The biggest microblogging platform in China is now charging for its premium features, in a move that is intended to see the firm return to profit.
Sina Weibo, a similar platform to Twitter, made a loss of £9 million in the first quarter of this year.
However, it commands a large membership of more than 300 million Chinese ‘netizens’. Though recent restrictions imposed by the state have effected posts, it is still seen as an important outlet for opinions.
The membership will give access to 15 so called VIP features. Voice posts, increased security and personalised pages are some features to be wrapped up in the bundle, which will cost £1 a month.
To monetise their platform though, is seen by many as being a brave decision. Mark Mulligan, an independent media analyst said of the news:
“In order to start charging for something that people expect to be free, a company has to be very confident of its market position.”
Mulligan went on to say that it is unlikely Twitter will make such a move, with competition from Facebook and other sites making the move practically impossible.
“If Twitter tried to [charge], Facebook would capitalise on that and try to implement a much richer set of services entirely free.”
At a corporate level, it is possible that both companies could start to charge for more of their services.
If this is the case, it will call for even greater emphasis on SEO.
However, a statement from Twitter said their business model remained focussed on advertising.