Political campaigns have become intimately familiar with Twitter as a tool for getting their message out. But now politicians have a whole new way to use the social networking service: To take donations.
Soon, you'll begin seeing little cards in your timeline that prompt you to contribute to this or that candidate or cause. They look like this:
Clicking on the button leads you to another screen that asks you for your payment and personal information. When you're done, Twitter will encourage you to spread the word with a unique link called a — wait for it — $Cashtag.
The new tech is the result of a partnership between Twitter and Square, the mobile payments company. Here's why it's a big deal. Political campaigns have been trying to get mobile donations working for years. As consumers increasingly shift from desktop apps to mobile apps, politicians need to follow that money to ensure their success. Many urgently recognize that mobile donations need to be a part of their strategy. Thing is, the solutions that are out there still aren't the best they could be. Sometimes they require you to download a separate app, or visit a political Web site. That's time out of a voter's day.
Twitter, by contrast, is already a destination hundreds of millions of people visit every day — so if you can embed something there that makes donations a cinch, you've just solved part of the problem for campaigns of every political persuasion.
It's no surprise to see Twitter and Square working together. Both companies were founded by entrepreneur Jack Dorsey, and it's clear Dorsey sees mobile payments integration as another way to help Twitter become more profitable.
But it's politicians and political issue advocates who really stand to benefit the most. No longer do they have to convince grass-roots donors to make a detour online; nor do they have to spend valuable campaign resources to contract with or build, test and field a mobile donation platform of their own.