Twitter tries to secure future, preserves past

In the span of just a few days, Twitter has arguably assured its survival. Not bad for a company that before this month had no source of revenue.

Last week, Twitter began experimenting with what it calls “Promoted Tweets,” the first type of advertising on the site.  Twitter has already witnessed a big response from potential advertisers.

Biz Stone, one of Twitter’s founders, said on his blog that numerous companies, including Best Buy, Red Bull and Sony Pictures, have already signed up to advertise on Twitter.

A “Promoted Tweet” would appear if a user were to search something that pertained to that company’s product. For instance, if a user searched for coffee on Twitter, an advertisement from Starbucks could possibly appear.

This business model is the same as Internet conglomerate Google uses on its search engine to get results. And with an estimated 18 billion searches on its site per month, Twitter could join Google, which has about 88 billion searches per month, as an economic giant in the tech world, according to Search Engine Land.

Not everyone is convinced of the inevitable success of Twitter’s search advertising. Connie Bauer, marketing professor in the College of Business Administration, said Twitter will not have nearly the amount of success Google has had in the search advertising field.

“When people do a search on Google, they are often looking for a product or service,” Bauer said in an e-mail. “Therefore, a paid ad by a company for that product or service may be of interest.”

She added most people use Twitter for finding other people, not necessarily products.

“It will be interesting to see if people respond to any paid ads that show up in a search,” she said.

Bauer said Twitter will most likely start putting advertisements on users’ homepages, which she said would be unpopular with most of Twitter’s population. She said Twitter will most likely have two types of accounts in the future — free accounts with ads, and paid accounts with no ads.

While Twitter’s future remains up in the air, its past will be documented forever. Last Thursday, April 15 not only was tax deadline day for Americans, but also the date Twitter announced it will donate its entire digital archive to the Library of Congress.

The two-century-old federal building that houses such works as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will now electronically hold such tweets as user @sophielovespink’s “A drunk man has just peed all over the top deck.”

James Billington, the Librarian of Congress, said these tweets will be important to future generations who want to understand this era.

“The Twitter digital archive has extraordinary potential for research into our contemporary way of life,” Billington said in a news release. “This information provides details evidence about how technology based social networks form and evolve over time.”

Some Twitter users, however, are uncomfortable with the thought of their tweets surviving for future historians’ use.

Paul Lambert, a sophomore in the College of Communication, said he believes it is unnecessary for Twitter to be included into the Library of Congress.

“People a few hundred years from now do not need to read the amazingly pointless tweets from self-absorbed people,” Lambert said. “Plus, I think it is an invasion of privacy that Twitter is permanently saving the things I have tweeted without my permission.”