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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New! Disruptive Analysis Premium Twitter subscription stream @DApremium - sign up today at an introductory promotional rate

What am I doing? 

I am launching the first analyst paid channel for Twitter: a subscription for "premium" exclusive tweets of my analysis, opinion and market observations.

Why am I doing this?

I've been using Twitter for over a year and a half, posting as @disruptivedean. I was a hold-out for a long time before grudgingly signing up. Although I've got a fairly good "reach" from it, I've been vocal in criticising it. I'd much prefer to just use something more useful like LinkedIn or Quora for "status" updates and more detailed discussions instead.

But unfortunately, Twitter is like tax - as an analyst, you have to grit your teeth and do it, painful, time-consuming and distasteful as it is. I end up spending time on Twitter that could be more profitably spent writing posts on this blog, advising clients or taking briefings. It adds cost, but brings little in the way of value or revenue.

There's a temporary warm feeling of "being part of something", and some undeniable self-validation in counting followers. But that's emotion, not business (and I don't use Twitter for my personal life).

One of the problems is that the main beneficiaries of Twitter are the Fourth Estate - journalists, and their digital equivalents and entourage: bloggers [no, I'm not one], PRs, marketing folk and analyst relations people. It does a lot of their job for them. Unsurprisingly, this group of users then promotes it as being the best thing since sliced bread, since for them, it probably is. As a result, it's become table-stakes, and because I've had to do it, I've tried to do it well.

I spoke recently at an IIAR (Institute of Industry Analyst Relations) debate about social media, and described Twitter's realtime platform as "seductive but irrelevant" to the work of an analyst, with little or no real value. 
So today, I'm hoping to change that. To use a telecoms metaphor, I'm "monetising the opinion pipe". I'm launching a premium Twitter channel, open only to paying subscribers or my existing clients. I'm keeping @disruptivedean but adding @DApremium

How will it work?

Ideally, Twitter (or, preferably, one of its better rivals) would have had a ready-made freemium + revshare platform, but at present I'm having to work it out with a mix of "protected" Tweets and offline payment through other channels. Looking about online, it looks like there were a couple of experiments doing paid Twitter streams around 2009, but I'm not aware of anything that currently does what I want.

This is experimental. It's genuinely disruptive. I'm not aware of anyone else doing this successfully. It's possible that Twitter may take a dim view and try & shut it down. Or it's possible that the model becomes more widely successful and I get bragging rights in a couple of years' time, albeit wishing I'd set it up as a software platform instead & sold it for a huge sum.

Clearly, most analyst firms offer various subscription models for their content and advice. This is not something that Disruptive Analysis has not done to date, preferring to use a mix of free content via this blog, as well as standalone published reports, papers and advisory services. A paid subscription Twitter stream, at a low price, fits into the trend towards providing analyst material in short, pithy, concise bursts.

I will maintain this blog at its current frequency, for longer & more analytical pieces. Depending on the response to @DApremium, I may add extra pay-walled material for subscribers in 2012. I'll also keep my free Twitter stream, especially for discussions and interactions, and as a marketing tool.

What's the deal?

So... what does @DApremium offer?
  • My best insights and discoveries, delivered immediately. My existing blog & Twitter readers will recognise the regular "I told you so" moments. Future epiphanies will be on @DApremium
  • 1000+ exclusive tweets per year (not retweetable, no forwarding allowed)
  • A bias towards tweets which name & analyse specific vendors / organisations / operators
  • The bulk of any conference coverage on @DApremium
  • Answers to specific subscriber questions on @DApremium where feasible
  • Additional content & benefits for @DApremium subscribers
  • The ability to interact with a narrower group of high-level industry figures, with a much better "signal to noise" ratio to the open Twitter. In future, may set up a separate forum on LinkedIn or elsewhere for more full debate & longer-format discussions.
(Incidentally, I'm willing to be quoted about @DApremium, as an example of business model innovation in social media, and monetising supposedly free services)

What are some examples?

I only set up @DApremium on 13th December, and I am putting up this page a day later. The first 20 tweets have been (from first to last):

1. The premium Twitter stream of @disruptivedean, exclusively for subscribers & clients. Vendor analysis, event streams, unique insights etc

2. RT @disruptivedean BBC iPlayer 3G streaming approach points to death of non-consensual video optimisation model bbc.in/uufHaA

3. My dislike of Twitter is well known, but if DApremium enables monetisation of the "opinion pipe", I'll admit to seeing the value in it.

4. 2 telcos clearly embracing Telco-OTT concepts most strategically today: Telefonica & Telenor. Most others have smaller tactical activities

5. EverythingEverywhere had 326TB data traffic in last year bit.ly/uTPsFq but 3UK claims 137TB per DAY bit.ly/vcsBKn

6. I know that 3UK has lot of USB dongles & is still unlimited, but find it hard to believe 50x or 100x data traffic of EE. Miscalculation?

7. BBC using HLS adaptive bitrate streaming: self-optimising content. Will be more important than in-network optimisers see.sc/GHBBrI

8. Ah, seems EverythingEverywhere 326TB traffic just applies to the sharing/roaming deal T-Mo/Orange, not "native" data on each network

9. Still a disparity though: 3UK=137TB with 6m subs, EE=maybe 50TB/day with 27m subs. Big difference is down to market share of 3G USB modems

10. Telcos likely to be net losers on API balance-of-trade with Google, Facebook etc. eg GMaps charging coverage checkers see.sc/JtEH3b

11. Trying to work out whether there are actually any real-world implementations LIPA or SIPTO offload standards yet. Some vendor support.

12. Interesting presentation on RCS-e: suggests Spain launch now early 2012, not 2011 after all. Embarassing for GSMA see.sc/c97hGw

13. Congrats 3GPP for saying user WIFi prefs take priority over MNO steering. From OPIIS docs "Solution shall allow UE to override rules"

14. Thinking a lot about impact of HTML5 on networks. Totally kills app-based policy - there could be 200m different versions of Facebook Mobile

15. 2012 is likely to see dampening of NFC hype. Where it happens, it will be driven by non-financial interactions, not transactions or purchase

16. Wondering if the attempt by network depts & 3GPP to "own" online charging infrastr is the most damaging strategic mistake by mobile industry

17. Nokia Lumia devices seem well-received & even selling out in some places. But is that just because nobody had the confidence to order many?

18. Rogers in Canada extending its subs' numbers & voice services over the web via an OTT-style CounterPath platform t.co/igvIaiz

19. Ericsson's slow & grudging embrace of small cells seems to reflect fears over cannibalisation & commoditisation http://see.sc/sAsqoE

20. Uploaded my intro preso on LTE ("A contrarian's view") that I gave at last week's Layer123 LTE/EPC event in London www.scribd.com/doc/75687759

I can send across some more recent tweets via email if you get in contact with me

What does it cost?

Pricing for a new service like this is difficult. There are few benchmarks. Obviously, full analyst subscriptions can cost $10s of thousands per year, but with much more content. Disruptive Analysis' own research reports (such as January's forthcoming Telco-OTT report) vary from $hundreds to $thousands. At the other end of the spectrum, consumers getting a daily horoscope via SMS can cost $140 a year.

Now, I'd like to think that my insight is worth rather more than an astrologist's, even in volume terms - you can expect at least 3x the number of messages per year.

How can I sign up / pay?

Given the relatively small transaction size, I'm hoping that the bulk of subscribers will use credit cards or Paypal.

EDIT 1st Feb 2012: The introductory discount pricing period has now finished. 
Please go to the new price-plan page here

If for some reason this doesn't work (sometimes PayPal can be a bit flaky), contact me via information AT disruptive-analysis DOT com and I can issue an invoice or payment email request.

You may want to send me an email anyway, or add me on LinkedIn so I can get to know my community a bit better. If you're an existing Disruptive Analysis client, please let me know and I can give you a complimentary subscription.

If you sign up - thanks for valuing my input, and recognising the value in a new form of analyst interaction & advisory delivery model. I'll share feedback as we go along, and I hope you find the service useful & thought-provoking.

The fine print

A full set of terms & conditions are available on request. Key terms include:

- @DApremium Tweets may not be retweeted, copied/pasted into other Twitter streams, forwarded via email or otherwise distributed.
- Subscriptions are per-user, with the expectation that a maximum of 3 people have access to any individual Twitter account. Corporations [eg company-wide accounts @XYZcorp] will need to contact Disruptive Analysis for access
- Unauthorised distribution will result in removal of the subscriber's ability to access @DApremium
- @DApremium subscriptions will last for 12 months from the date of payment. Renewal reminders will be sent 1 month and 1 week before expiry.
- Subscribers recognise the limitations of Twitter's 140-character posts - this means that abbreviations, approximations & concise statements are typical. Complex ideas, trademarks etc may need to be condensed, and nuances may be lost. Any issues with accuracy, clarity or disputes should be raised with Disruptive Analysis, which will use either Twitter, blog or other channels to make clarifications or corrections if necessary.
- Subscribers recognise that paid Twitter streams represent an innovative business model and may be subject to change because of circumstance beyond Disruptive Analysis' control
- In particular, Twitter may change its terms of service, block or delete the @DApremium account, or require a new payment mechanism
- If there are problems or interruptions to the @DApremium service, Disruptive Analysis will attempt to find alternative channels for delivering status updates. These could include LinkedIn, private blogs, other social networks or, if necessary, email lists
- I'll be travelling over the Xmas and New Year period until around Jan 10th, so posts over the next few weeks will be less frequent than during normal periods. This is part of the rationale behind making the intro subscriptions valid until 31st Jan 2013


Kevin Mitchell said...

Very interesting Dean. Best of luck! What happens if Twitter shuts it down and a suitable alternative isn't possible or desirable? Pro-rated refund?

Dean Bubley said...

Hi Kevin

Yes, if all else fails I'll do a pro-rata refund. But I think it should be possible to do a private group with LinkedIn or even a classic web forum if I need to.

To be honest, I couldn't see anything in Twitter's Terms of Service that I'm contravening with this, but who knows?


Max the Sax said...

Congratulations Dean, you have now monetised Twitter better than Twitter has monetised Twitter!