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This Bird Intends to Fly: Observations on Twitter From the YPO Conference

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The company has plans to make Twitter the most influential social marketing platform in the world.

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Editor's note: Rick Milenthal is the Chairman of Engauge, one of the nation's largest independent agencies. He has spent more than twenty-five years in the advertising and marketing industries. Before launching Engauge, he served as chairman of TenUnited and Worldwide Partners, Inc. The following article was first published on Rick Milenthal.com.

I first heard of Twitter from Fred Wilson at Union Square Ventures. I was golfing with him at his club in Westchester, invited by Razor and Tie's Craig Balsam, a mutual friend.

Fred had just met the founders of Twitter a few days earlier and described the then-unheard-of concept to me. My brilliant reply was, "Fred, that is the stupidest idea I've ever heard." The rest of the story is venture history. Fred led his firm to a stake in the start-up with exponential returns. I'm still an ad guy from Ohio.

So, when I was fortunate enough to visit with the Twitter leadership along with 70 worldwide CEOs from YPO companies at the "Business is Social" conference in the Bay area, I listened a lot more carefully than I did to Fred that day. Once a fool, twice an imbecile.

And, I was surprised with what I heard. You see, until last week I still believed that Twitter did not know how to monetize. But Twitter COO Adam Bain and his team spelled out their plans for being the most influential social marketing platform in the world-and the best for brand marketers to leverage.

They started by sharing the promoted Tweet, a concept introduced six months ago by Twitter and growing in popularity. But what impressed me the most was Twitter's intentions on how to charge advertisers. Basically, they are deploying a bidding process on a per-follower basis. In this manner, if a marketer can calculate the metrics for conversion from follower to customer, then they can be very effective in calculating profitable bids for followers.

The power of this medium is further enhanced by how easy it is to use on mobile hardware. Twitter usage on the Apple (AAPL) iPhone 4 is considerably easier than any Facebook mobile APP. The ease of use in mobile with a performance-based advertising model means that marketers will find Twitter to be very effective. And the unobtrusive manner in which the promoted Tweet is presented will not offend users.

All in all, I intend to recommend Twitter to many clients and portfolio companies in my investments. And I see Twitter leadership more open to try new ideas for monetization.

I may have missed Twitter as an investment but I have no intention of missing its flight into a marketing powerhouse. It will not be coming in for a landing any time soon.


Twitter: @Minyanville

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