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A guest post by Duncan Heath of Extreme Sports Trader.

The "Pay with a Tweet" marketing model is a relatively recent, but highly effective, form of viral marketing that revolves around the concept of paying for a product or service with a social mention. As the name suggests, it started on Twitter and was originally used to promote digital products, such as e-books.

An e-book seller, for example, would require a user to tweet about the product or about the site in general--and in return the user would be able to download the product free of charge, thus "paying with a tweet." The technique is viral in nature as the product is promoted to all of the tweeter’s followers, who are then in turn encouraged to pass the message on if they want the product also.

Sites such as were set up to formalize the process and track when a tweet had been made, automatically allowing a user to access a digital product once they had promoted it. As with most simple ideas, the "pay with a tweet" (PWAT) model has grown rapidly in its adoption among marketers. This post then looks at ways in which it can be expanded and at other potential methods/platforms where the PWAT magic can be worked.

Pay With a ...

1. Facebook Wall Post
Facebook is the next logical platform for the PWAT model, given the similarities it shares with Twitter in terms of network structure and user interaction. Marketers wanting to promote their product or service will most likely require Facebook users to “pay” by posting the product URL on their walls, thus exposing it to their friends and contributing to the exponential promotion. However, you could instead simply require users to “like” your Facebook page or group, or perhaps contribute something such as a story or photo. The exposure would not be so great, but the uptake would likely be higher as more users will be comfortable doing this.

2. Blog Post
It could be argued that bloggers have been used in a PWAT-style way for many years already. PR and marketing professionals have long worked with key influencers on a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” basis, sending them free products to review or promising exclusive offers to their readers. The PWAT approach (requiring bloggers to simply write a post and link to the PWAT offer in return for a free product) is very similar to the aforementioned traditional techniques in all but one way, it does not discriminate.

Whereas previously marketers would target only a select number of bloggers and the ripple effect would pretty much end with their readers, the PWAT model encourages a socialist-style approach to blogger value. If you own a blog, you automatically qualify for the offer, regardless of your readership. While this might mean not all your bloggers are high quality, it does allow the metaphorical "promotional snowball" to roll on and reach many more Internet users.

3.  Digg
I use purely as case example, but in reality, any social bookmarking site, such as Reddit, StumbleUpon or Delicious, can use the PWAT model very effectively. Roughly speaking, the more social mentions you get on Digg (and similar platforms), the more visibility your story/picture/tool/product receives. Traditionally, the success of your post relied largely upon the natural mechanics of the social moderators of the respective platform, with various authorities and allegiances having an influence also. However, by using the PWAT method, you can reward anyone for “digging” your post and can get your message out to many more users than you would do as a relative unknown in each social sphere. Again, as more people "digg" you, visibility is increased, encouraging even more diggs and an exponential pattern of promotion.

Monitoring Social Mentions

With regards to monitoring your social mentions and awarding those who fulfill the required task, it is possible to do this manually, but it can be very time-consuming. It is usually much more time and cost-effective to use services such as the one mentioned at the begging of this post, or alternatively have a custom monitoring tool built for you. This can be used time and time again for different promotions and even white-labeled to other marketers.

It is not hard to see how the PWAT can be used for marketing things other than digital products. As long as you can offer social users some form of value in return for their mention, you can market anything alongside this value, from phone contracts to new cars.  The PWAT method is the train, the social sphere is the track, but the marketing cargo can be anything you wish.

Duncan Heath is founder of Extreme Sports Trader.

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