The basic bidding model for search positions was pioneered by the founders of GoTo, now Overture/Yahoo. Their initial premise was simple. To get to the top of the search results you paid more per click than the person below you, against a set of defined keywords.
That model has evolved and is a multi billion dollar global industry and made the founders very wealthy. Their company, Idealabs is now looking to repeat this success with TweetUp, a service that allows you to bid for exposure based against keywords of your choice.
If we put aside the name issue (I thought a tweetup involved meeting people…) the plan seems logical. You get to bid against the keywords you feel most relevant to you and they will promote your profile above others. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Er, maybe not. Whilst I wait for them to analyse my account so I can start bidding, I have five concerns that need to be addressed if this is going to be big…
1. Who is going to see my profile?
The initial site is not exactly clear where and how your profile will be seen. Certainly it won’t be on Twitter.com but on a number of content partners including Seesmic, Answers.com and Twidroid. The revenue share opportunity in their partner program will encourage other traffic sources to join. But will this be a new column or a directory like Tweetdeck?
The challenge, like any growing search network will be traffic and exposure. The clout of the founders will open doors but they will need to work fast to grow. Remember Miva? No? They were the search contender once. This needs to be another Overture, not another MIVA if it is to gain real traction.
2. What are my keywords?
I have signed up for a trial and included a bunch of words relevant to me, “iPad apps, apps, iPhone apps etc. and Pink Floyd”… so hopefully if this goes well I will gain higher profile for my work on apps. But I already have that in Wefollow, admittedly on five words. How many words can I have? Will they be providing exposure estimates based on keywords? As I was one of the first hundred entrants I should expect exposure with real growth opportunities.
3. Hang on, what am I paying for?
The TweetUp bidding system will evolve rapidly based on your feedback and our collective learning. The minimum bid is 1 cent per impression and for the free trial period all keywords entered are assumed to be 1 cent. As the trial period nears its end, we will notify you so that you can place custom bids on each keyword. We look forward to your feedback as you use the system, both during and after the trial period.
OK, so if it is exposure, I assume to gain more exposure I need to pay more. Fair enough, but do we have any conversion rates to base this on? If I get 10,000 views on the apps terms I don’t know if this will give me any followers of note? I guess their argument will be, like titles and descriptions, that it is up to me to have a good profile and attractive twitter stream. I best go and do my hair…
4. How am I going to track this?
If I booked space on TwitterCounter I would see a rapid spike in followers. That is because I have an idea of the potential followers from my investment and because they have a large audience base. (Disclosure: TNW is a TwitterCounter shareholder) Unless there is a massive traffic spike immediately with tweetup, I am not sure how I will know the difference. Now, if they launch with a stats package like you would get on a search campaign then that will be a help. They are still analysing my account before they open the magic doors.
5. What if I get spam followers?
This is a challenge for any of these profile boosters, am I paying just for spam accounts to follow me? I guess that is just par for the course but it will be a judgement criteria when measuring success of the initial investment.
These are early days, and I hope these questions will be answered. The founder’s pedigree shouldn’t be ignored but lightening doesn’t always strike twice. These questions may all be answered as soon as they open the doors (I was one of the first thousand sign uperers).
Now if it is succesful, will it be bad for Twitter? Look how web pages work to optimise against keywords and phrases in search (natural and paid). Even with strict editorial guidelines they can still kill search results (don’t get me started about searching for hotels on Google). Will this happen with TweetUp and Twitter? I genuinely hope not, we have enough issue with bots and human run accounts over promoting.
As soon as my account is live I will post further thoughts and insight. Have you had a look at Tweetup? Would you pay for more followers?