Twitter Simplifies In Bid to Engage More Users
Twitter Simplifies In Bid to Engage More Users

10 Need-to-Know Twitter Stats
-- HubSpot, a maker of Internet marketing software, has a good list of 10 essential Twitter stats online at SlideShare. Slide No. 3 is worth paying attention to: 87% of Americans have heard of Twitter but only 7% actually use it, according to Edison Research (2010). That data comes from last year, but that gap between awareness and usage is pretty incredible.

Another year-old piece of information, on slide No. 5, says the average Twitter user has 27 followers. That gives a good idea of how many people will see a typical tweet or retweet. Slide No. 7 shows that Twitter users are relatively wealthy compared to the general population (again, Edison Research from 2010). The greatest disparity between users and non-users comes from the $50,000 to $75,000 income group -- 23% use Twitter, 15% do not. Slide No. 8 shows the ways in which Twitter users are early adopters of new products. And slide No. 9 shows that Twitter plays an active role in purchasing decisions.

So what can you take from all this? First, Twitter users are not representative of the entire U.S. population (at least when these numbers were put together in 2010). They're relatively wealthy and early to new products and services. All in all, they're an adventurous, curious, well-educated bunch. If that's who you're trying to reach via Twitter, you might be able to find a good audience. But remember that laggards and late adopters make good customers, too. So you might need to use other social media or Internet marketing tools to reach them.

NYT Sings Up 100K Subscribers In Last Weeks of March
-- Subscription business model update: The New York Times signed up 100,000 subscribers in the last couple weeks of March. The company put up its digital pay wall on March 17. So the company nabbed 100,000 paying customers in just two weeks (the quarter ended March 31). Online plus mobile access costs $15 every four weeks, online plus tablet access goes for $20 every four weeks and access from any device costs $35 every four weeks.

One hundred thousand subscribers is a great start, but the real test will be how the Times hangs onto those subscribers. You see, in that 100,000 figure are people who signed up for the initial trial offer of 99-cents for four weeks. On one hand, you might expect the Times to retain a small portion of its $1 trial subscribers. After all, Spotify converts about 10% of all registered users, and about 14% of Pandora's revenue comes from paying customers. On the other hand, the Times did get credit card information for all 100,000 of those subscribers and is most likely working on a well-worded marketing campaign to win their patronage at full price.

A decent toehold in subscriptions could really help the company's financials. In the first quarter of 2011, the Times' digital revenue increased 6.1% to $95.9 million from $90.4 million. Digital advertising accounted for $83.6 of that $95.9 million of digital revenue. The entire company's overall revenue dropped 3.2% to $535.4 million and net income dropped 63.1% to $5.2 million. If all 100,000 initial subscribers stuck around to pay $15 every four weeks for the rest of the year, the Times would take in somewhere in the ballpark of $13 million in subscription revenue. And that's just the people who signed up in the first two weeks after the paywall went live.
(MediaMemo, Press release)

What If the Record Biz Adopted A Software Licensing Model?

--What would happen if the record business adopted a software licensing model? A blog post at JY Design insists such a "buy once, download whenever" model would help. "Can you imagine losing your only copy of an App along with your iDevice only to be told you had to re-buy that app? … The App purchasing model let the consumer-friendly online purchase genie out of the bottle. Buy once, re-download when you need to, is the new norm." Now that's convenience.

But does such a model offer permanent ownership, as argues? No, not really. Permanent ownership was seen in the long lines on Record Store Day. People were standing in line not just because Record Store Day items were scarce (they definitely were limited in nature), but also because physical items allow the benefits of permanent ownership. A buyer can keep, gift or auction a piece of vinyl. The owner can listen to the music even after the companies in the supply chain -- label, distributor and retailer -- have gone out of business.

In contrast, a digital item's degree of permanent ownership is immediately lowered by the fact it cannot be resold under the first-sale doctrine. And if the supporting companies go out of business, change their terms of service or stop supporting the product, the buyer has no recourse. Permanence can be found in open digital formats, however, or a physical medium and a playback device that will not become obsolete or unusable any time soon.

In a way, Michael Robertson's latest blog post touches upon the idea of permanence, or at least the notion that consumers should be able to have access to the files they store in a cloud locker. Amazon's Cloud Drive, he writes, is a "sink hole" because he believes it's too difficult to get your music out of the online locker once it's been uploaded. "[I]f you want to load your music to your new computer or to a laptop for traveling or maybe to your new iPod or iPhone, you're out of luck."
(, Michael Robertson's blog)