Friday, April 4, 2008

The Opportunity Cost of Not Participating in Web Events

Problogger Tips

Just after midnight last night (as it ticked over here to 1 April) I posted that I was launching a new ProBlogger service - PayPerTweet - a service that pays Twitter users to Tweet about products, services and websites.

Of the 100+ commenters to respond to the post so far the majority noticed the date and time - although what unfolded exceeded my expectations for an April Fools prank. In this post I want to tell the back story of the idea (the idea actually is bedded in reality to some extent) and share some of the 'results'.

The Back StoryOn Saturday I received an email from someone asking me to Tweet about them in return for $20. I won't out them here but they wanted a little 'Tweet Love' to help them build their own twitter follower numbers and were willing to put up $20 to get it. I refused the offer and suggested to the person that there were better ways to build your Twitter following.

Last night at about 11pm my time I Tweeted about the experience of being paid to tweet. The responses from followers were varied from shock, to intrigue, to humor, to a few saying that they thought it was a good idea. These responses reminded me of the launch of PayPerPost. I immediately thought of 'PayPerTweet' and looked it up to see if anyone had registered the domain (purely curiosity). Funnily enough the domain was registered in 2007!
I tweeted my findings about the domain.

At this point I began to think about how I could make a spoof PayPerTweet like site and IM'd Chris Garrett with the idea. He quickly reminded me that it was April Fools day in just a few hours (actually it was 30 minutes away for me here in Australia). He suggested I write it up as a post on ProBlogger.

To this point I'd not been planning any April Fools Day posts (I've never really got into it) but began to write a post anyway - just for fun. I only half thought that I'd post it - I'm always nervous about playing jokes on readers (perhaps it goes back to an April Fools joke played on me in my childhood!)

I IM'd my draft post over to Chris - he laughed and said I should post it. On the spur of the moment I did just that and then Tweeted it for good measure.

The ResponseI was nervous about the post. I'd included a few 'hints' in the post about it's true intentions but still was nervous about how it would be taken. I was quite relieved to see the first comments and Twitter replies come in. Most people spotted the dates - although a few did not.

I stayed up for another hour watching the fun spread across Twitter as people Re-Tweeted the 'news'. The story spread and traffic began to arrive at the post.

The response to PayPerTweet was mixed and I'm not sure I've seen it all yet as it got tweeted and blogged about quite widely. Here's some of what I woke up to this morning:
100+ comments on the PPT post - most saw the joke, a few were completely taken in by it, a few were angry, a few thought it was a great idea.18 Serious Enquiries - surprisingly this morning I have 16 emails in my inbox and two direct messages in Twitter from people who wanted to know more information about PayPerTweet. The 'press release' post had a fake email address in it (the date of April 1) which would have bounced for anyone sending email to it - but 16 people emailed via my contact form. These ranged from potential advertisers wanting to know prices to Twitter users wanting to know how to sign up for the service.Blog Posts - I'm not sure how many people have written about the story on their blogs but there are definitely a few (track it on Technorati). My intention with this was not link bait - but it was the result, to some extent. It even made it to Techmeme. The posts have ranged from those writing about April Fools day through to a number who thought it was serious to a few who I'm still not sure if they got the joke. Twitter - Twitter lapped this one up. It was Tweeted and ReTweeted more than I know how to track (you can see some of it on ProBlogger's Quotably and this search result for PayPerTweet on Quotably). I helped it get kick started by direct messaging a few Twitter friends who gave it mentions. These drove a fair bit of traffic and also drove up my follower numbers (up about 160 so far since midnight). I guess this was good 'TweetBait'.Conversation - what I'm most happy about with this whole PPT thing is that it's actually generated some fascinating conversation and perhaps pointed to an issue that the team at Twitter is going to have to deal with in the coming months. The fact that someone is already offering Cash for Tweets shows that people are already attempting to manipulate the tool. The serious enquiries that I had as a result of posting also indicate that there is some kind of market for this type of thing. How long will it be before someone actually develops the business model for this? How will Twitter protect itself? Should it? Will Twitter be monetized and will see ProTweeters emerge? All of these questions and more have been thrown around over the last 12 hours - fascinating to watch.So it's midday here in Australia and that means the jokes are over and sadly (or happily for some) the PayPerTweet can be relegated to the deadpool (at least for me).

You rock. That's why Blockbuster's offering you one month of Blockbuster Total Access, No Cost.

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