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Twitter's new tip jar is good for creators and consumers

When I first heard about Twitter's upcoming tip jar feature, I was a little underwhelmed. But lately I've had a change of heart.

I've said plenty about how I think Twitter is setting itself up to become one of the best platforms for creators. But next to Twitter's other upcoming blockbuster features — especially Super Follows, which will allow users to post to a private feed for paid subscribers — the tip jar announcement initially struck me as somewhat trivial.

Donors, I reasoned, are more frugal and unpredictable than paid subscribers, so tips aren't going to bring in much money for people.

What made me come around isn't exactly that I was "wrong" about this. It's just that I now see all of this as a feature rather than a bug.

Specifically, I can now think of at least three reasons why tips will make Twitter better. And not just for creators, but for everyone.

  1. Tips will favor creators over corporations
  2. Tips will incentivize creators to write more helpful content
  3. Tips won't wall off content for those who don't pay

Hear me out:

Tips will favor creators over corporations

Tipping psychology is different than buying psychology.

Buying is transactional, and often impersonal. Faceless corporations excel at this game. I give you this cash, you give me that product. No "thank you" necessary. That cash was my "thank you."

Tipping, on the other hand, is deeply personal. It's about support, gratitude, advocacy. Here corporations struggle to keep up with creators. You make the changes I want to see in the world and I send you a token of my support. You help me in a way that really resonates with me and I give you a financial show of appreciation. Ideally with a personal message attached.

Now there's an extent to which this favoritism toward creators will also be true for Super Follows (again: Twitter's upcoming paid subscription service for private feeds), but just not to the same degree. Take the @nytimes. You can imagine that account making serious money on a private breaking news feed. But since they're essentially an anonymous storefront, people won't be eager to send them tips.

Tips encourage more helpful content

The tip incentive will change what people tweet about. This might sound circular, but they'll motivate creators to tweet the kind of value people might pay for.

For example, two kinds of tweets that do well right now are aphorisms — compact, cleverly worded sayings about the world (see naval's feed) — and long-form instructional threads (see Julian's feed). Both forms get shared widely if done well, but instructional threads are probably more likely to "convert" to donations since a) they tend to provide more explicit value and b) they give the author more surface area to express their personality, opinions, vulnerabilities, and the other trust-enhancing qualities that make donors pull out their wallets.

Tips won't wall off content for those who don't pay

A final admirable note on the tipping system is it won't put a bunch of valuable content behind paywalls the way Super Follows and paid newsletters will. Writers can get paid for their content while still reaching readers who are strapped for cash.

This isn't a knock on paywalls. Super Follows, for their part, will bring a lot of great new content to Twitter that's currently getting published elsewhere. But the Twitter ecosystem as a whole will be a lot better with donations in the mix.

  1. 2

    The tipping feature that Twitter is working on reminds me of the “Donations” feature that YouTube implemented for YT streamers to essentially get tipped for their work. In most cases, the Donations feature was used well. But I’ve also seen some channels using it in controversial ways to illicit payment from their fans in exchange for a shoutout.

  2. 2

    I like the idea of tips, always... but they haven't always incentivized the right behaviors... that's the hard part.

    .... and they have often follow power laws re: popularity, etc.

    ... maybe it'll be different this time.

  3. 2

    I can attest to the power of tipping and personal connections.

    Recently a small open source project of mine went viral on Hacker News, the GitHub repo was flooded with 40K views over a few days, and I got $24 worth of donations via the repo's Buy Me A Coffee button. Which is puny, but much more than the $0 I made over the same time period with my only paid product, an ebook.

    We'll see whether Twitter will restrict tipping to superstar influencers with large followings, thus making the rich reacher as usual, or open it up also to small creators.

  4. 1

    Overall, I whole heartedly agree that having a tipping option in social media is a great thing.

    The main problems I see with the Tip Jar:

    1. Not sure about all of the services, but likely the minimum tip across the board is going to be $1 (and carry $0.33 fees). How often do you see a tweet that is worth $1? Not too often. So what are you supposed to do? Keep track of the tweets you would have tipped for until it adds up to be worthwhile?

    2. First it is the app only, not in the browser. I assume this will be changed eventually. But the bigger issue is that you have to go to the users profile then select the service, if the user even has it available. That is rather impractical. They need to put it with the tweets.

    ****************** Warning, Shameless self plug below *********************
    We have a tipping service for small tips ($0.01-1.00) at https://cptip.me which just gives you a link you can share in your social media posts or anywhere. The page is very simple, just a series of buttons that users can click to leave a tip. No forms to fill out, just click and done. There is also a field at the bottom where users can leave a custom tip amount.

    We don't even collect addresses, so no worries that we will share them :)))))))

  5. 1

    Is it becouse BitClout?

    1. 1

      This comment was deleted 4 months ago.

  6. 1

    This comment was deleted 2 months ago.

    1. 1

      If you need tips for something, we have a bunch of tipping options for users at centipenny.com

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