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If you had to pay for Twitter, what would you expect in return?

Premium accounts have the potential to make Twitter more useful for PR professionals

As I pointed out earlier this week, more than 8,000 news articles have mentioned the micromessaging service Twitter in the past year. So why would I want to pile on with a post about the latest rumors surrounding Twitter’s potential business models? It seems more than 6,000 bloggers have weighed in on the topic this week alone. Besides, we write this blog for public relations professionals, who, as long as Twitter keeps providing free accounts to individuals (co-founder Biz Stone has said it will), have no obvious reason to care about the site’s ability to make money. But if the buzz is true, and Twitter will begin to offer premium, commercial accounts to businesses, how could the service be enhanced  to make it more useful for those willing to pay for it? Haven’t seen much talk about that yet.

Thousands of PR pros are now using Twitter to reach out to journalists, develop relationships with potential clients, monitor discussion of the brands they represent, and engage their target communities directly. Here at Cision, we’ve used Twitter in a variety of ways.  We use it to solicit potential sources and ideas for this blog. We use it to address client questions, take part in discussions during our Webinars, and so on. In fact, we’re a pretty good case study in how a new communications tool can bring people from different departments together to collaborate, but that’s a topic for another time. I reached out to a few folks here who use Twitter professionally, and we came up with these ideas for how the service could be made more useful in a premium version:

  • The ability to create more extensive profiles and bios about a company and its employees
  • Support for multiple users with access to the same username
  • The ability to assign individual tweets to those users for follow-up (the following blatant plug is highly relevant, I promise: the Cision Social Media Dashboard powered by Radian6 has a workflow tool that provides this function for tweets, blog posts, forums and more)
  • Better capability to sort and store tweets by date or keyword

All of these ideas have one thing in common, of course: they seek to bring some semblance of order to the big free-for-all discussion that takes place on Twitter, or at least, the ability to sort and prioritize it better. To some, the idea of having multiple users under the same username will smack of the corporatization of a tool that’s supposed to be about free-form individualism. Could individuals’ identities be displayed along with an overall company username to mitigate that? Are there other ways to preserve the site’s feel while making it easier to use for the many who bring their professional endeavors there? After all, even if you feel that Twitter is overhhyped, it’s clearly no toy: it’s often pointed out that Dell has generated more than $1 million through its Twitter sales alerts.

I’d also like to point out that Cision has now added Twitter handles to its media database. As more journalists converse there, this has become just another form of contact, though admittedly a more truncated form, which is perhaps why harried reporters seem to take to it.

What capabilities would you like to see from a premium service option on Twitter?

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