Twitter can't seem to do anything about the constant appearances of the fail whale, but it has begun to get serious about making money. Promoted Tweets, designed to post at the top of streams for relevant searches, appears to have become a stepping stone to the service introduced Tuesday, @earlybird. Don't take this service at face value. There's more to come. It will give paid search adverting on engines real competition as these streams are indexed in Google and Bing/Yahoo search queries
We've begun to see the interlocking pieces of the technology Twitter developed during the past year, along with the acquisitions made and the reason why venture capitalist invested more than $100 million, valuing the company at around $1 billion.
Although not available today, @earlybird will rely on geo-location technology to target tweets and collect data through apps built by technology acquired from San Mateo, Calif.-based Mixer Labs to provide the data to support campaigns.
Tweeters who follow this nascent ad network-like service get a glimpse into the supply and time sensitive deals and offers from some of the top international brands. And although the Twitter account has few loyalists as of Thursday morning, all the 18,000 followers need to do is tweet the retweets to spread those thousands into millions. You get the picture.
@earlybird's timely deals from brands and sponsors who pay Twitter to enter the search stream will determine the terms of the offer, including availability, amount and price. The feature, though a nice addition to promote products and services through a social marketing strategy, needs the ability to filter deals in search queries by location. Putting the deals into categories will let consumers see only those that best fit their needs. Think relative targeted advertising.
Thinking also like an engineer rather than a marketer will bring in profits, not only for Twitter, but for the brands that rely on the service. Geo-location eventually will tie @earlybird tweets to Twitter followers, but serving them up on mobile devices with attached coupons would make it that much better. And limiting the offer to the first 100 people makes the coupon more valuable.
Promoting products through Twitter provides big returns for Virgin America. The airline not only launched its debut International flight from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Toronto through the network, but asked followers to name the bird as well.
Twitter has been a Mecca for some customers looking for better services from companies like Kohl's to JetBlue. It will become interesting to see if Twitter can keep up with the increasing number of people and tweets on the network. I'm getting a little tired of continually seeing the fail whale from overloaded servers.
And although Twitter boasts some amazing growth in numbers, think of duplicate content across the Web. The 800 million search queries per day Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone quoted at a conference earlier this week could have been a little inflated. Twitter's search query numbers could include searches from TweetDeck and Seesmic, apps that automate calls send out every few minutes to populate columns users set up to see tweets on specific topics.