$$ tag for Twitter ads? I want to pay for Twitter!

I love Twitter and can't remember life before it. It's a whole new channel of communication, with its own dynamics and conventions. I like how it fits nicely between instant messaging and blogging, and I hope one day it will be as pervasive as the phone.

I have talked in the past about how I use Twitter both for personal life and for advertising Balsamiq Studios, my small business.

I basically have an RSS feed of a Twitter search result page for some keywords related to my product (here it is), and when someone tweets something relevant, and I feel that my tool might help them, I tweet back with a link.

I have had an incredible success rate with this direct way to advertise my Mockups tool, but the approach has elicited both good and bad responses.

The problem is that my "direct advertising tweets" don't look any different from my other tweets.

So, starting today, when I tweet back for business I will start my direct advertising tweets with $$, to clearly denote that the tweet is an ad. For example:

@foobar $$ here's my prototyping tool: http://is.gd/NmM

I'm putting the $$ after the @username to keep with the current conventions.

Not only, I am ready to pay Twitter a dollar for each of my tweets that starts with $$ - Evan, just store my credit card info and charge me once a month, that'll be fine.

Yes, I could easily "cheat the system" and save money by not putting the $$ signs at the beginning of my tweets, but if this convention takes off people who advertise without it will be treated as spammers. In other words, it's the honor system coupled with karma points. In the interest of keeping a good reputation for my company, I'll pay each time.

Plus, the fact that each $$ tweet costs a dollar will refrain me from sending too many ads and focus on the ones that I feel will be more effective, which means that users will only get a tweet for me if I really think my tool will help them. I guess what I'm trying to say is that, as a consumer, I would love to be advertised to this way.

Sure big companies might start spending big money and ad-tweet lots of people, but I'm sure Twitter clients could be set up to ignore $$-tweets, or only the ones from certain people/companies.

What do you think? Will you start using $$ for your advertising Tweets too? Is there already a convention for this and I totally missed it? 🙂

[UPDATE #1: I love guruz's suggestion below of 1/2 of my dollar going to the $$-tweet recipient. Brilliant!]

[UPDATE #2: someone suggested setting up a separate account for $$-tweets, so that people who follow all @ replies don't get spammed with them. I think it's a great idea, so I am now going to use @balsamiqads for $$-tweets].

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Comments (11)

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  5. Advertisements will show up on twitter one way or another. In my opinion, it’s better to know what’s an ad and what’s not. A lot of people tweet under the guise of not marketing, when they are and are just not being strait about it. Great read!

    -Andy

  6. I agree. I’ve used it for offering services in the past, and found it very effective. I’d happily follow some such policy and would pay a dollar per tweet. Would be happy that was split 50/50 between the reader and twitter corp.

    Tim.

    Tim Haines
  7. Of course the problem is “real spammers” would never use the $$ tag, and legit people like you would only find people filtering out your tweets.

  8. danw is way too up tight. “injecting yourself into conversations” is what Twitter’s all about. It would be completely different if you were spamming random people, but you are not. When I Tweeted asking questions about prototyping tools, you responded with a link to Balsamiq Mockups. I never viewed this as an advertisement: you were clearly answering my question, and in fact I find the tool quite useful.

    I would not prefix with $$. I think that looks tacky and something like that tag should be saved for the real spammers. You should continue telling people about Mockups, just only do so when they are already asking questions or looking for similar tools.

  9. What would be even more nice if 50% of that Advertising-Dollar went to the receiver. So basically, 50 cent compensate me for receiving an ad(vertisement.. or advice?)

    [Peldi: I like this idea a lot! :)]

  10. I think thats a pretty cool idea, I would love to see Twitter implement a $$ filter so you could ignore them if you received them, if you wanted too. Not sure about the payments side of it, I don’t know about Twitters current business model, and if this would fit in well.

    Don’t think Twitter could enforce people to use $$, nor stop advertising full stop, but for respectful people like yourself it would be nice. 🙂

    Ashley Williams
  11. Eric, thanks for the comments and the support. I want to make it clear that this idea is not a reaction to danw’s comment, it’s just an idea to try to make the gray area of ‘direct tweets about a product/service I sell’ a bit more clear for everyone involved…and something which might offer a glimpse of the elusive Twitter business model, which was something that tickled me enough to post this… 🙂

    Re: $$ being tacky, you are right. Maybe @$ looks better, like a twisted face wearing a little bow-tie? 😉 It would literaly mean “direct message (the @ part) about money (the $ part)”.

    Peldi