Alex Poole

Pragmatic PHP, MySQL, Marketing & Technology

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Want people to Tweet for you virally? Don’t ask for their password.

March 29th, 2009 by alex

More and more companies are catching on to the massive exposure that its possible to get through Twitter.

Some are using “bribes” to get people talking about their products and services.

Usually they use software like Viral Tweets to accomplish this.

Fine enough, but I don’t want to be handing over my Twitter password to all and sundry. Sorry, but I just don’t, regardless of any privacy guarantees that might be given. Asking for Twitter passwords is pretty much as bad as asking for email passwords

And its not necessary.

Back in February I released a little report called 5 Cool PHP Tricks You Can Use To Boost Your Sales Page Right Now, but I only mentioned it on Twitter - I was curious to see what traffic that got. Not very much was the answer, though a few people who picked it up did thank me for it. 

One thing that no-one really got though was “trick” number 4 - “Ask for a Tweet & Incentivize”

That little bit of code basically goes and “reads” someone’s twitter profile to check whether a certain URL is mentioned in it or not.

With this you can:

  • Ask someone to tweet your URL, or even better provide a link for them like this: Please Tweet This  (view source and rip the code for that link to see how its done. Hint: type the message into your browser’s address bar and press Enter - it will do all the %20’s for you.)
  • When they come back to your site, check whether they have indeed tweeted your URL
  • If they have, provide them with a link to a free gift of some description
  • If they haven’t, ask them to try again

Its all you need. To go one step further, you could extend the code quickly to check someone’s follower count - to prevent people using a “throwaway” account, for example.

The only person I know who’s getting this right at the moment is @mikefilsaime. Apparently BFM2.0 will do this too. Which is nice.

So, if you want to ask people to tweet your URL but don’t want to ask them for their password, download 5 Cool PHP Tricks You Can Use To Boost Your Sales Page Right Now now. Its free (and squeeze-free) of course.

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1 response so far ↓

  • There are some nice tweet buttons that seem to work quite well.

    I am not sure what will be included with BFM2.0, there were hints that there will be some level of integration with Viral Inviter, which is among my disliked tell-a-friend services that ask for passwords to scrape.
    Really risky running that kind of script on a server.

    Take a look at Dopplr, they have what I believe is one of the first implementations of tell-a-friend that uses APIs for Google, Yahoo, and MSN - and iirc twitter as well.

    I now have one friend working on something along those lines, though it was early stages last I heard.