Memo to Twitter: Start Charging And Kill the Fail Whale

Memo to Twitter: Start Charging And Kill the Fail Whale

twitter_fail_whaleRewind two years and I thought Twitter was a fatal distraction that harmed business productivity. Fast forward to the present and I now believe Twitter is a communications channel that can boost sales and trigger new customer engagements. But here's the problem: Twitter needs to move from the "Fail Whale" mentality (where frequent outages are acceptable) to a dial-tone mentality (where Twitter never dies). For that to happen Twitter needs to start charging for some services. Here's why.

First, let's take a look at MSPmentor's own use of Twitter. Our parent company, Nine Lives Media Inc., has multiple Twitter feeds (@MSPmentor, @TheVARguy, @WorksWithU) with more than 7,000 combined followers. More recently we've unveiled www.MSPtweet.com (the loudest tweets in managed services and www.VARtweet.com (the loudest tweets in the IT channel).

So far, so good. But like all Twitter users, we're at the mercy of Twitter's reliability. And frankly, the Fail Whale -- the icon Twitter uses to communicate a system outage -- has been surfacing far too often lately. Since Twitter is free, just about anybody can pump messages through the system. And just about anybody does -- leading to system failures that would embarrass a typical business. But for Twitter, it's as if system outages are part of a corporate culture. That needs to change.

Pay for Play?

One potential solution involves Twitter charging for service -- perhaps introducing a fee based on the number of followers you attract, or a fee based on the number of monthly messages you pump through the system. That pay-for-play approach would potentially force spammers off the system. And it would also force businesses to carefully consider how they use Twitter. And finally, Twitter could reinvest the dough in capacity planning.

I love "free" just as much as the next guy or gal. But it's time for Twitter to grow up and solve its system outage problem. Hunt down the Fail Whale.

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