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How to Ask Your Readers to Pay with a Tweet (Without Pissing Them Off!)

Asking readers to ‘Pay with a Tweet’ seems simple, right?

You get a tweet about your product; they get the product for free.

Trouble is, it’s not that simple.

The free product isn’t “free” if you’re asking for something in return – even if it’s just a tweet.

And it’s not “just” a tweet. You’re asking your readers to promote and endorse your product to their followers – without letting them go through it.

You’re asking them to trust you without giving them any reason to.

When Megan whether asking readers to ‘Pay with a Tweet’ an ethical practice or not?

I just about jumped in my seat.

First, because somebody was finally asking that questions and second, because the answer isn’t a “yes” or a “no” but an “if”.


In a nutshell: Asking your readers to pay with a tweet is an ethical practice if you do it right…

If you earn your readers’ trust.

If you show them you care about their reputation.

The idea of just giving away your stuff for free, without asking for anything in exchange, probably makes you cringe.

You slaved for hours on your product. You wrote your shitty first draft, edited, rewrote, and then edited some more before spending hours on its packaging and design.

If you were being paid to do all that, you’d rake in some serious moolah!

Considering all that, asking for a tweet doesn’t seem like a big deal, does it?

Unfortunately, it is.

Not because you shouldn’t be asking for something in return but because you’re not letting your readers see all the hard work you’ve done.

You’re telling them that your product is awesome. So awesome, in fact, that they should share it with their followers on social media, publicly endorse it – without even looking at it.

You’re making the decision for them.

And let’s be honest here. Of course, you’re going to think your product is awesome. You spent hours of hard work on it. You’re naturally biased.

The reality is that no one in their right mind is going to risk their reputation over a product they haven’t seen.

Asking your readers to pay with a tweet without letting them look at the product will likely result in some seriously pissed off readers.

The good news is that there are a number of ways to ask readers to pay with a tweet without offending them.

Publish the Entire Thing – Then Provide a Downloadable

The ideal situation for readers would be to see the product before promoting it.

That’s not as impossible as it sounds. If you’re looking to establish your authority, take away your reader’s biggest issue with paying with a tweet and publish the entire thing.

Worried that people won’t tweet about your product? Don’t be.

Even though attention spans are shorter online, it’s the longer posts that get saved, bookmarked and shared the most.

It’s why list posts are so popular. Readers perceive more value in longer posts and save them post for future reading.

If you provide the entire post as a downloadable that they can get after they tweet about it, they’ll be happy to do so.

After all, they’ve skimmed through the entire thing. They know its solid gold.

If you’ve ever bookmarked a detailed post to read later, wouldn’t you be happy to have the option to download it so you could read it on your kindle or tablet later?

Publish a Portion of the Product

If the word count is too high or you simply don’t want to share the entire thing, consider publishing a portion of it.

Give your readers a sneak peek into your product by publishing at least 20% of the product.

If your readers like what they read, their interest will be piqued and they’ll be more like to tweet it in order to download the rest of it.

Make sure that the material made public helps your reader even if he decides not to pay with a tweet.

Establish Authority

Depending on your situation and outlook, it might not make any sense to publish any part of the product. In that case, establish your authority.

Allay the fears of your readers. Assure them that they won’t be taken for a ride if they pay with a tweet and download your product.

Danny’s Naked Marketing Manifesto does that beautifully and is the perfect case study for establishing authority when asking readers to pay with a tweet.

Include a testimonial from an industry expert: The first thing you see on The Naked Marketing Manifesto landing page is a testimonial by Brian Clark. In the content marketing world, it doesn’t get bigger than Brian Clark.

Even if you had never heard of Danny or Mirasee before, you would be tempted to download the manifesto. After all, if Brian’s endorsing it, then the product really must be something!

Invite/Include public testimonials: Nothing is as honest as public testimonials that were not solicited by the author.

Include a public review section where readers can leave their own review. Danny did that by installing Facebook’s comment plugin on his landing page. A quick look at the comments left by people, using the Facebook comment plugin, shows that people love the manifesto.

Since it’s completely transparent, you can leave a negative review, as well.

If something is this transparent, and people love it so much to connect their Facebook accounts to it, then it must be good, right?

Include media appearances: Go on any popular blog these days and you’ll see a ‘As Seen On’ feature on their home page. It includes a list of popular blogs and websites they’ve guest posted on.

A blogger who has guest posted on Copyblogger, Smashing Magazine and Forbes among other popular websites will instantly have more authority.

The Naked Marketing Manifesto does that beautifully by including an ‘As featured on’ section.

If you’ve guest posted on other popular blogs, you can do the same. If you haven’t, now is an excellent time to start.

Give Them Another Option

Sometimes, no matter what you do, a reader simply will not pay with a tweet. The reason could be anything. He may not have a Twitter or Facebook account or is simply not comfortable with promoting something he hasn’t seen.

Instead of boxing your readers into a corner and forcing them in a do or don’t situation, give them another option such as email opt-ins.

People unwilling to risk their reputation will be more comfortable giving their email addresses as it gives them the opportunity to check out the product on their own before promoting to their followers.

Not only does this option show that you respect your reader’s feelings but that you also care about their reputation.

Sure, giving them the option to use their email instead of tweeting it defeats the marketing principle of asking readers to take one action but think of the flip side:

You’re forming a relationship with your reader by getting them to trust you.

If you ask me, establishing a relationship with your readers is more important. And if giving them an option is the way to their heart, then you can bet your free product I’ll be giving them that option!

Include ‘Tweetables’ in Your Product

Your marketing doesn’t end with your reader paying with a tweet.

Add tweetable nuggets in your product with the help of Click to Tweet service to encourage readers to tweet your content even after they’ve paid their due.

When your reader comes across a sentence with a powerful message, and they see a “click to tweet” option next to it, they’ll be more inclined to tweet it and tell their followers what they’re reading.

I discovered Danny’s Naked Marketing Manifesto through such a tweet, and I know plenty of people who discovered it through me.

Every time I’d come across an idea or sentence that made an impact on me, there was a very helpful ‘Click to tweet’ option next to it. Naturally, I tweeted it.

Every time I did, it would get retweeted and clicked on.

How’s that for making your product go viral?

It’s All About Trust

The key to asking your readers to pay with a tweet is trust. Without it, you don’t have a prayer of your free product going viral.

Remember all that time you spent creating your product? Spend at least half that making your readers comfortable with promoting it.

Earn their trust. Show them that you care about their reputation.

Once you’ve done that, your readers will be more than happy to pay with a tweet.So the real question is: What will you do now to earn your readers’ trust?

Sharing this post would be a good first step to demonstrate your online ethics and encourage others to focus on trust first.

About Samar Owais

Samar Owais is a freelance blogger who loves to talk shop over at her blog, The Writing Base. She also helps new freelance writers break free from low-paying writing gigs and earn more.

22 thoughts on “How to Ask Your Readers to Pay with a Tweet (Without Pissing Them Off!)

  1. But why are we making such a big deal out of this? Trust blah blah blah..
    If you are afraid of promoting something you havent tested, its as simple as that:
    Pay with a tweet, download the product, then erase the tweet.

    • Hey Robin,

      I know a lot of people do that but I kinda feel that it lessens your authority and creates additional hassle for the downloader.

      Your tweet will be up for at least a few minutes before you delete it. Depending on your follower list, any number of people will see it and will see you promoting something that you’ll only see after you’ve endorsed it.

      And deleting a tweet doesn’t delete them from desktop applications such as Tweetdeck and Hootsuite. Once it updates, the tweet stays there till the user closes the application.

      I know that because I once accidentally tweeted my customer account password when I meant to send it as a DM to my cell phone service provider. Plenty of helpful followers told me they could still see the tweet in their desktop application even after I’d deleted it. Talk about a bad situation! 🙂

  2. I would never pay with a tweet for something I haven’t seen. You’re asking me to endorse you to my friends. NO. Not going to happen. While some people will rely on endorsements of others, I’ve seen too many endorsements to trust that, either. Yes, I can erase that tweet, but that violates the contract I have with you to tweet for the product. Where are your ethics?

    • I hear you, Tom. To anyone building a brand online, they really can’t afford to gamble with their reputation that way.

      If Danny hadn’t put together the landing page for Naked Marketing that took away my objections of PWAT, I wouldn’t have downloaded from him either. Instead, I’d have emailed or DM’d him asking for a copy.

      Even after I paid with a tweet and downloaded the Naked Marketing Manifesto, I made sure I tweeted some of the sentences from the manifesto to show my followers that I had indeed endorsed a worthy product.

      And yes, I feel exactly the same way about deleting tweets. Ultimately it hurts my brand and credibility.

  3. I put out a grain-free cookbook for Thanksgiving this year, and I was offering a sample of it for “free” with a tweet. Usually people download my free stuff with no problems. I couldn’t figure out why in 3 days (or s0) only one person had downloaded it and tweeted. I guess now I know why. 🙂

    But since my main goal was to just get it out there, I took the PWAT off and just made it a download and put a tweet button under the link for people to tweet if they wanted to. A few people tweeted, tons of people downloaded.

    Putting tweetables inside the document is a fabulous idea. I also never thought of publishing a preview of the preview. I’ll definitely try those next time!


    • I’m glad you figured that PWAT was hurting your download Jason.

      And ultimately, downloads are what that matters. Even if you’re literally giving it away for free and aren’t even asking for an email in exchange, you’re still getting your name out there by including your details within the freebie.

      Do let us know how the Click to Tweet idea works out when you try it.

  4. Great post on a practice that seems to be catching on in the blogging world. I find myself more willing to pay a small monetary price for an item I haven’t seen, as opposed to tweeting it first. Money I can make more of; a reputation of recommending crap products is much more difficult to get away from.

    Thank you for your insight.


    • “Money I can make more of; a reputation of recommending crap products is much more difficult to get away from.” <- Exactly, Trent!

      Ask me for my email or my money but don't ask me to gamble my credibility and reputation. In my opinion, it hurts the credibility of the person asking people to pay with a tweet too.

  5. Really interesting. As a new author, I have been playing with ways of marketing my book. Not really big on twitter but I like the publish 20% point to encourage a tweet, and the give another option point. If only I could get some twitter followers now.

    • Jevon, since you’re still building a following, I’d say go for it!

      As for Twitter, here’s a tip:

      Follow 50 or so people in your niche who are active and successful on Twitter. For a month, simply observe them. See what kind of updates they’re tweeting, how they interact with people and how often they share links – and how they do that.

      Then start interacting with them. Send out your own updates and use hashtags to reach a wider audience. Since you’re a writer #amwriting is a very popular hashtag. Follow the hashtag and talk to people using it.

      Tweet links of other users. RT their tweets, answer questions, help them out if you can.

      Connect your twitter account to every social media profile you have. If you’re on any forums connect your twitter account to them too. Same goes for your blog, email signature, etc.

      Above all, stay active on Twitter and talk to people.

      That’s how you start. Followers come with interaction.

      Hope this helps!

  6. I am among those who don’t promote sight unseen, but there’s another factor nobody has mentioned. I absolutely do not EVER connect with another website or service via Twitter or Facebook. Sorry. I don’t trust this stuff. Yes, I’m cutting myself off from lots of fun and potentially profitable things by not doing Facebook apps, or using Twitter as you describe, but I don’t get hacked as so many friends have.

    There is no freebie I want badly enough to pay for it via a link to Twitter or Facebook. Not even if I’ve seen it and love it. I’ll tweet and post, for sure, but not via a link from your site.

  7. Sharon, you raise a very good point.

    While I haven’t seen it happening yet through PWAT, the security risk is very real.

    It’s always good to err on the side of caution. For myself, I don’t mind PWAT from a website or blogger I know, trust and can get hold of should things go south.

    Thanks for your comment Sharon! You’ve given me something to think about 🙂

  8. It IS about building trust. I know most people wont think twice about paying with a tweet if it is something they really really want. They will think they got a bargain. That’s what you should make all your clients, customers, readers etc feel. Like even investing their time is a bargain for what you are providing.

    But the trust building techniques you bring up, like publishing a portion of it are just brilliant! Thank you Samar!

    • Thanks Coach!

      With the correct product, paying with a tweet is a bargain. You’re not asking for personal info, the entire process takes less than 30 seconds and you get an awesome product that has some top level content.

      Build the trust, show your readers that you care about them and they’ll happily pay with a tweet.

  9. Samar: Not is isn’t a bargain. I’d rather have to buy it. There is nothing more personal, nothing, from a businessman’s point of view, that needs to be as private and protected as the list I tweet to, my customer list.

    You’re dead wrong about this, from my point of view. You’re placing little or no value on your list.

    • You definitely need to put a lot of value on your list, but did you actually read the entire post and absorb what Samar is saying?

      She says you have to prove that you provide value FIRST. That you can’t ask someone to tweet about a product they don’t know to that valuable list. This post is all about getting around that issue.

      Read it again – I think there’s more value here than you originally saw. 🙂

    • Tom, perhaps bargain is the wrong word. The selling point of PWAT is that it doesn’t require you to give any personal information like your name or email and that it takes just a few seconds to share.

      The downside is that it asks you to leverage your social standing without looking at the product – which is a deal breaker for a lot of us.

      Now if you came across a product that used the methods I mentioned in my post to remove the biggest issue people have with PWAT and you found out that the product was something that you was very relevant to your Twitter list, would you not want to share it?

      And sharing the right product through PWAT, you also gain a lot of credibility. Everyone respects a good content curator because they know the content they share will always be solid.

      So yes, protecting your list and followers is of utmost importance. But with sharing the right product, you can enhance your standing with them.

  10. This is BRILLIANT!

    I’ve wondered about the “pay with a tweet” method. It seems like a great idea, but I knew I had to get around the issue of my visitors not being able to see the product first. Since I don’t have much of a reputation online yet, I knew I had to be smart about it, but no ideas ever sprang to mind.

    This post has given me some great ideas. I’ve been working on a podcast recently that I’d like to launch soon, and after reading this post I realized that I could create a set of “podcasts” that can only be accessed by paying with a tweet – but since I have a free podcast that people can listen to before they tweet, I can prove that I provide value in every episode.

    A couple other ideas came up as well, but that was the first one.

    Thank you for your input on this, Danny. This is still a method that has to be used with care, but you’ve opened a lot of doors here. 🙂

      • Lindsay, I’m so glad this post gave you a starting point and some great ideas.

        While I had written products in mind, you just gave me a brilliant idea about podcasts and really any other kind of media that I’d want people to share. So thank you too! 🙂

        Good luck with the podcast! Do let me know when you release them. I’d love to take a listen and spread the awesomeness.

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