@earlybird – Can You Tweet Me A Sweet Deal?

Back in 2008, InternetNews reported that Twitter helped Dell generate $1 million in revenue via spontaneous limited offers announced via tweets, and people thought that Twitter had fallen into a business model. Then in April of this year Twitter’s “promoted tweets“, where sponsored messages could be inserted into Twitter streams, was revealed as at least one official leg of the Twitter revenue strategy. Now, another official leg of the revenue strategy was revealed that latches onto the idea from 2008, eCommerce.

The @earlybird account, as explained here, is intended to be a time-sensitive feed where deals are twittered to the masses of people wanting deals. All you need to do is follow @earlybird. Basically, like other accounts, the Twitter support page states “you can follow and unfollow @earlybird at your whim. You may also see these offers if someone you follow retweets an @earlybird tweet.”

On the surface this might seem like a great idea, but look deeper and you will easily see that this could become a completely mediocre offering or drag Twitter into competition with Groupon and it’s dozen or so competitors.

What will work and what won’t on @earlybird

Using @earlybird can be done right, and it can be done wrong, and I’ll briefly look at a few scenarios.

1. @earlybird promotes national deals with major brands
Example offer: Free 3G upgrade on new HP Tablet featuring webOS (I wish), first 10,000 users with US address who reserve at some link.
Why this works: This could have huge marketing and viral distribution potential for HP’s new webOS tablet while at the same time having a true nationwide appeal that anyone and everyone could get into. This takes direct advantage of Twitter’s broadcast nature and avoids local competition that would be provided by Groupon, LivingSocial, BuyWithMe, etc.

2. @earlybird promotes regional deal with regional service provider
Example offer: First 10,000 customers who register at link YYXZ get Rogers Wireless unlimited data for $20 CAD/month.
Why this fails: Rogers wireless is a Canadian wireless provider, and only a fraction of Twitter users fall in areas where Rogers has coverage. If I was following @earlybird, I would start to wonder if @earlybird was going to be relevant to me.

3. @earlybird promotes national deal with niche product
Example offer: First 10,000 users who click on this link get 50 percent off a 1 year supply of saddle conditioner and horse shampoo
Why this fails: Even though this might be a huge hit for the horse lovers out there, how many Twitter users would really want to see this type of deal? Sure it has national appeal, but it’s so far from my areas of interest I’m starting to worry that @earlybird was going to be a needle in a haystack in terms of deal relevance.

4. @earlybird promotes local deal with widely desired product.
Example offer: First 10,000 users who register at link get a free extra night and complementary breakfast at any Joie de Vivre hotel with 1 night purchase.
Why this fails: While I might buy this, since the hotel chain is great, they only exist in California. Millions of others who aren’t interested in deals in California will again be alienated or possibly question the deal selection.

Will @earlybird work?

If I signed up for @earlybird, and there was 1 deal a day, but only 1 in 4 days it might be relevant, I might consider trimming them from whom I follow. If there were 100 deals a day and 1 was relevant, I would definitely unfollow them without a second thought. At some point, I need to respect my time and make sure that the accounts I follow provide some value to me. If done wrong, @earlydeals won’t be relevant and could even lead me to associate Twitter with irrelevant deal spam. On the other hand, deal sites cater to certain users, are categorized by category, have deal alerts, filters, and narrow ways to apply my preferences to deals that I want.

The way I look at it, I’m a bit worried about @earlybird coming out the gate too generically and hurting its chances of getting long-term sustainable attention. With people like me wanting low cost travel from San Jose to Honolulu and tech deals on netbooks with Nvidia ion2 graphics, it may be difficult for @earlybird to satisfy the deal hunting needs of its diverse audience.

About Duane Kuroda

Business ninja, deal hunter, Internet marketer, and technology fiddler obsessed about growing companies and launching products. Currently at Peerspin, Duane’s past lives include Vice President of Marketing roles at companies leading micropayments, Internet video, and online communities as well as research and consulting for mobile advertising. Duane has spoken at conferences including Digital Hollywood and Digital Video Expo on topics covering monetizing online content and online video, has appeared on TechNowTV and KNTV, and has been quoted in various magazines. Follow Duane on Twitter: @dkuroda.

2 Responses to @earlybird – Can You Tweet Me A Sweet Deal?

  1. Duane Kuroda says:

    I'm surprised that no one has noticed that @earlybird has been stumbling and NOT doing things right.

    It would suggest that there aren't too many deal hunters who read Revenews.

  2. The Teacher says:

    I was following @earlybird for a while, but as suggested it just wasn't relevant at all to my requirements. Maybe there will be a targetted early bird service, so you choose what kind of deals your interested in?