Just because Twitter doesn't know how to make money doesn't mean that companies aren't learning how to make money off Twitter.
Dell said Thursday it has made $3 million in sales that have come from the microblogging service in one way or another since starting its Twitter outreach.
Since the Dell Outlet began tweeting out deals, the company's Twitter stream is directly responsible for $2 million in sales, according to a blog posted on the Dell community. An additional $1 million in sales has come from customers who use the @DellOutlet handle as an entry point into Dell's Web site before ultimately purchasing from the company.
The computer manufacturer has been using the microblogging service to publicize deals at @DellOutlet since June 2007. The difference between Dell's strategy and many other Twitter users is that the company says it is making money with the service.
Dell has exhibited a savvy approach to gaining followers and driving sales to its Web sites through Twitter. According to Stephanie Nelson, who runs the @DellOutlet twitter feed, one of the keys to growth has been offering exclusive deals through Twitter. By providing coupons or links to special deals, @DellOutlet was able to grow quickly.
Currently, the @DellOutlet has more than 600,000 followers, putting it in the top-50 most-followed Twitter profiles, according to TwitterCounter.
Part of what makes the microblogging service so attractive to users -- and one of the reasons Dell has been successful using it -- is because it provides news in real-time.
"Deal-hunters are especially attracted to Dell's Twitter presence. Dell Outlet sells refurbished Dell products at great prices, but inventories fluctuate, making it difficult to know when products are available or on sale. Dell Outlet uses Twitter as a way to message out coupons, clearance events and new arrival information to those looking for Dell technology at a discounted price," Nelson wrote.
Currently, Twitter is not charging companies for using its service to promote and make sales. However, the San Francisco-based company has already embarked on a very public search to make money. While the microblogging service still hasn't quite figured out how to monetize itself, Twitter is moving in that direction.
One way the microblog may be able to make money is by charging companies like Dell who use the service to facilitate commerce.
"For now, monetization of this type of activity remains unknown," Twitter spokeswoman Jenna Sampson said in a statement, according to Reuters. "However, as the network grows, the company will be committing more resources toward profitability."