A few weeks ago I released a mini eBook about link building for SEO titled “Becoming a Clockwork Pirate.” Although I put my heart, soul and everything I know about link building into the 30,000 word digital mini-book, that’s not what made the book most interesting.
What made it unusual was the approach I took in ‘monetising’ it.
One option would have been charging for it, but as many of us know there’s no easy way to charge for online content.
The next option would have been to ask for people’s email addresses but after signing up for one too many email lists over the years I’m always reticent to give over my details, and I imagine most of the prospective readers of the book would be similarly jaded.
Pay with a Tweet
It was while I was wrestling with what the best option might be that I came across the “Pay With A Tweet” tool created by Innovative Thunder.
It seemed the perfect solution: not only did I get something in return for sharing the book (the promotion of the book to the downloaders’ Twitter followers) but I also reckoned the readers would be more comfortable giving away a retweet than any other the other options I had been exploring.
The system is fairly easy to set up, uses oAuth to ensure that someone has to retweet on Twitter or share on Facebook before getting they are able to access your goodies. The system from the New York based creative team is merely a proof of concept rather than an enterprise solution but it did a pretty good job of managing access to only those who have spent little social capital.
Actually, since releasing the book a new service known as Cloud:Flood has been launched. Cloud:Flood works in very much the same way but is a little bit more flexible than the “Pay With a Tweet” System. If you have a development team it wouldn’t take much to work up a solution that worked well with your analytics solution.
At the time of writing this post the book has been retweeted 1,159 times which, assuming even a small proportion of those people’s followers saw the retweets, is quite a good return for a digital product in a saturated market aimed at a few thousand search geeks.
In total, there have been 1,600 downloads of the book as a few people managed to find the file without retweeting (which wasn’t difficult if you have even the most basic SEO knowledge) and a number of people have downloaded the book a few times.
I’m confident the approach would work equally well in other sectors, and there are examples of pubs using it to give away free drinks and bands giving away download singles. I’ve also spoken to a film producer about using a similar approach to release an independent film.
If your aim is reach and brand exposure rather than building an on-going CRM style relationship, I can recommend exchanging social capital rather than email capture. This won’t work for every campaign but I can certainly envision a large number of situations and campaigns where this would work perfectly.
What were the downsides?
Some people didn’t have Facebook or Twitter campaigns. There weren’t many, but then my book was aimed at the digital haves rather than have-nots.
Also for a short period of time, retweeting the book completely took over my peers’ Twitter streams causing a mini-backlash which I could imagine being much more severe were the offer more mainstream and popular.
I also had a classic first mover advantage; people were talking as much about the payment mechanism as they were the book, and that kind of novelty is short lived.
If every marketer started using this type of system its popularity could very quickly burn out. But just because this tactic has a short shelf life doesn’t mean it hasn’t got value while the approach is still relatively fresh.
You can pay for Kelvin's book 'Becoming a Clockwork Pirate' with a tweet here.