Twitter: a Platform for Promotion, or a Cesspool of Spam?

I've never been hip to the latest social networks. Lurking within this astonishingly charming and modest exterior is a true introvert, so I'm as far outside the social networking target demographic as you can be.  But one thing I do like is Expensify, and I want everybody to know it.

So when my buddy and trusted advisor Travis Kalanick suggested I start tweeting away my Expensiphilia (behold the birth of a new Googlenique word!) I was initially pretty skeptical: nobody follows me, because I never post there.  And I've no interest in posting there because I don't follow anybody else.  The network effect cuts both ways, and it's kept me out of one social network after the next.

But Travis is not to be underestimated, as he had a brilliant idea: find people complaining about expense reports on search.twitter.com, and then tell them about Expensify with an @reply. It's so obvious, that couldn't actually work... or could it?

It does.  In fact, it works incredibly well.  My data is early, but I find over 90% of users given a link in an @reply will click on it.  After that it's up to the website to convert those links to users, but the @reply technique works incredibly well.

Which makes me wonder: *why* does it work that well?  I mean, I know Expensify is awesome.  And I know *I'm* awesome.  But if I could convince everybody of that in 140 characters or less with >90% success rate... well let's say I'd have done a lot more dating.

On top of this, it makes me think "OMG, this is going to be so horribly abused."  I'll admit, I'm new to the Twitter scene.  But if this keeps being as effective as it seems to be, this is going to catch on like wildfire -- opening a floodgate of spam.

So with this in mind, let me toss out some groundrules on not only how to be effective with this technique, but how to be a good citizen:

1) Keep it personal.  Only send messages from real people, to real people.  Leave the faceless boxes on Google and maintain the social foundation of Twitter.

2) Keep it timely.  A huge benefit of Twitter is you can go straight the people who are experiencing the problem at that exact moment.  Leave the huge backlog of past posters alone and stay focused on the present.

3) Keep it relevant.  The temptation is overwhelming to just blast this out to everybody.  But resist that temptation and focus on the people who are actually calling out for your thing.

Basically, if you wouldn't say it when standing next to them in line, don't say it online.

So those are my thoughts on the matter.  Granted, I'm a total newb here, so I could be way off.  But I'm also trying to learn the ropes, so help me out.  What do you think?


PS: Expensify is in closed beta now. Sign up for the mailing list to apply for your spot!

Update:: I *knew* it was too good to be true. Turns out there's a very good reason 100% of links posted to Twitter get clicked immediately: there are a host of bots that pounce on the link immediately! Ok, going to filter those guys out and see if that brings the data back into the sphere of reality.

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