity here for publishers rather than another node of disintermediation.

Thanks to @medxcentral for RTing @jonrognerud‘s original tweet.

One thought on “You can’t buy friends – but STM content providers could help other businesses make them

  1. I have been pondering this post for some time, the phrase that struck me is
    ‘it has to be acknowledged that stepping out of your workflow to use search tools is never going to be convenient’
    Absolutely! and I can see how attractive it would be for me as a user to have anything that would make this process easier.

    However, because Twitter is (was?) a social networking (as opposed to marketing) tool people are there to build meaningful social networks. Therefore to put a price tag on it, even of $0.01, changes the dynamic from a social network to a business network which would change the whole way people view Twitter and interact.

    It may be as more companies begin to use Twitter for commercial (as opposed to information sharing) reasons that this model may work, but currently it is still, for the majority, a social networking site

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