Twitter recently acquired Fluther in a talent acquisition. However, I hope that Twitter takes that talent and creates the greatest Q&A service. Not only do I think that Twitter can create the best but I also think that it could attract new people to the service. New users = more money! So, what I want to do with this post is go over what I think Twitter should do and how they can monetize it!
I’m not sure if Twitter would want to do this because it adds a “level of complication.” New users would need to learn that regular tweets are done by the “Tweet” button and that Questions are done by the “Ask” button. Doesn’t seem like a big deal but I’m sure there will be many who don’t know how to use the service properly.
The ask button would be the key part. What I envision is that when someone pushes the “Ask” button they will be directed to a question thread where other’s can come and answer the question. The page will be like the Quora Question page but it will be real time. Answers will pop up instantaneously. The only part I’m not sure of is how the service should go about making these question pages. Should they make a page for every question asked or should they redirect users to an already asked question page. For instance, suppose user X asks Question 1 (Q1 from here on). Then that user Y asks Q2. If Q2=Q1, should Y be redirected to X’s question or should a whole new question page be created? This wouldn’t fix the problem of semantic question redundancy, but it would fix a literal question redundancy. That is, it would fix word-for-word question redundancy but not meaning-for-meaning redundancy. Unless they have some sort of algorithm for that.
The service as it stands is amazing already but it needs an addicting characteristic. It needs to serve relevant questions to users. It could get boring if the questions being served are irrelevant or impossible to answer because you’re not in that particular field. Twitter already has a lot of information about the people you follow and what field they’re in. If you follow a lot of people in the financial sector, it should serve you proportional amount of financial questions. If you follow a ton of celebrities, you should be served a lot of celebrity/gossip questions. It’s easy and I’m sure that Twitter can implement this with ease.
More importantly, I think there should be a mobile aspect to it. This is where it’s going to be amazing for Twitter. When someone asks a question about LA Taco Trucks, they should be allowed to tag their city. It then should serve the question over to people who are in LA and have shown interest in the Taco Truck industry. When mobile hit’s Q&A it will change the industry for ever. In an unrelated note, there is also the question about the 140 character limit. Should Twitter keep the 140 character limit for questions? This is one of the reasons that the “Ask” button, location tags and possibly topic tags are important. If people include these in the tweet box it might be too limiting.
Although this service would already be very social I think there should be another social layer. It might be the part that makes it even more addicting. When the thread get’s going there should be “up” and “down” votes for the people answering questions. This will help Twitter create Q&A rankings for people. Those who answer correctly will be rewarded (so will those who answer incorrectly but wittily). Will it have some problems? Yeah sure, but it’s going to be fun. It’s social. Answers don’t always have to be right. As things settle maybe the right answerers will win. But then again…
Making That Scrilla (Money)
Well, this is a good service and all, but how can we pay for it?! There are two ways that Twitter can make money off of this. One is more likely than the other. I’m going to start with the most likely monetization candidate.
Since what I’m suggesting involves creating a whole new page for the question itself, what Twitter can do is put Google like advertisements on the sides. This would mean that they should make the Question Page look like Old Twitter. This will allow for not just text-based ads but display ads. What’s important here is that those answering and those who are asking the question will be directly interested in the content and hopefully content-related ads. This is the simplest and most obvious way to monetize the Q&A service.
This might seem really stupid from the get go. Twitter is already a free service where lots of celebrities answer questions for free. However, Twitter could make some money by having a pay-per-answer from celebrities. Those who have been verified could enter this program. People could pay a dollar per question and Twitter splits it 50/50. This will give celebrities an incentive to answer questions and it will give user an incentive to ask them questions (i.e. they answer their questions). Of course, this is a much more complicated affair because some people might be disgruntled by the answers they paid for. For example, if a user asks Celebrity X something, and X says “no comment.” That can cause a problem. But then maybe someone can ask “Who are the worst celebrities to ask questions to?”