It was a chance encounter. I’d found a story on The Next Web (I can’t remember what it was about) and, when I looked at the story sharing toolbox, I saw something I’ve never seen before. There was a little icon that read “Break the news”. Intrigued, I clicked it.
I was directed (via a Twitter confirmation click) to Spread.us, a new service that allows a user to
“automatically tweet or Facebook Like the posts from your favorite blogs. You don’t have to like or tweet every post. We do it for you, the moment the story is available.”
The idea is that you become an influencer in your community, the first in your circle of friends to break news.
I signed up to see what would happen.
Immediately I was presented with a list of options. The user can choose how many tweets they want to send per day, from none to unlimited. They can also choose which topics they’d like to tweet about.
I chose to tweet twice per day about Apple, Social Media and Twitter. It took about a day before my first autotweet, and I only noticed it an hour and a half later.
It took a few days before I got reactions to tweets and most of them I have to say were stories I wasn’t really that interested in. I spent a while telling people what was happening with my account. Most thought it was a little spammy, but only after I’d told them what spread.us was doing. (I made a @Storify story of all the tweets and embedded it at the end of this post.)
Stardom, brief but bright
After about a week something very interesting happened. A side effect of using the service was my first ever appearance (I think) on TweetMeme. Spread.us had tweeted this from my account:
It was tweeted by me before @thenextweb and before @boris, Spread.us’s owner, the self-styled ‘Internet Serial Entrepreneur’ Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, founder of The Next Web and TwitterCounter.com amongst other things. As spread.us had promised, I was first with the news.
I’ve been thinking about the service a lot, specifically for hyperlocal news. Small publishers could benefit from this service, helping them promote their content through their users. It’s the way that I use Twitter: In general I don’t follow publishers, I wait for the people that I follow to curate their tweets, finding nuggets that are worth reading and sending them on.
I think that for publishers of hyperlocal or other niche content this service could be huge. I live in a large and rural county on the fringes of Europe. There isn’t a vast amount of news that’s directly relevant to me in the local media but I’m interested in those stories that do affect me. What better way for me to discover the stories about my area than through friends in town tweeting links to the local newspaper website? If those users know they’ll be first with the news are they more likely to sign up to the service?
Spread.us is not without some issues, although this is to be expected from a brand-new app (and I have to say that the team responded to my problems very quickly). The publisher-end of the service is still in private beta and beta accounts and (premium services) will be launched soon. I’ve added myself to the list. If I get access I’ll let you know.
Or maybe somebody else out there will on my behalf.