What’s The Value of Twitter Domains vs Web Domains?

Gnomedex 9 - Drew OlanoffI had an interesting talk with my friend Drew Olanoff last Tuesday and he told me about his new idea for raising money to help fight cancer. In case you don’t know Drew, he’s the mastermind behind the ever-popular and perhaps one of the most charitable events in the tech industry and it’s all going to blame his cancer: BlameDrewsCancer.com. Check out the site and you’ll see that you’re able to literally blame whatever problem you have on his cancer. You can do it on Twitter or any other social network – it doesn’t matter. Basically you’re allowed to blame his cancer until it ultimately goes away and perhaps even help others be cured of this disease by simply donating to the LiveStrong foundation.

So that leads me to this blog post…what is the value of a Twitter domain versus that of a regular web domain? Recently, Drew announced that he was going to “sell” his coveted Twitter handle: @drew to the highest bidder by November 9, 2009. While not allowed by Twitter under the terms of their terms of use, Drew was able to circumvent this by giving the money raised to the LiveStrong foundation – which led Twitter to say that technically the username wasn’t being sold and everything was “fair game”.  With that out of the way, Drew is now free to auction off his Twitter handle to the highest bidder by November 9, with bids starting at $10,000. Well-known comedian and the host of the Price is Right, Drew Carey has already submitted his name into the running by offering $10,000 and then potentially 10 times more if he amasses 100,000 followers by November 9.

Therefore the question then becomes how much would you be willing to pay for a Twitter handle is this becomes a growing trend and Twitter changes their terms of use policy? Have Twitter domains (e.g. twitter.com/username) become a hot commodity in the online world that people will pay a yearly premium to secure their own Twitter handle, similar to a domain? Will registries like ICDSoft, Network Solutions and/or GoDaddy perhaps offer Twitter registration that will supplement or perhaps complement their hosting offerings? Obviously this will be a point of contention for a bit of time because people who actively use Twitter will not want to have people squatting on Twitter handles, but if there is some way to overcome this, then perhaps this may be a good business model.

Just picture it, while your hottest commodity today is your website address (e.g www.domain.com), in the age of social media, it’s really important to have a positive, memorable and targeted Twitter handle – especially if you want people to communicate with you. If you’re a brand, you’re not going to want to try and make a Twitter handle appear “cool” according to your perception. You’re going to want it to be your brand name so that if people tweet, they can instantly recall your handle – this is the same methodology for website domains. You don’t want it to be your slogan when your brand name would suffice and do perhaps a better job.

Moving forward, the value of the Twitter domain, in my opinion, looks to be equal or perhaps exceeds that of your web domain. There just seems to be a bit more power behind having Twitter – because you’re going to be able to relay a whole bunch of information and have instant access to the company, its customers and have much more pleasant conversations.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently Flipboard's Assistant Managing Editor, overseeing news curation in technology, science, gaming and health. In addition to his day job, Ken's the co-host of "The Created Economy" podcast, examining the Creator Economy. In a past life, he was a former reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding.