Twitter features that I'd pay for

I'm becoming dependent on Twitter, so much so that I'd happily pay for features that make my Twitter experience richer.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has suggested that "Twitter's a success for us when people stop talking about it," perhaps particularly its business model (or lack thereof). Unfortunately, either it's a success and I didn't get the memo, or it still has room to improve.

Assuming the latter, here are a few things that I'd gladly pay to have added to the Twitter service.

  • The ability to lock in my user name. Facebook just launched personalized namespaces, but added the unnecessary drama of name-squatting . I was early enough to Twitter (and Facebook) that I got my preferred 'handle' on both (mjasay). Given the importance of having a consistent name/brand across services, however, I'd gladly pay for the right to lock in my preferred name. (Speaking of which, whoever it is that has "mjasay" on AIM, I'll buy it from you.)
  • Quality of service. Twitter is not a matter of life and death for me, but given how often the service has gone down, I'd be willing to pay for a premium account with a service-level agreement. This likely isn't a standalone feature for which I'd pay but as part of a larger subscription? Sure.
  • Quality of experience. Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails recently gave up on Twitter and other social media services due to the prevalence of "Metal Sludge" that hounds him. While I don't yet experience this on Twitter (except once and I simply blocked that person's Tweets and haven't seen or heard from them since), it's a daily fact of my blogging life. I assume it will come to Twitter, too. I'd happily pay to be able to pre-filter commentators that make their points in less-than-diplomatic fashion.
  • Private Twitter communities. There are some things I'd like to tweet to friends and/or family, to business colleagues, etc. At present, however, I'm unaware of a service that lets me segment my "followers" to point tweets at certain groups. Rather than bore followers with personal shout-outs and what not, I tend to keep my tweets to lowest-common denominator content. I wish I could send different messages to different groups. I'd pay for that.
  • Integrated 'long-form' communication. Sometimes a conversation is best continued beyond the 140-character barrier, but in many circumstances I'd prefer to keep it within the confines of Twitter, rather than giving out my IM or email addresses. It would be great to pay for an extended Twitter service that gives the option to open private chat rooms within Twitter to carry on a conversation that started with a 140-character tweet.
  • Commissions on marketing leads. Dell makes over $2 million by distributing special offers through its @DellOutlet. There must be some value-added service that Twitter could provide to companies like Dell to help track leads sourced through its service? While this is something that I, the consumer, wouldn't pay for, surely it's something that Dell would?

I've been a harsh critic of Twitter in times past , but I've become a big fan. I'm enough of a fan that I'd happily pay for premium features that help me get more from my Twitter experience. How about you? What would you pay for?

Follow me on Twitter @mjasay.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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