As a general Twitter user, I'm not sure I find all that much value in Twitter's list of suggested users. I don't have much investment in following JetBlue, NPR, I Can Has Cheezburger, or the New York Times. (I do follow CNN and my local news station.) The selection of celebrities and businesses is so eclectic that it seems completely random. There is no targeting. I don't have a Whole Foods in my area and I can't stand Ashton Kutcher. I don't watch The Ellen Show.
by Joshua Davis
But I may be in the minority. I'm sure there are plenty of Twitter users who go through and check off a few dozen of these tweet streams to follow. How many followers have these suggested users gained by the simple virtue of being on this list? Can they assign a monetary value to this benefit?
Jason Calacanis can. He offered $10,000 a month to be featured on the list, and he thinks that Twitter should sell half of these spots in a similar manner to non-spammers. Dave Winer says that he would be interested in that, too, if only for a few months. Could being featured on this list of suggested users extend your reach farther than if you'd spent the same amount of money on other forms of advertising?
The L.A. Times reports that some of these featured accounts received tens of thousands of new followers in approximately one month. That sounds pretty impressive, but there is speculation about how many of these followers are real people or just an army of spambots. Is this comparable to the percentage of window shoppers and tire kickers that other marketing efforts bring in?
As someone who lacks the sort of funding Jason's plan would require to get featured as a suggested user, I'm more concerned with what this would mean to users like me. Would selling these spots to those with the deepest pockets dilute the value of this list? I'm sure some people would claim that it would, but as I've already mentioned, I find the list of questionable value already.
I think Twitter could add more value to this list – both to potential advertisers and general users – by providing a filtering option. Show the full list by default, but allow users to filter by news, entertainment, business, etc. Even those at the middle or bottom of the list could get decent billing under the relevant filter.
What do you think? Would you consider paying for inclusion on Twitter's list of suggested users? Would it affect your perception of anyone who paid for the privilege?