Chirpify, the company that essentially turns tweets into money, is getting into politics.
Chris Teso, Chirpify's CEO, said the 4-month-old company sees Twitter as the perfect platform for fundraising. He said Chirpify recognized social media's influential role during the 2008 presidential election when the Obama's campaign took advantage of social media for a grassroots approach.
"Now it's exponentially magnified this year," Teso said in an interview with CNET. "Why not have this new road for them? It was obvious."
In 2008, Obama had a large following on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. In 2011, Obama held a Twitter town hall and joined Google+. This year, it's all about Instagram for POTUS.
Romney has also gotten Internet savvy, using targeted advertising and deploying a "With Mitt" app that aimed at engaging folks on social media, but ended up promoting an alternative spelling of America for a time.
With Chirpify, people can donate to either campaign by tweeting, "Donate $amount to @BarackObama for Election 2012" or "Donate $amount to @MittRomney for Election 2012" after signing up for an account.
Although the POTUS candidates haven't signed up for Chirpify accounts yet -- Teso said he's confident they will pick up the money once it builds up in the Chirpify vault -- at least 25 U.S. Senate and House candidates have signed up to use the service for their 2012 campaign.
"If you are already engaging your followers on Twitter, why not add that capability?" Teso said, adding that he wasn't revealing their names today to let the politicians make their own PR splash.
Donating to those politicians will work the same way: If @insertyourfavoritepoliticianhere tweets, "Are you in? Reply with the word 'donate' to give $25 via @chirpify." Donors give by replying with the word "donate." Chirpify takes the money out of your PayPal and puts it into @insertyourfavoritepoliticianhere's account and then sends donors and politicians email and direct message receipts. Campaigns can also download donor data to keep track of donations.
Teso says Chirpify uses natural language processing to ensure there are no false negatives, which means specific words and phrases have to be included in certain tweets to complete a transaction.
"We want to make sure that people are commanding the payment properly," he said.
So far, Teso said, there are no complaints from the "tens of thousands" of Chirpify users who use Twitter to buy music, plane tickets and split the dinner bill with a friend.
For the POTUS donations, it would take the word "donate," a numerical dollar amount, the candidate's Twitter handle and a reason for voting in order for the transaction to work.
So I were to "Donate $5 to @MittRomney for "A Better Amercia" would Romney still take the money?