Twitter has introduced another advertising service, hoping to generate revenue this time by promoting special offers, events and one-time deals from marketers.
Called @earlybird, the programme works in a Twitter-like straightforward and simple manner: Twitter will manage the @earlybird account, where it will post special deals on behalf of participating vendors, and users who follow @earlybird will receive these messages. Companies will pay Twitter a fee to have their products and services promoted via @earlybird.
"Many of you use Twitter to stay on top of timely, relevant information, and lots of businesses are already sharing special offers on Twitter. We believe that surfacing deals through the @earlybird account will help you discover the best of those deals, as well as find and follow accounts that consistently provide exceptional value," reads an @earlybird information page on Twitter's site.
How Twitter will build a sustainable business has been a favourite topic for conversation among industry observers, who have wondered whether the company will be able to generate revenue on par with its massive popularity. Twitter users posted about 2 billion messages in May, according to Pingdom.
The Twitter system, which lets account holders post text messages of up to 140 characters, is used by individuals to broadcast personal updates, by public figures to communicate with fans and by vendors to connect with customers.
In April, Twitter launched the advertising programme Promoted Tweets with a roster of initial participants that included Best Buy, Bravo, Red Bull, Sony Pictures, Starbucks and Virgin America.
With Promoted Tweets, marketers can broadcast their Twitter messages beyond the list of people who actively "follow" their account by having the messages also appear as ads on other Twitter sections, like alongside search results.
The new @earlybird service is currently focused on offers for US audiences, although Twitter expects the scope to soon broaden internationally. Later, @earlybird subscribers will be able to configure more granular preferences, so that they only see offers relevant to a specific city or to specific interests, such as music.
In addition to beefing up its revenue-generating services, Twitter has been busy this past month dealing with recurrent technical problems that have affected significantly the availability and stability of its site and of the platform that sustains external applications.
Twitter also last month settled a complaint from the US Federal Trade Commission, which accused Twitter of deceiving users and risking their privacy through lax security safeguards.