Twitter Lets @earlybird Exclusive Offers Fly for E-Commerce

Twitter July 6 began helping its advertisers promote and sell goods over the Internet with @earlybird Exclusive Offers. Twitter retweets product offers through its @earlybird account and takes a cut of the sales.

Twitter July 6 dipped its beak into selling goods over the Internet with @earlybird Exclusive Offers, which lets advertisers promote deals and events on Twitter's new @earlybird account.

The microblog, which launched Promoted Tweets to help advertisers such as Disney/Pixar spread their marketing messages, is now retweeting offers advertisers have created solely for Twitter.

The advertisers, which pay Twitter a cut of revenues earned from products they sell using @earlybird, determine availability, amount and price of their offers, Twitter said on its support Web page for the program.

Moreover, Twitter users will only see offers tweeted via @earlybird if they follow that account, or if someone they follow retweets an @earlybird tweet.

While Twitter goes over deals to promote on @earlybird with its advertisers, it is inviting users to suggest products or events featured on the account by tweeting an @reply to @earlybird.

"Many of you use Twitter to stay on top of timely, relevant information, and lots of businesses are already sharing special offers on Twitter," Twitter explained on the @earlybird support Web page.

"We believe that surfacing deals through the @earlybird account will help you discover the best of those deals, as well as find and follow accounts that consistently provide exceptional value."

Forrester Research analyst Augie Ray said @earlybird fits Twitter's strategy very well.

"Sharing special deals through a particular Twitter account can provide value for Twitter and its advertisers, while at the same time this is something that is completely optional for consumers," Ray told eWEEK.

However, Ray said he is more interested in what will happen next; there is the prospect of letting a thousand flowers bloom.

The analyst anticipates this one account could become many, with Twitter offering special deals in different verticals or combined with Twitter Places to localize the deals much like Groupon currently does.

Indeed, Twitter said that while @earlybird is starting with coverage across the United States, it will eventually "explore location-based deals in the future."

"The Dell Outlet has been tweeting deals and making millions as a result," Ray said. "So, in the end, the question as to how valuable this new tactic will be for Twitter will depend upon how valuable consumers perceive it to be for them. The more followers @earlybird can get, the more value this ad mechanism provides for marketers (and for Twitter)."

As of this writing, @earlybird boasted just over 25,000 followers and is encouraging users to follow @earlybird to 40404 to receive deals from mobile phones via SMS.

Twitter began trying to make money in earnest in April by launching Promoted Tweets, the startup's system for surfacing ads directly within users' tweet streams and in trending topics.

Disney/Pixar used Promoted Tweets to tout its "Toy Story 3" film in June; the movie is now in theaters all over the United States.