Thursday, March 12, 2009

Of Advertising and Return

A little while ago, I caught a tweet from @davewiner pointing out that super web-guy and blog-champ @jasoncalacanis was offering Twitter $10000/month to be on the "Suggested Users" list. I retweeted it and offered Mr. Calacanis $5000/month to relentlessly promote him and his work. I wasn't entirely serious, and I'm convinced that my response was out of line. But that is neither here nor there.

Calacanis responded to @davewiner, clarifying that the offer was payable in advance for two years' standing on the "Suggested Users" list. Do the math. That's $250000 for a presence on a list for a service that hasn't completely figured itself out (this is largely due to the fact that Twitter morphs on an hourly basis!). Calacanis is entirely justified in wanting a spot - Twitter continues to explode, and as more and more people come to it, they'll likely check the Suggested list for who to follow.

But I'm not so sure that dumping a quarter of a million dollars on the "Suggested Users" list is the best way to promote his stuff. If Mr. Calacanis was serious about attracting not only regular web-users but also the people new to the social web, he could find better ways to spend the money. Why not "blow" the money on anti-malarial bednets; 25000 bednets is a lot of safe families in the developing world. Such a gift would generate immediate mainstream media attention, and the story would certainly get around on Twitter. $250000 would also start a lot of businesses in the developing world (shameless plug there).

I'm not questioning his methods, and I'm certainly not complaining about his advertising budget. But if he wanted to make a big splash, both in terms of regular and web-media, there are many "Suggested Awesome Things" that he could do instead.