Twitter started testing a new feature called Contributors on Monday that allows business users to manage how its employees post 140-character messages from a single account. Monday's rollout of the feature is the latest in a series of announcements from Twitter that indicate the company is interested in commercializing the service.
Contributors is designed to make it easier for business users to manage multiple users on one Twitter account. Say, for example, a PC World editor wanted to tweet something using the @PCWorld Twitter account. They would be able to access the account under their own Twitter name, and a small byline would appear under the tweet letting PC World's followers know who tweeted the message. Twitter believes this model of micro-blogging will allow businesses to engage in more authentic communication by "making the business to consumer communication more personal."
Twitter is currently testing the new feature in limited beta with a small subset of Twitter accounts. The company says the Contributors feature will eventually be available to all business users through Twitter's Website and through third-party clients like Seesmic and HootSuite.
Is this a business model which I see before me?
Contributors is just one feature the company has in development for its business users, and will presumably be a part of Twitter's planned premium accounts. But even as signs of Twitter's business model surface, the company has insisted as recently as October that it's more important right now for it to focus on its product than a revenue stream.
In addition, Twitter's Chief Operating Officer Dick Costolo announced during TechCrunch's RealTime CrunchUp in November that Twitter would launch an advertising business in the near future. "It's going to be really cool," TechCrunch quotes Costolo saying about the new Twitter ads. Details are scarce about what Twitter-based ads would look like, but blogger Robert Scoble has an interesting theory about how it would work. Twitter has also struck up a partnership with the social network LinkedIn, which could encourage more professionals to use the micro-blogging service.
Twitter has yet to announce how much it will charge for premium services like Contributors, but with new and enhanced features in the works it's probably only a matter of time before Twitter officially launches premium accounts for businesses.
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