If you are a frequent Twitter user, you must have seen tweets like: ‘I downloaded … for free using Pay with a tweet’ or ‘I paid with a tweet to get … for free’ or something similar. A phenomenon that is gaining popularity, in use, but one that is so wrong that I have no other word for it than to call it spam.
To explain why I see it as spam, there are a few things to clarify. First of all, the way Twitter works. You may or may not know, but there are certain rules that apply to Twitter to make it successful for yourself or your business. Those rules can be best defined by keywords as: authenticity, sincerity, integrity and personal. If you don’t follow these rules, your tweets will be seen as spam, or, to put it more mildly: you aren’t getting the most out of it. How to apply to those rules? That is not as hard as it seems. For instance: don’t use a logo as your profile picture (logos can’t talk) use an image of yourself. Let people know who’s talking to them. Secondly, tweet about things you do, what goes on in your mind, thinks you (don’t) like and what keeps you busy. That can be personal, but since we are all book professionals here, this can also be about your (passion for your) work. And lastly, do not use Twitter as an old-fashioned marketing tool. Because it isn’t. The old way of marketing is sending, the new way of marketing is about dialogues, personal conversations and one-on-one advice.
So, with that in mind. If you do all of the opposite: have a logo talking, only send links, promotional tweets and don’t participate in conversations, what you do is spam.
What is Pay with a tweet?
Pay with a tweet is a promotional tool for Twitter, which can be used to promote a file (a book) among the public. How it works is very simple. You create a button on your website, which you can easily do yourself. If someone visits your site and sees the button, they are teased to click it because it gives them something for free in return. But there is a catch. They will only get what you are offering by sending a (pre-defined) tweet. After the tweet is sent, they will be redirected to a download page or directly to the file itself (a PDF, an e-book or something else). If this works, it is used very frequently and your book title (if this is mentioned in the pre-defined tweet) will show up in the Twitter timeline often. Sounds good! I hear the marketing department say. Uhm, no.
What is so wrong with it?
To understand what is so wrong with this, you will have to combine the rules of Twitter with the functionality of Pay with a tweet. The rules of Twitter dictate that your tweet is authentic and personal. Pay with a tweet is neither. As a user you have to tweet something to your followers that isn’t personal because you haven’t written it yourself (although it sometimes is possible to alter the text of the tweet, but reality shows this is almost never done) and last, but the most important: this is not good for publishers. Because, what you want is that people talk about your new book. And people generally do that if they like it or hate it. But now they are forced to talk about it because you tease them with a free gift. And there is nothing sincere and authentic about that. This is not word-of-mouth. It also doesn’t tell you anything about what they think about it. Thereby, this is marketing the old way in a new jacket. Spamming promotional quotes around to get as many people to know about your new book as possible.
But why is it so popular?
I hear some of you think: ‘but why is it so popular than? I see those tweets almost every day.’ Or: ‘but what if people don’t mind tweeting that message?’ Well, the first implies that more and more publishers (or self published authors) are using Pay with a tweet to promote their work. And because many people want something for ‘free’, they will do what is necessary to get it. The second tells us that a lot of people don’t mind doing this. What I have experienced is, that at first I thought this was interesting, until I saw my timeline flood with the exactly the same tweets for a few days in a row. Which resulted in the fact that I don’t want to click on the links anymore (bye bye functionality). I now steer clear of all Pay with Tweets. I don’t want to spam my followers and I don’t like it that people want me to talk about their book before I know what I think of it. And you, as a potential user of this functionality, should question the same.
Okay, but what does work?
This is no criticism of Twitter. People who know me, or follow me on Twitter, know that I love it and that I am a firm believer in its powers. And by saying powers, I mean that you can make Twitter work for you in the way you want it. But that is not by forcing people to do something, but by enabling them to do it their selves. How to do that is very simple. If you want to promote your new book by sending a free PDF around (the complete work, a summary or some chapters), place it on your website, tweet about it yourself and, and this is the important part, make sure that people can spread the word themselves if they appreciate it, by adding social media buttons (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) in the PDF itself and on your website. You can ask them to spread the word if they like it, but that is where you have to draw the line. You will notice that when people talk about it, they do it because they initiated it themselves and that the general opinion on the book (or on the promotion itself) is far more positive than with Pay with a tweet. Because one of the other negative implications of Pay with a tweet is, that more and more people see this as spam and will talk (tweet) negative about it when they see it coming by again. And remember, just as with the amount of followers you have, it is not the quantity that matters, it is the quality.
Recent blog posts
- Ten challenges to innovation in publishing
- Publishers should embrace entrepreneurial authors
- Dreams of interoperability
- The Story behind The Story by Bobette Buster
- Pottermore's winning digital strategy
- Tools done changing?
- Publishing is Booming But it's Still Gloom on the High Street
- Authors and book rights – some more truths
- “TOC was a great ride…”
- Bright lights, big web
- I have a strong feeling that
2 weeks 3 days ago
- Paid-For Showrooming Is Madness
3 weeks 3 days ago
3 weeks 5 days ago
- You are asking the wrong
4 weeks 18 hours ago
4 weeks 1 day ago
- Frameworks and Lotteries
4 weeks 3 days ago
- Eisler's point has been misunderstood
4 weeks 3 days ago
- Publish and be damned?
4 weeks 3 days ago
- Great post, Chris! But you're
6 weeks 1 day ago
- Numbers Game
6 weeks 3 days ago