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This article was published on February 11, 2008

Using the auctioning madness and Twitter to save lives

Using the auctioning madness and Twitter to save lives
Ernst-Jan Pfauth
Story by

Ernst-Jan Pfauth

Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform.

Pixels, tattoos on foreheads and Macbook covers all have one thing in common, you can sell them. Preferably by letting people bid. Alex Tew made his fortune by selling pixels, Karolyne Smith received $10k for walking around with an ink-ad ‘’ above her eyes and Leah Culver (speaker at the Next Web conference btw) sold the space on her laptop cover for 150 dollars per square inch. Apparently, companies and consumers both love to support these stupid yet brilliant ideas. So why not turn them in to auctionings that support people and organizations that desperately need some money? Dutch marketeer Mark de Kock made this idea a reality by selling his 10,000th tweet on Twitter.

Mark de Kock (photo by Willem Poelstra)

After pitching the idea to Robert Scoble, who was in Europe for LIFT08, he started an auction item on Ebay. Half of the final bid would be donated to the Dutch cancer fund. The second part would be transferred to the bank account of a charity named by the sponsor. The auction ended yesterday and guess who got the tweet: Next Web blogger Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten. He bought it for EUR 152.50. Not an amazing result, yet not bad for a first time. Will this new way of gathering money for good causes become a new trend?

Let’s hear what Mark de Kock thinks about it. “For me it’s just an one time experiment although I believe in the power of an online platform and the possibilities it can bring to reach a big crowd in no time. For example, the Dutch Twitter scene once raised more than 20 laptops for Africa. There will be more of these types of new innovative ways to make money. The difference will be these will serve the masses and not just one persons wallet. If an idea is entertaining enough and serves people who need the money, it could turn into a success.”

Mark also says that when an online celebrity uses his of hers influence to promote an innovative idea, the outcome can exceed our wildest expectations. “Last night I saw a guy willing to pay 10 to 12 million dollars for a license plate. If that’s possible in the world we live in, we could also try and help organizations such as the Cancer Fund. Enjoy your richness on a personal level and and help others to do that as well.”

There are 30 tweets left till De Kock reaches the magic 10k tweet. His 301 followers will see Boris’ tweet, so my fellow blogger has paid 50 euro cents per view. As I’ve said, it’s a start and definitely worth a retry. Some tips for the person who wants to give it another shot:

  • Pick someone who has 1000+ followers;
  • Make sure his or hers tweets aren’t protected;
  • Start weeks in advance, so that you have enough time to spark the hype fire;
  • Get Arrington, Scoble or another influential to blog about it;
  • Pick a ‘sexy’ cause or something that just made the news bulletins.
  • Create a dedicated blog or start a new category on your blog;
  • Facebook is THE medium for spreading the word, kids love to do good.
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