Posted February 16, 2012 9:08 am by with 1 comment

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I received an email this week about a new ebook on the rise of the app. I was interested, so I visited the website and found something I’d never seen before, a “Pay with a Tweet” option.

Click the option, and you get a pre-filled Tweet (which can be altered somewhat) that mentions the product along with a link so others can get in on the deal.

I didn’t Tweet, but I was intrigued enough to look into the company behind the idea and found out that Pay with a Tweet has been around for awhile. “Innovative Thunder” came up with the idea to help promote their own ebook, and now they offer the service free to anyone who wants to use it.

In addition to ebook authors, they suggest using it to promote music, movie trailers, and there’s a hotel in Germany that offers a free beer for a Tweet.

The concept isn’t new. Bloggers who post giveaways have been asking for Tweets in return for contest entries for as long as Twitter has been around. But asking for Tweets in return for reward is a twist I hadn’t seen and Pay with a Tweet’s automation makes it practical on a large scale.

Fast Company says that Mitt Romney used the Pay with a Tweet system to help spread the word about his published job plan for Kindle. Romney’s digital director told the magazine,

“It got us to No. 9 on the best-seller nonfiction list. And I’m not going to lie: A 120-page jobs plan does not normally become a top 10 Amazon Kindle read.”

It seems like a good idea, but what about the FTC ground rules for advertising disclosures? This is from the FTC’s endorsement guide.

Q: I’m starting a new Internet business.  I don’t have any money for advertising, so I need publicity.  Can I tell people that if they say good things about my business on Twitter and Facebook, I’ll give them a discount on items they buy through my website?

A; It’s not a good idea. Endorsements must reflect the honest opinions or experiences of the endorser, and your plan could cause people to write positive reviews even if they’ve never done business with you. However, it’s okay to invite people to post reviews of your business after they’ve actually used your products or services. If you’re offering them something of real value in return for these reviews, though, it’s wise to tell them in advance that they should disclose what they received from you. That way, other consumers can decide how much stock to put in those reviews.

In the Pay with a Tweet instance, the tweeter would be tweeting before seeing the product. The pre-written post I saw just said I was downloading the book, but the implication is that I’m giving it my thumbs up. (Which honestly, is why I didn’t follow through).

In a way, it’s a similar to the check-in posts that are generated through Foursquare or GetGlue. The very fact that I’m eating somewhere or watching some show implies that I’m in favor. It’s an endorsement, even if I don’t like it and never go back again.

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Tweet Me The Money!

Let’s take this one step further. Today, I also learned about Chirpify. This is a service that let’s you pay another person with Paypal by simply sending a tweet saying how much you want to pay.

They also suggest stores use it to instantly sell products. “Tweet to buy this shirt for $5.” “I want to buy that shirt for $5” and zowey, Chirpify bills him, pays me and takes a percentage for their services.

Kind of sounds all loosey goosey to me. If I’ve got a Paypal account, why not just use them to complete the transaction? And with all the worries about privacy, people are going to trust a payment system based on a 140 character tweet?

So where am I going with all of this? How about south for the winter?

It does make you think about the possibilities. New ways to use social media to promote and sell products. I think that both ideas have merit. Asking consumers to buy content with their Tweets is an excellent way of harnessing the masses. And having people pay with Twitter lessens the number of key strokes between the consumer and the sale.

And yet, there’s something about both of these systems that make me uncomfortable. What about you? Would you ask customers to buy a product with a Tweet?

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below and you don’t even have to Tweet about this post first if you don’t want to.