The One with the Tweet to Beat from Tim Ferriss

March 11, 2009

I came across this from Ohana’s blog and couldn’t help but want to post it up myself. As a school teacher myself, I get to see first hand just how much budget cuts are hurting our students and the fact that Tim Ferriss wants to try to help out U.S. public school students is just awesome.

Here are the details:

“Tweet To Beat could generate help for thousands of students in high-need public schools. My colleagues and I are cheering you on!”
-Charles Best, CEO of DonorsChoose.org

The Ethical Bribe

The gist: To benefit U.S. public school students, I will bribe the entire world to follow me on Twitter for $3 each.

I’ll also be giving away a round-trip ticket anywhere in the world and a fully-loaded MacBook Pro. But first things first…

This is “Tweet to Beat”, a follow-up experiment to LitLiberation, which was a campaign by bloggers and their readers, and CEOs and their employees, to spread the power of literacy worldwide. It was a new fundraising model based on competition and social media scalability, and it funded not only US public school projects (20,000+ students) but also libraries and schools in developing countries. I’m in Vietnam with readers right now to visit two of the schools.

With zero financing or hard costs, this model ended up raising more than $250,000 in less than a month, 3x more than Stephen Colbert during that same period.

The Experiment

I think that was just the tip of the iceberg, and Twitter is the perfect laboratory for a new-and-improved approach (at least with a few variables).

It’s public and therefore accountable, it’s trackable, it allows exclusive communication with followers when needed (”protect my updates” under settings), and it’s current media popularity makes it the ideal PR vehicle for this campaign. Last but not least, though this experiment has no victims, produces no spam, nor violates the Twitter Terms of Service, this alternative use will get some purists hot and bothered.

Here’s how the Tweet to Beat campaign works:

1) For every new Twitter follower in the next two weeks, I will donate $1 to DonorsChoose.org, and an anonymous supporter will match $2, for a total of $3 to U.S. public school classrooms per follower. For now, the matching limit is tentatively capped at 50,000 new followers, though I’m open to increasing it later. 50,000 new followers would mean $150,000 to U.S. public school education, and I hope to double or triple this total with a few twists.

The goal is directly helping 25,000 U.S. public school students in low-income and high-need areas in two weeks. This timeline is half the time dedicated to LitLiberation. My current follower count is, at the time of this writing, 22,782, so we’ll round down and begin the count at 22,500.

2) There is a simultaneous competition for those who would like to spread the word. Just do the best you can (Facebook, blog, e-mail friends, FriendFeed, add to your e-mail signature, tell local media, etc.) and detail what you did in the comments here. Tell your friends who are teachers and encourage them to do the same. Bonus points go to people who act sooner vs. later. Deadline for comments is March 23rd at 5pm PT.

If you’re able, I suggest you use a service like http://bit.ly to get a unique URL for this post so you can track clicks on your individual link as you promote it. Click-throughs are more important than “exposure”. Here are a few links you can use:

www.twitter.com/tferriss
http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2009/03/09/tweet-to-beat/
http://bit.ly/tldW (shortened URL for this post)

Not sure of what to say? Here’s the simple version for Facebook status and other channels:
“The Tweet to Beat - Paying $3 per Twitter follower: http://bit.ly/tldW”

Just get them to this post using curiosity and let the post do the convincing. For more promotional tactics that work, see the comments from this past competition.

The prizes:

Grand Prize: Round-trip ticket anywhere in the world Continental Airlines or one of their OnePass partners fly. This is pretty much everywhere on earth. Redeem the ticket anytime within 10 years, so no rush. If you prefer the 2nd-place prize, opt for it and the 2nd-place winner will get the round-trip ticket.

2nd-Place Prize: Brand-new condition 15″ MacBook Pro and laptop backpack with the following specs, donated by direct marketing expert Joe Polish (his Richard Branson interview here):

15″ MB PRO 2.6GHZ 2GB / 200 / SD APPLE $2,794.00
UPG 4GB PC2-5300 DDR2 SODIMM W / INSTL
ADD 2GB(1X2GB) PC2-5300 DDR2-667 SODIMM
APPLECARE PROTECTION PLAN-MACBOOK PRO $349.00
PACE 15.4″ (BLUE) LAPTOP BACKPACK EVERKI $29.99

How Little Does It Take?

I hope you choose to participate and make a difference. Karmic capitalism doesn’t take much.

Taking an hour to mentor a child, sending a single e-mail, or following someone on Twitter — remember that the small things are often what have the biggest impact, as we actually do them.

Please spread the word and further the experiment. I’ll share all of the results so others can duplicate them with non-profits worldwide.

Interested in doing more? Please consider donating a few dollars directly to U.S. classrooms near you through DonorsChoose.org.

“One of the great movements in my lifetime among educated people is the need to commit themselves to action.”
-Peter Drucker