No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
About a month ago, I noticed a new program on CJ, DonorsChoose. They were paying 4% on all donations made through affiliates. I looked around a bit, and came up with an idea that I’ll outline in detail for you. The reason I’m giving it all up is because DonorsChoose didn’t like what I was doing, so without putting up a fight, I stopped promoting them (I also only made a couple bucks). It wasn’t wildly successful like I hoped it would be, but it’s an idea that can be used elsewhere, so here we go:
First, find a merchant that people relate to… one that they like visiting. DonorsChoose was a good one because people like supporting causes like this.
Next, this merchant needs to have news coming out regularly, and make it available via RSS. In this case, I used the DonorsChoose project feed.
OK, so I went over to Twitter and signed up as DonorsChoose. That was the part they didn’t like. While it wasn’t specified in their T&C that this wasn’t allowed, they felt concerned that their “brand could be easily mis-represented on a site that (they) have limited control over.” In reality, they had full control over the content on the account, as you’ll see later, but everyone sees things differently.
By now you should see what I’m doing… I’m going to syndicate their RSS feed onto this Twitter account. So that’s what I’m doing, and here’s how I did it:
First, I had to read the RSS feed. There are lots of ways to do this, but I use xml2array. I then read the feed and if I find a unique title, I change the URL to deeplink through CJ (for added fun, I use the DonorsChoose Project ID as my SID), make it tiny, then post to Twitter. Sounds complicated? It’s actually pretty easy.
Here’s the script that does it all, and here’s the table that’ll store the items that have been posted (used to make sure they’re unique)
CREATE TABLE `DonorsChoose` (
`cTitle` varchar(255) NOT NULL default '',
`cURL` varchar(200) NOT NULL default '',
UNIQUE KEY `cTitle` (`cTitle`)
After a few tests (I recommend if you’re going to do this to have a “testing” Twitter account before you post to your real one) I started to syndicate the projects feed to Twitter. I simply set-up a cron to run this script every 10 minutes.
Amazingly, after a few hours, I already had a follower! An easy way to figure out who to follow is to search Twitter for your merchant name (ex: search for DonorsChoose). These people are already talking about you and will likely follow you back. Slowly, you’ll get more and more followers this way, and more and more clicks through your affiliate link. Of course, if you really want to get a ton of followers, watch this video on How To Attract 500 Followers on Twitter in 24 Hrs.
So there you have it – an RSS feed deeplinked through CJ (you can easily change this for ShareASale) which is then syndicated to a Twitter account.
Why am I releasing this? Well, like I mentioned earlier, DonorsChoose didn’t like what I was doing. While I still argue that they had complete control over the content in the Twitter account because I was simply syndicating their feed, they didn’t feel that way. So instead of putting up a fight, I just turned off my script and handed the account over to them. I didn’t need to waste anyone’s time by arguing with them.
What other merchants can you use this idea with? Here’s some ideas:
- World Society for the Protection of Animals (ShareASale)
- USO (CJ)
- Yahoo! HotJobs (CJ) – for example, register BuffaloJobs and syndicate this RSS feed.
It’s probably better to register an idea, rather than a brand name. Even if they don’t explicitly say you can’t use their name on Twitter, they may not be happy when you do.
So this is my Christmas gift to you… a complete script which can easily be changed for other, similar programs. If you need help customizing this script, leave a comment or email me.