Twitter videos & group chats are here, does this mean the end of Free Twitter?

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Nothing lasts forever and the best things in life are free. It’s beyond cliche’ but that doesn’t make it any less true. Especially for Free Twitter. Our run with the Econet promotion that has helped a lot of us appreciate the joys of being a #Twimbo is 30 days from its expiry date.

Why should any of the Twitterati be bothered anyway? Econet extended this promotion twice already, and because of the marginal strain it has on the network people don’t expect anything but another extension. There is, after all, some sort of benefit for Econet in zero rating access to this social media platform.

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All of this could however changed if yesterday’s events in social media are anything to go by. While there was an ample amount of noise around the Facebook/instagram/Tinder outage Twitter was on the grind, occupying a spot in that one hour of Facebook absence as everyone’s default social platform and more importantly fulfilling its earlier promises to add value to its network by bringing in new features to the micro-blogging site.

In an announcement on its official blog Twitter introduced two new features, group Direct Messages and video tweets. The group Direct messages are an extension of the direct message function that allows you to chat with anyone who follows you. With this new tweak you can have up to 20 people in on this conversation and it is not limited to people who follow each other only.

It sounds like the concept was borrowed from the Facebook Rooms App that was rolled out last year as a way of congregating people with similar interests in chat rooms. The difference though was the anonymity aspect that Facebook wielded as a plus to free expression.

Being the brand focused social network, the Twitter value proposition has been on starting dialogue with brands and experts together with keen followers of topics that could have been started through invoking tweets.

It’s now all about enriching the social media conversation with video

Twitter upped its interest in video with the mobile video camera feature. This will allow subscribers to attach videos to tweets. With a length of up to 30 seconds on these videos this blasts past the option of attaching Vines, which was the 6 short video application that Twitter bought in 2012.

For all intents and purposes of social media video now looks like the area of focus. Besides the bloom of apps like Snapchat (which doesn’t seem to be taking off locally) we’ve had Facebook showing a more aggressive approach to video content management.

Every industry report and forecast on digital media and internet usage, with Sub-Saharan Africa included, is referencing the rise of video consumption and creation trends. So it’s hardly surprising that Twitter would be doubling down on this aspect.

If Free Twitter vanishes… WTF is our next option?

While we love video locally the question is whether or not our high priced data services will allow us to consume it. The mobile broadband tariffs haven’t been lowered so we have turned to  Over The Top (OTT) services like WhatsApp and Facebook bundles for a lower priced access to multimedia.

Some wily content creators have cashed in on this already and you can bet that a free Twitter that gives an option to promote content through 30 second videos can work tremendously in their favour.

What is not guaranteed though is whether or not this freebie will be available after everyone on Twitter starts pushing video content. Vine might have made it possible before, but only as an external application that a lot of people on the local front haven’t been too keen on anyway.

Econet couldn’t confirm any extension of the Free Twitter Promotion. We’ll just wait and see if that generosity will be extended for another 90 days in the face of these changes to Twitter.

At least the network has 30 days to see how subscribers latch on to video tweeting. In the event that it does become a burden it would be easy (and looking at telecoms revenue smart actually) to spin it into another bundle and craft it into a revenue boosting option.

Just think of an aggregation of services for WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook, the WTF combo that has been tried and tested by Airtel in Nigeria. It’s like the Opera Mini WhatsApp combo, but this time with bundles that people weaned from months of free Twitter would actually be keen on paying for.



3 Comments

  1. musa says:

    me and my dirty mind. when i read “WTF is our next option?” I was thinking WTF?? coarse language on Techzim? really?? but then, that’s just me.

    1. fourwallsinaroom says:

      I too was confused and then thought. Whatsapp Twitter Facebook bundle

  2. Nuendo says:

    Twiitter , Facebook , Instagram are all data mining tools for people to snitch on themselves so they will always be FREE!!!!!!!!!!! mashaya nyaya here………

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