A Missed Opportunity – Britney On Twitter

This guest post is written by Narendra Rocherolle, the cofounder of 83 Degrees. Previously he was the cofounder of Webshots, which was sold to Excite@Home in 1999. He and his partners purchased the assets back in 2001 and grew the company until a sale to CNET Networks in 2004.

Apparently it is true, Britney Spears is on Twitter, and while the transparency of her new media outreach has been questioned, having a celebrity of her magnitude using your service is undoubtedly a good thing.

Only, it could have been so much more.

You see, for Britney, Twitter is just another stop on the social media PR train — blog, MySpace, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, et. al. Twitter has had ample opportunity to lock in its disruption by enabling a subscription option for publishers. As a Twitter user you should be able to designate your own service model for those who follow you: free (default), pay only, or freemium.

With a pay only model you could set the price someone would have to pay to follow your Twitter stream, could be monthly, yearly, or one-time. For freemium, followers would pay for premium content that the publisher could designate with a leading $ when they post.

Twitter could collect some percent of the revenue generated.

Why would this work?

First, Twitter has created the simplest publishing platform available. SMS is content publishing that *anyone* can do and this opens doors previously closed by technical overhead.

Second, Twitter possesses two characteristics that historically have had intrinsic “value” — it is mobile and it is real time. In the entertainment space, this is golden.

Third, by charging the people who are consuming the content you achieve some incredible side effects. You don’t hamper growth because your content creators aren’t taxed. In fact, you are giving them a potential business model and the motivation to create great content. Apple has made this happen with the iPhone App Store (even without social hooks). In the process, Twitter becomes a real business with a foundation to draw in the support of mobile carriers and content distributors (like Apple) that could further simplify the billing/transaction process.

In the Britney case, her PR team might have realized that there could be real revenue in her Twitter presence. This incentive would create a huge differentiator for Twitter and lead to substantive promotion of her Twitter service. Great paid services will be catapulted by Twitter’s unbelievable network effect (even more so if Twitter would start announcing when users follow other users the way Facebook shows new friend relationships). In the same way that Calacanis and Scoble vie for ever larger crowds of followers, this would be replicated inside the entertainment industry on a larger scale.

The bigger these “supertwitterers” become the more opportunity they have open to them. What is it worth to Pepsi for Britney to twitter “drinking a pepsi” to 1M followers?

There are content creators that will take this publishing/monetization platform to new and unseen heights.

It’s there. Twitter just needs to change the game.