There's money in them thar microblogs – but only in the UK

picture-111Mobile content provider AQA 63336 (whose name makes me think of that new emergency services number) has launched AQA2U, a commercial micro-publishing platform which lets UK users micro-blog for money.

It works like this: you sign up as a publisher via the AQA website. Once approved, you set up topics ending in 2U which your ‘fans and followers’ subscribe to by texting that topic to 63336, at the cost of 98p.

Thereafter, any time you feel like you have something of value to share, you publish it from your phone or online, and your subscribers receive it as a text — at cost to them of 25p per aphorism, observation or other nugget of information. The maximum a user will be charged is £3.50 per month.

AQA2U gets 12p of every 25p paid by subscribers and publishers get between 7p and 9p, depending on how many updates they publish each month. If you’re a charity, you get 12p. AQA 63336 says a topic with as few as 25 subscribers can make over £275 per year, with the earnings potential ramping up to almost £3,000 with 250 subscribers.

All publishers can choose to donate their earnings to one of the charities which have signed up for the launch; the Samaritans, WellChild and Straight Talking.

This strikes me as a model Twitter should have, could have, and possibly may yet adopt when they roll out paid business services. The problem is — and call me cynical — I don’t think that consumers are going to sign up for a paid service if they can get the same information for free elsewhere.

So the publishers who are already using Twitter are going to have to decide whether they stick with a service with traction and hope there are monetisation plans in the wings, or try to herd their followers en masse to a newer, relatively less well-known service with limited geographic reach.

Having said that, Colly Myers, CEO of AQA says they already know people will pay, based on the “thousands of repetitive texts to AQA 63336 asking the same questions every month”.