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Startups, brands and companies should probably be on Twitter, but what if they don't know how?
Many of the top stories published in the past day of Twitter raising $200 million at a $3.7 billion valuation from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers seem to have one sub-headline in common: “but where’s the business model?” Why is Twitter getting a $200 million check, nearly as much as the total amount of Kleiner’s sFund for the Facebook platform alone, when the San Francisco startup has yet to show that it can turn a profit?
Well then, what better time for Twitter to prove it means business.
On the same day that Twitter announced its new gigantic funding round, the company launched a revamped version of its resource called Twitter for Business, the one stop hub for information on how to use Twitter for your business.
“We’ve seen tremendous growth in the creative ways businesses and organizations are leveraging Twitter, and we want to make sure you have access to their great ideas,” writes Carolyn Penner at Twitter Communications. “We’ll continue to update the site with fresh use cases, tips, tools, and resources.”
The site has three sections. The first, “Learn the Basics,” touches only on the most rudimentary facts about Twitter and how it’s used (watch your back, Grovo). For example, did you know that Twitter is a self-described information network, not a social site like so many tend to think? From the very first page of the site, the company lays down its vision of what it can offer companies:
As a business, you can use Twitter to quickly share information, gather market intelligence and insights, and build relationships with people who care about your company. Often, there is already a conversation about your business happening on Twitter.
The basic section also includes a glossary on basic Twitter terms (retweet, hashtag, etc.), a list of best practices for businesses on the site and the significance of mobile to the site as a whole.
From there on, the site gets into the nitty gritty, highlighting four company case studies (Best Buy, Etsy, JetBlue and Moxie) in detail as well as introducing the almost infinite extensions of Twitter via widgets and the open API.
In the last section, Twitter shifts its focus to the company’s latest favorite form of income--advertising via Promoted Products. We’ve covered the suite, which includes Promoted Tweets, Trends and Accounts, extensively before because, though still experimental, it seems like a creative approach to advertising on a site that seemed to have no hope for revenue. While company executives only speak about Promoted Products in a positive light, the suite has not yet proven itself definitively.
And that, in the end, is the entire point of Twitter for Business. No one--not businesses nor Twitter--know quite exactly how to harness the information network to best market a brand. But everyone knows it’s important. It will be interesting to see how the business hub, and business on Twitter in general, evolves.
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What is Twitter?
Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from Twitter.com, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests.
Where did the idea for Twitter come from?
Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.
How is Twitter built?
Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes.
We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.
How do you make money from Twitter?
There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.
In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within Twitter.com, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet.
At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.
Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on Virginamerica.com that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.
What's next for Twitter?
We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users.
We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.
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Grovo is the leading online platform that trains users on top Internet tools and cloud services with 60-second, personalized videos.
Featuring 3,500+ video lessons covering 100+ Internet tools and cloud services – and 15 lessons added daily - Grovo is the fastest and easiest way to become a better Internet user. With coverage, tools and training ideal for consumers, businesses, educators, and governments, users in 150 countries are using Grovo to work smarter and sharpen their Internet skills.
For organizations and enterprises Grovo’s lightweight training dashboard, Grovo for Teams, enables employee training on the Internet tools, sites, and trends they need to stay ahead.
Founded in 2010, Grovo is a privately-held online education company headquartered in New York City.