Darren Rovell May Be Only Customer For Darren Rovell's Twitter Payment Plan

By Ty Duffy

Twitter is having its 10th birthday. Darren Rovell wants to offer the service a “$4.5 Billion Gift,” by introducing a tiered payment model. That may be a slight exaggeration.

The crucial point is no one would have to pay for Twitter under Rovell’s plan. Service would stay the same for everyone. But, payments ranging from $1 to $10 per month would grant access to a range of adds ons, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Rovell thinks 45 percent  of Twitter users would upgrade to the pay service.

" What should have Twitter executives salivating is the fact that 36 percent of people, without any changes made to the platform or promises of any enhancement it seems, are willing to pay $12 to $60 a year for the product. My guess is that with an “up sell” of an enhanced product, 6–10 percent of the people who said they would pay nothing would be converted, which puts us at, say, 45 percent. "

We’re a little skeptical of his figuring. The numbers are based on Rovell’s own Twitter poll.

What Rovell asked is how much users would be willing to pay for their current service. Under Rovell’s plan no one would have to pay anything to retain their current service. He doesn’t ask users whether they would voluntarily pay for X enhancements. We’d guess that number is much, much, much lower than his estimate of 45 percent.

What his poll, if we can extrapolate from Rovell followers, indicates is a strong majority of active, responsive Twitter users value the service less than a spot in a parking garage or a barista tip. Any forced pay model for the present service would cause a massive decline in users (which is why Rovell does not suggest it).

Twitter needs to monetize. But, inherent to that process is finding a purpose. User growth has stagnated. Other apps and outlets are surpassing and supplanting it for general users. Multiple sports media entities are using their Twitter accounts to promote Snapchat.

Even for power (media) users it is becoming less relevant. The value for sharing content on Twitter is falling. For example, Rovell touts the popularity of that poll. Live for more than 24 hours, 31,311 people (as of this writing) have responded. That’s 2.4 percent engagement from Rovell’s 1.28 million followers (if we assume all respondents are followers). It earned 56 retweets (.00004 percent). And Rovell, as Rovell will tell you, has a very strong Twitter presence.

Twitter’s value remains the breaking news stream. (a) That declines as it becomes less important for sharing content. (b) That’s something Facebook or another service could coopt. (c) That’s something that may not be worth the side effects that stem from it.

That’s before you address the problem that for many it seems to be becoming a negative, if not vicious experience.

So, Darren Rovell may be willing to pay $100 per year for his premium plan. Not sure he’ll have many followers.