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Social Experiment: Twitter Users Prefer Bitcoin to Hard Cash

Andrew Torba's social media experiment indicates that both bitcoin enthusiasts and non-users see value in the cryptocurrency.

Dec 11, 2013 at 12:10 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 10, 2021 at 12:03 p.m. UTC

As a startup founder using social media, I’m always thinking of new ways to engage my fans.

I'm also a bitcoin enthusiast, so I thought: “what better way to combine both of these passions than having a social media bitcoin giveaway on Twitter?”

However, this experiment wasn’t only about social media engagement, as it proved that bitcoin enthusiasts and non-users both see value in the currency.

The engagement I saw in these experiments is important for several reasons. Namely, for bitcoin to achieve longterm success, “normal” people outside of enthusiasts like myself need to see value in digital currency as something they can use to buy or exchange with.

The Kierkegaard experiment

My first experiment was built to include bitcoin's USD value into my giveaway tweet.

Who wouldn’t take a lucky guess at my favourite philosopher to earn a quick $5? Eventually someone answered Kierkegaard correctly. Realistically, it was only a matter of time after the process of elimination.

Most people have never heard of Kierkegaard, but a follower named Jesse guessed correctly and won the prize. I instantly transferred her $5 in bitcoin.

What was even more interesting was the fact that Jesse had not been involved in bitcoin before this contest. Jesse had to create a Coinbase account before she could accept the transaction, and is now an official bitcoiner.

Thus, Jesse saw enough value in bitcoin to take the time to engage in my giveaway and create a wallet after winning.

@torbahax @medium Thoreau?— Ryan LeFevre (@MeltingIce) November 30, 2013

— Julie Nilsson Smith (@julnilsmith) November 30, 2013

— Jordan Hudgens (@jordanhudgens) November 30, 2013

— Thomas Dehod (@thomasdehod) November 30, 2013

— Marc Köhlbrugge (@marckohlbrugge) November 30, 2013

— jessedukes (@jessedukes) November 30, 2013

— Marc Köhlbrugge (@marckohlbrugge) November 30, 2013

— jessedukes (@jessedukes) November 30, 2013

12 hours later, I decided to run another test – this time stating the value of the prize in BTC, not USD.

I was shocked to not only see engagement from bitcoin enthusiasts, but also from bitcoin newcomers like Jesse too. The interesting part about this test is that 0.000877 BTC was worth only $1 at the time of the experiment.

Most of us don’t bother to pick up a penny on the ground as we walk down the street, but plenty of people were more than willing to invent some amazing bitcoin brand names for $1.

Ironically, more people submitted bitcoin startup brands for a fraction of 1 BTC than the amount of people who were willing to take a random guess at my favourite philosopher for $5.

— Stijn Pielage (@Aplus212) November 30, 2013

— Neeraj Thakur (@NeerajT4) November 30, 2013

— Carlos Cardona (@cgcardona) November 30, 2013

— Christopher Elston (@CElston) November 30, 2013

— Nick (@JustAnother___) November 30, 2013

— Nick (@JustAnother___) November 30, 2013

Social media engagement is about surprise and delight.

Completing a transaction is instant, magical, and surprising. It’s also something that you need to experience for yourself to truly appreciate.

This experiment proved to me that the market is starting to see value in bitcoin. Regardless of whether consumers were new to bitcoin, or were enthusiasts like me – they engaged.

Twitter image via Shutterstock

DISCLOSURE

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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