Twitter reported in June that users contribute the equivalent of a “10 million page book” to their site daily. So it’s easy for them to be profitable when they have mountains of free content? User generated content has a storied history dating back to the start of the Web (sometimes referred to as Web 1.0), and early on the “social web” was seen as unglamorous compared to the glory of Web 2.0. The marketing community in particular sees the value in Twitter in a way that was unimaginable just seven years ago.
Jack Dorsey (@jack) created the original Twitter in 2006 and was most interested in the value of user’s submitted status updates. Their revenue model wasn’t in place until April, 2010. No fewer than five monetization plans were floated publicly before the promoted tweet was launched April, 2010. In fact, just yesterday Dorsey said in an interview with CNET: ”The business model is focused around serendipity.” Larry Page and Sergey Brin also had no solid business plan for years, and wound up radically changing the face of marketing.
All but lost to history is the fact that Barnes and Noble may be the first large brick and mortar corporation to believe in the value of Web chat or web based conversation. I previously wrote about their first Website initiative, loci.com. I was there on day one as one five graduate student managers working to seed content for student visitors to the site to chat about online.
True, Jeff Bezos, who’d never run any company, figured out how to sell books online, and Amazon has the highest market valuation of any Ecommerce website today. That’s another subject, but Barnes & Noble was only partly about books. They were affiliated with Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, Inc., which at the time was owned and operated by the founder of Barnes and Noble, Inc. Both companies had a tight partnership with companies selling merchandise and services to students. Barnes and Noble missed the Ecommerce trend, but they saw forward to the Web 2.O era when engagement and community on a webpage created value for marketing.