Twitter Enables New Selling Venue

'What are you doing?' becomes 'What are you selling?'

by staff writer
- Dec 30, 2008

Sellers and buyers got a Christmas present this year: A new venue where they can show off and browse items, free of charge.

A new classified listing service has emerged, using the social networking site, Twitter, as a platform. Known—for now, anyway—as Tweebay, the application lets users display items in more than 20 categories, including antiques, cars and electronics.

"The advantage of selling things on Twitter is that you can alert everyone following you on the service that you have something to sell," reports the Washington Post.

Tweebay works like this: Sellers and buyers use their Twitter accounts to post or browse items. Tweebay never asks users for their Twitter password, and sellers have up to 240 characters to describe their goods. They can also upload a photo to accompany the listing. And Tweebay sends out direct messages to users when bids are made.

The site is easy to use, reports Paul Rawlings, Tweebay's developer. Rawlings says that—while the name is an obvious play on "eBay"—he didn't intend to create an auction site or an eBay competitor. He just wanted to show others how cool Twitter is.

"eBay is an awesome auction and listing site, and I think Tweebay could sit alongside it," he says. "People who want a really in-depth auction and listings site would probably be more inclined to use eBay. I want to keep Tweebay simple and easy to use. I think it is key to success, and (this is) where the differential will be."

Currently there is no way to pay for items on Tweebay; the service merely puts buyers and sellers in contact with each other, and they work out the details. Few transactions have been completed on the site, Rawlins notes. Still, users seem happy, and developers are adding new features to draw more users.

Brad Schepp, an e-commerce expert and Auctiva contributor, says Tweebay could help sellers get an advantage over their competitors if they know how to write tight descriptions.

"It could be a good way to reach impulse buyers—if anyone is buying on impulse," he notes.

But Schepp reports that he hasn't come across a seller who has attributed an increase in business to Twitter. Yet the site could help send some people's "friends" to their eBay Stores, although not in great numbers.

Schepp has not tried Tweebay, but says he would give it a shot.

"Every time I think to shoot Twitter down, I'm proven wrong, so I've become a believer—a follower," Schepp reports.

Rawlings acknowledges that calling his service "Tweebay" is bound to ruffle some feathers in eBay's legal department. He says he's prepared to rename the site if asked to.

Editor's note: Shortly after this article was published, Rawlings was asked by eBay to change the name of his selling venue. The site now goes by the name Tweba. It has also been updated to support Google Checkout and PayPal, and offers users a simple "yes or no" feedback system.

About the Author

Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.

Other Entries by this Author

Follow Us