Social Media Is Its Own Currency. Or Is It? (Infographic)

The Currency of Social Media

Even those head deep in social media have heard the saying:Social Media - Free Lunch

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

What you may not have known is that this saying is a result of a practice bars had in the 30’s and 40’s.  Men could feed themselves for “free” for the price of one drink.  Of course, the food was extremely salty ensuring the bartenders that the hungry men would have multiple drinks. Gottcha!

Over a decade, people have been buying free lunches online in the form of eBooks, videos, reports, etc. in return for their email address.  It seemed like a fair exchange.  It was the currency of choice.

In the last couple of years, there has been a shift.  Instead of asking for an email address or for dollars to purchase an ebook, some online marketers are asking to pay for products in turn for payment in social media – a tweet or a post on Facebook – which is then exposed to respective Twitter followers and Facebook friends.

I came across such a service from Innovator Thunder which used this technique to promote its book.

What’s the catch?  As far as I can tell there isn’t any catch. Creating the ‘pay with a tweet’ button is free. You can find out more about it in the video at the end of this post.

But this ‘pay with a tweet’ thing got me to thinking and here’s what I discovered.

There are definite pros and cons to this ‘pay with a tweet’ practice.  There are some who question the ethics of using social media as a currency. Many are very uncomfortable passing such tweets and posts along to their followers and friends, particularly if they haven’t had a chance to review the materials.  It feels like a ‘forced share’ and borderline spamming.

Another group consider their email address as a more expensive currency than a tweet. They don’t have a problem with the ‘pay with a tweet’ pricing at all.

But the most interesting thing I discovered was a case study by Unbounce – a landing page service.  It did a split A/B study to determine which payment method (email versus tweet) produced results.

Bottom line?

  • Requesting an email address has more lasting value than a tweet as it generates a list of prospects for future email marketing efforts.
  • Yet, a ‘pay with a tweet’ campaign has a viral quality about it in that every download continues to generate some social media buzz.
  • Unbounce suggested some products or online promotions may benefit from a combo approach that allows you to build exposure (pay with a tweet) while building your email subscriber list.

Here are the study results in the form of an infographic

Social Media - Email versus Tweet

You can find out more about this Unbounce study here.

If you’re interested in conducting your own study, or you want to create your own ‘pay with a tweet’ button, you can find out more about the  service by checking out the video below and visiting the website of Innovative Thunder. It will direct you to the page where you can create your own ‘pay with a tweet’ button.

But before you go, share your thoughts and opinions about the pros and cons of using your social media networks as currency in the comments section.  Which would you prefer?  Would you offer a ‘pay with a tweet’ to your audience?

 

 

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Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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