Could Twitter bring down the Super PACs? Social commerce startup Chirpify hopes so
Using Twitter for online transactions is nothing new. Neither is political wars playing out in social media. Putting them together? Now that’s something to tweet about, and that is precisely what Chirpify, the Twitter commerce payment system, is banking on with the launch today of its new Twitter Fundraising for Politicians platform.
The operation is simple enough. Campaigns tweet a request for a donation from their Chirpify dashboard, specifying a dollar amount. Donors give directly by replying with the word “donate.” Chirpify, which launched a year ago with the promise to “Monetize your followers,” facilitates the transaction, and both sides receive a receipt via email and direct message. Political donations are thereby reduced to the ease of a tweet. And, Chirpify, which got the social world buzzing with its musicians-to-fans social commerce offering earlier this year, is now entering the big money pond of politics.
Chirpify has also launched a “Tweet a Presidential Candidate” website, tweetlection.com. After signing up for a Chirpify account, users can not only contribute, but also track donations to both the Obama and Romney presidential campaigns.
Twitter e-commerce is by no means a recent phenomenon. Both individuals and companies have done so with more frequency over the past year, through their twitter feeds. Chirpify though aims to own this space and is getting the investment capital to do so.
Chirpify isn’t the first or only company to capitalize on the combination of money and mass followings in politics. Sites such as Piryx.com allow users to share their causes and raise donations through links to places like Facebook and Twitter itself. Now, donations of up to $10 can even be made via text message. These tools, however, rely on a middleman and are less immediate. The goal of Twitter Fundraising for Politicians, according to Chirpify CEO Chris Teso, is to transfer the company’s “frictionless” transaction system to political contributions, bypassing intermediaries and a lengthy donation process that discourages donors. In this way, a popular social media outlet transforms into an accessible form of political expression.
Could this be the new direction of political and social commerce? The answer lies in Chirpify’s history. The company’s first venture into Twitter commerce came last year, turning tweets into seamless transactions for both physical and digital goods, as well as for other fundraising initiatives. By expanding into the world of political contributions, however, it has embraced new financial horizons, channeling a network of money and influence that is limitless. This, along with the combination of “one step transactions, social commerce, and Twitter’s real-time reach” seems to indicate that Twitter has become the latest, and most efficient installment in an ever-expanding digital, and by extension, political marketplace.
As political communication is increasingly played out online, a field that is never short on savvy has turned the internet into an ally. According to The Washington Post, on the 2008 campaign trail the Obama campaign raised a cool half-billion dollars through online donations. In what could be the first billion dollar presidential campaign, Chirpify’s Twitter commerce strategy of monetizing followers could prove immensely lucrative for all parties involved.
The tagline on tweetlection.com reads, “There’s power in individual donations.” And so, too, to the politicians who receive them.