A couple of days ago, I saw that Twitter is going to begin charging businesses for their Twitter accounts. The industry question around Twitter (and all social networking sites for that matter) has been; how are they going to monetize? Twitter is officially exploding this year and recently raised $35 million in capital.

The real question is; who will follow these businesses? When Walmart put a storefront up on MySpace, it failed miserably. Even Karmaloop, an arguably much more hip business has a failed MySpace page. The point is that social networks are for people. Businesses are not social. Their employees/customers can be, but the business can’t.

This fact is lost on many businesses with some of them doing worse and creating an online persona that is not real. In consulting with several businesses I have recommended they find a fan/fans of their business. They can be internal or external, as long as they are genuine and don’t restrict the subject matter to the business. This is the only way a business can participate on a social network; especially Twitter. (If you haven’t read Naked Conversations, you should.)

Not sure if Twitter will charge a person who is a fan and acting (partially) on behalf of a business. We will see. Of course, if Twitter adopts a subscription model, this won’t be an issue. Again. We will see.

Chris Brogan has some great guidelines for how a business should utilize Twitter and you can track what others are saying about your business on Twitter using Twitter Search.

Businesses on Twitter