ExecTweets – new service from Twitter for corporate executives

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Digital media’s hottest startup has online social networkers twittering about its first effort to drive revenue and build a viable business model.

Twitter Inc., the so-called microblogging platform that has taken pop culture by storm in recent months, has launched a Web site sponsored by Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) called “ExecTweets.” Microsoft declined to say how much it paid to sponsor the site, which is designed to allow corporate executives to message Twitter users.

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Twitter’s move, coming just over a month after the company raised $35 million in venture capital and almost five months after it refused a $500 million buyout offer from Facebook Inc., offers the first glimpse into how Twitter will attempt to make money as online social networks struggle to spin their fast-growing audiences into gold.

Twitter, with just 29 employees in San Francisco, has seen its Web traffic grow 900% over the past year as politicians, business leaders and celebrities have made headlines with their tweets, and Web users from around the world have flocked to the service.

Comscore recently reported that Twitter.com was one of the fastest growing online social networks in February with over 4 million unique visitors for the month, up from 123,000 for the same month last year. It was the 14th largest online community that month, behind networks like MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn.

As its users gain large online followings, Twitter has been increasingly viewed as a potent, viral marketing tool for brands trying to tap the vast reach of the Internet, even as the company hadn’t earned a dollar from its service.

“ExecTweets is an early example of ways that major companies can use Twitter and other social networks for marketing.”
Matthew Dipietro

ExecTweets.com seeks to become a revenue generator for Twitter. The site aggregates tweets, or short bursts of text using Twitter’s online messaging platform, from executives at major U.S. companies and organizations, like Coca-Cola Co. (KO), Best Buy Co. (BBY) and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, allowing those executives to talk directly to the millions on Twitter.

Matthew Dipietro, director of marketing with Federated Media, the ad networking firm that built the site, said ExecTweets is an early example of ways that major companies can use Twitter and other social networks for marketing. He noted that many companies have been leery of lending their brands to the uncontrolled online platforms created by social networks, but that is changing.

“The question isn’t about whether you should or shouldn’t be on social networks. The question now is how do you do it,” Dipietro said.

By Nat Worden
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
The full article can be found here: http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20090325-705583.html

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