Musings: Could you leverage Twitter to make some money this holiday season?

A few days ago, I was browsing my Feedly dashboard and ran across this AdWeek post describing how big retailers are gearing up to poach their competitors customers this holiday season. The article goes into some specifics, but the idea is basically that brands are planning to monitor Twitter for relevant conversations and then “at” message potential customers with special offers, product details, or even local store inventory information.

So imagine @MikeBruins65 from Boston tweeting “Wtf! @BestBuy offering 25% off all 4K TVs in-store…except nothing in stock.” and then @target replying “Cheer up @MikeBruins65! We have 4K TVs in-stock in Everett, MA! Grab coupons at”. Since these brands are certainly leveraging powerful tools like Radian6 or even the full Twitter Firehose, it seems like it would be straightforward for them to execute strategies like this around high value markets. But what about as an individual, could you employ a similar strategy to make a few bucks?

Amazon Associates Links

The most obvious, least risky, and least lucrative approach would be to monitor Twitter for tweets that sounded like they were from frustrated buyers and then message them Amazon associates links for the product they’re looking for. Looking at Amazon’s fee structure, you’d want to target high margin categories with moderately expensive products and then hopefully end up doing a decent amount of volume. So imagine searching for Tweets from users frustrated that they can’t checkout on a small eCommerce site, finding the product they’re searching for on Amazon, and then Tweeting them the link to buy with your Associates link.


More risky and potentially more upside. I’m not entirely sure how feasible this would be, but I think the idea would be to use a SaaS eCommerce platform like Shopify to setup an eCommerce shop and then dynamically list items which you’ll later dropship. The challenge would be two fold, using Twitter to identify which previously obscure items are starting to trend and then figuring out how to introduce enough margin so that you end up profiting on the sale. It might be feasible though, with the explosion of small, boutique eCommerce sites it might be possible to negotiate a “I’ll buy 400 for 50% off!” type deal quickly enough to introduce a profitable sale. The bigger challenge would probably be identifying these items as they start trending, but that could be solved by….


Recent member of the billion dollar boys club and frequent target of “haters”, it’s current traction and latent purchase intent potentially make it the perfect place for affiliate marketing. Beyond that, the wealth of potential gift pins and the follower/repin graph might hold the key to identifying relatively obscure products right before they begin to go viral. Anyway, I don’t have any concrete ideas on how you could leverage Pinterest but it definitely seems like the ingredients for success are there.

Totally coincidentally, this article just came across TechCrunch – A Pin On Pinterest Is Worth 25% More In Sales Than Last Year, Can Drive Visits & Orders For Months

Anyway, are any of these actually feasible? Who knows, but I’d love to hear any other ideas.

The Redline Challenge

For one reason or another we decided to sponsor a pub crawl this weekend. The plan was hatched over some beers at Underbones on Thursday night for a Saturday morning go time. We knew we basically needed three things: a list of bars, some swag (tshirt?), and obviously a website. We decided that the route of the crawl should follow the MBTA Redline so that we could start downtown and then finish in Somerville. This made picking bars pretty simple, gave us some branding, and of course we registered

We wanted the website to have some informative information, live location updates, and of course pictures of the debauchery. The biggest problem was that neither Daum nor I have location aware phones. To get around this, we decided to update Twitter with our current location along with a “#loc” hashtag and then have the site update based on that. Since we were all ready using Twitter, we decided to use Twitpic to allow us to post pictures to twitter on the fly. Additionally, we took advantage of Verizon Wireless’s email to SMS service and allowed people to contact us via the website. All told, we built the site in about 3 hours and it proved to be pretty useful. People used it to find us on the crawl and to contact us while we were out. Everyone also got a kick of seeing a live photo stream.

What’s next? Clearly, The Greenline Challenge.

Timelapse Twitter+Election map

This is an update to our Twitter+Election ’08 mashup that was over at Setfive Election HQ

Well as everyone saw last Tuesday night, Obama won the election by a pretty significant margin and has all ready taken steps to announce his transition agenda.

Anyway, at the end of our run, we captured 11021 tweets with the breakdown being 2501 for McCain and 8520 for Obama. Since we had been generating maps all day we decided to take snapshots at 5 minute intervals so that we could watch the progression of the map. The timelapse map is embedded below:

We hope everyone had a good election experiance – we had a lot of fun building this mashup. Now to find the next big thing…

Guestimating the election with twitter

We were sitting around tonight and decided to whip something together to leverage twitter to get some real time election information.

It is ugly and open to bias but we’re hopping it might show something interesting.

We’re also planning to take snapshots of the map and assemble a time lapse for Wednesday.

See the map live at:

Update at 4.40 EST:

So we’ve captured about 6000 tweets and the map is basically all blue. Just to clarify – we never intended this to be a serious vizualization or estimation of how the election is progressing. The project was soley meant to be a fun peak at how information spreads across Twitter.

Anyway, a couple of people have been asking about our methodoly so I’ll try and explain a bit.

We are using the Twitter Search API to run searches that we thought would indicate that someone just voted or intends to vote for either John McCain or Barrack Obama. Next, we apply some heuristics to the tweets to make sure they really are “just voted” tweets. If the tweet passes through the heuristics we record it for whichever candidate and then record the “from_user_id” to ensure a single user can’t blow up the vote totals.

In order to geolocate a user we are using the twittervision API I get the impression that the twittervision API just scrapes user profiles but I can’t verify this. We probably could have avoided using their API and just scraped ourselves but one less thing to deal with at 4am is always good.

The graph colors are calculated by taking the larger vote total (red vs blue) and then determining in percent, how much larger this is than the total number of votes for that state:


Anyway, there are defitley other entertaining things to do with twitter – we just haven’t thought of them yet. – Ashish