@CilemaSnob, one of the regular Bollywood rabble-rousers on Twitter tweeted last night, in response to a fan telling him that he thoroughly enjoys reading his tweets for the day: ‘Gonna charge now. Subscribe at Rs 30/month’.
There are other people who could very well charge for allowing access to their tweets – Ramesh Srivats comes to my mind, for his inimitable pun and wit.
The other issue Ramesh usually has to contend with – people lift his tweet as-is and tweet it as their own, for some inexplicable reason. In the real world, that’s not so much a problem – you hear someone say something smart and you pass it on to your circle as your own. It happens all the time and unless you have someone in your circle who is also part of Ramesh’s circle, your little devious act is largely safe. This is a function of physical limitations of meeting and friends circle.
Online, this goes right out of the window. These days when people see some non-entity tweeting a smart pun… they immediately search parts of the tweet and land up on the Srivats-original! And then name and shame the perpetrator… to no effect anyway.
What Pheed seems to have done is to take a close hard look at Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and to some extent, Facebook, and created a new network that has everything but the kitchen sink. It is an interesting effort, no doubt, but with features and functions that may have been lower down priority for say, Twitter. Twitter may have eschewed these features as too niche (limited numbers not worth prioritizing now in the larger drive towards exponential scale). But they do look interesting on Pheed and may actually have use for a different set of people. More on that, after the features.
Some of the interesting parts of on Pheed include,
1. Is Pheed thrice as good as Twitter? It allows 420 characters… that’s thrice as much as Twitter’s 140. Most people raised a storm for 140 being limiting, but it turned out to be Twitter’s biggest strengths and 140 is now part of vocabulary to mean brief and terse, and still make sense. In comparison, 420 seems too much!
2. Each post (pheed?) has native options for like, unlike, star (Keep this!) and sharing. Remember… Twitter did not have a native RT long after people started using the manual RT. Share options include Facebook, Twitter and Google+. If you are trying Pheed out and logged in via your Facebook or Twitter account, remember to disconnect Pheed from the account you logged in with – it automatically starts posting in Twitter/Facebook without asking you for permission.
3. The Create New Pheed option has a ‘Copyright this pheed’ option! It doesn’t do much, but it adds a simple, ‘© 2012 pheed.com/userID’ note next to your pheed. There is no mention of what this copyright option means to users. In the Pheed T&C, under ‘Copyright pledge‘, it says, “Pheed bares no liability on your channel operation, pheeds, uploads; and should you disregard the terms and conditions set forth you will be held liable by Pheed and any aggrieved third-parties. So please pheed lawfully.” Bares?
4. There are native options to post a pheed in the form of text, audio, video or an image – that covers almost every service out there and all these can be posted via the Pheed interface and all go into the Pheed timeline.
5. There is a 5th option, besides those formats – Broadcast! This lets you schedule an event or go live with it! Looks like Pheed guys have thought of everything.
6. The web interface of Pheed lets you see others pheeds in multiple ways – you can sort and see only text, or images, or videos and so on. This is slightly evolved from Twitter, but not something Twitter can’t do either.
7. There are trends, featured pheed users and suggested pheed users… exactly like Twitter. There are notifications and direct messages too… again, exactly like Twitter. Unlike Twitter, the Favorites panel is easily accessible – it is called ‘Keepers’ on Pheed. And then there are verified channels too.
8. Followers is called ‘Subscribers’ and Following becomes ‘Subscribing to’. Yawn.
9. The most interesting feature is the ability to put your pheeds behind a paywall and make yours a premium channel! All you need to do is to go the settings and choose between the 3 cards or Paypal and you’re done! You have 2 choices here – have a monthly subscription for your pheeds or opt for a pay-per-pheed method. The latter obviously makes sense for live broadcast more than anything else. What happens to the fee you collect? Here’s Pheed’s help page explaining it:
Premium channel holders can set a monthly (30 days) subscription fee to their Pheed channel and earn directly from users who want to access their content. Subscription fees vary between $1.99 to $34.99, the same fee options also apply when setting your pay-per-view live broadcast events. Earnings are distributed to you based on our Revenue Share Program and your balance/earnings report can be viewed anytime by clicking Balance in the drop-down account menu at the top right corner of any Pheed page.
Our revenue share program guarantees that you shall be paid, on a monthly basis, 50% of the gross earnings of any monthly subscription fees and/or pay-per view live broadcast events, excluding any sales tax, if at all.
All payment processing and clearance fees, bandwidth, storage and related services are paid for by Pheed, except for transaction fees that may be incurred in connection with the transfer of the payment to your account.
We offer multiple payment options, including PayPal, ACH (for USA), eCheck (India gets eCheck, btw), Wire Transfer and more. Once your account exceeded the Minimum Threshold (US$100), we will wire money to your account within 30 days and will notify you.
Pandodaily refers to rapper Jim Jones making $1,000 for a live pheed, but a quick glance at Jim’s pheeds shows that these videos are freely available to anyone. Was it pay-per-view only when it was being streamed live? No idea and there’s no other mention of Jim Jones making this money but for Pandodaily.
One of the site’s earliest members, rapper Jim Jones, was convinced to sign up for the service when, with a single tweet, he made over $1,000 in under one hour via $1.99 pay-per-view subscriptions. What was he offering his fans that was so enticing? The opportunity to watch him and his crew get get their hair cut, and all the associated antics at the barber shop.
10. There is still no all-important mobile apps for Pheed!! They are awaiting Apple’s approval on their iOS app, to start with, it seems. Without mobile apps, traction to pheed is highly questionable.
To me, the addition of copyright and the monetization feature is an enormous step forward. Celebrities in India could explore using Pheed as a supplementary option to Twitter and Facebook, where vacuous content is given away for free and special content is shared under a copyright for a fee (pay-per-view?). If fans are interested enough, they *may* pay. In a way, celebs can test their celebdom in a more tangible way than the number of followers by checking how much they actually get fans to pay. Remember the age-old debate on social media and films… that mere buzz is not enough… people need to head to the theaters and pay! Well, here’s one way to truly test how popular a celebrity is.
More than celebrities, even people who have gained following on current platforms like Twitter and Facebook could possibly look at Pheed as the next step in evolution. Are you a Twitter celeb known for something unique? Like Ramesh Srivats and his punny tweets. Or Keshav and his wonderful sketches. Or, even me and middling, so-called music reviews. Instead of posting them freely on Twitter, Twitpic or blog, we could look at selecting those creations that are eagerly awaited and putting them under Pheed’s paywall… just to test how much people value your content. Of course, it is WAY too early in India for all this, but wouldn’t that depend on how good, indispensable your content is? And more interestingly, Indians may not be your only target group – your content may appeal to people outside India too, and they may be more open to paying for content.
For example, news channels! Or owners of cricket rights, for instance. The fact that monetization is easy and that too across formats that include text, video, audio and image… definitely opens up the possibilities. In a way, you become a TV channel on your own with this many options… and to top it, you can charge for it too!
Finally, with regard to the copyright option, it may mean news channels and mainstream media may not pick tweets and Facebook status updates indiscriminately and use them since there is an explicit tag of copyright that they cannot ignore.