Recently, there’s been a bunch of social media exchanges popping up. A social media exchange is where a user signs in with his or her social media account. Exchanges follows/likes/repins for “currency,” which goes by funky names like points, tokens, or seeds. That currency is then spent on people following, liking, or repinning your account and content. It’s a scratch my back, and I’ll scratch your back system. Essentially, it’s a cost-effective alternative to social media advertising.

I started using Twigrow about two weeks ago, but it’s not my first social media exchange. I’ve frequented Pinwoot (for Pinterest) for about 3 or 4 months now.

Twigrow only works with Twitter, and it’s available on the iPad and iPhone. The one drawback of this being only on a device is that in order for it to work it needs to be open on your device. If you want just rake in the followers, you’re going to have to open the app and leave it open. In my testing, I left an iPad on for 8-10 hours. When I returned, the app timed out and went from promoting to stop promoting. Needless to say, this is a minor hassle. You’re going to have to keep it open, but you’re not able to just let it sit for a couple days.

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Twigrow uses a token system. You gain 2 tokens for following others, and you spend 3 tokens every time someone follows you. You’re able to gain a bonus token here and there for tweeting about Twigrow or rating the app. With those numbers, you’re going to end up following more people than people who follow you. Of course, that can be easily overlooked if the quality of users are there, and that’s where Twigrow struggles.

Users on Twigrow aren’t going to retweet your tweets, they won’t mention you, they won’t favorite any posts. From my experience, they’ll merely a follower or rather a number. There is a large demographic of users, but a clear majority are in the age 16-20 range. Other than a low interaction from other users, Twigrow has a huge flaw.

Twigrow uses Twitter’s API, which enables you to follow other users. However, Twitter’s API does not allow you to notice if people unfollow you. The app tries to deter this by saying: “Users who unfollow will lose 2 tokens.” That information wouldn’t be available via Twitter API, so that would mean a moderator would have to go user by user to figure this out. This is all to say: there is no punishment for following 2,000 people on Twigrow, and then going back to Twitter and unfollowing everyone.

I assure you I’m not the only one knows this. Once you fire up Twigrow and start following people, new follower notifications will bombard you. Then before you know it, they’re all but a few gone. I would say about 60-70% of Twigrow users follow/unfollow churn. The sheer amount of this makes the service completely useless.

All while, you’re following all these people and watching people unfollow you as fast as they follow. Meanwhile, the app riddles you with advertising and alerts for you to promote Twigrow. They also want you to buy tokens, and thankfully they’re cheap. You can get up to 10,000 tokens for around $25. 10,000 tokens should theoretically get you about 3,333 followers. In my testing, I was able to keep about 1,000 followers, so that’s about 30% of the users actually sticking. Now, it’s been a week since I’ve stopped using Twigrow, and the users are still unfollowing. It may reach an even lower percentage. The other annoying thing about having 10,000 tokens to burn through is that it takes forever to go through. As a user, I’d like to go through 10,000 tokens in 2-3 days. Unfortunately, Twigrow took 9 days solid. That meant I had to keep monitoring my iPad to make sure it was on and promoting. The iPad also would get warm, and the battery which should be 10 hours was down to around 3 to 4 hours, so I had to keep it plugged in.

Twigrow has an ad bar at the bottom and constantly throws you into full screen ads. For $8, you can have an ad free experience. They throw in 10% spend bonus, which means you’ll get 10% of the 3 tokens you spent back, which is a confusing way to look at it. There was no rhyme or reason on when you received the tokens back from what I could figure. It was usually in 10-20 tokens intervals, and I saw it pop up every hour to two hours. The only way this would be worth the add-on price would be if you heavily use the app and are tired of the ads. The bonus just doesn’t seem to be worth it.

At this point, it’s a pain to get Twigrow to work, the users aren’t worth the effort, and it has a shallow feeling to it. To top it off, the “feedback button” goes to an email that doesn’t exist. I hope Twigrow can continue to put time and effort into building the product, monitoring its users better, and creating a server that reduces the strain on the device, but until then I can’t recommend Twigrow as a business solution. It’s at most a way for the casual user to get a kick out of it for 15 minutes and then delete it.

I’ve spent 9 days with Twigrow, and I only covered a part of the things I learned from the product. If you have any questions on what I covered or things I didn’t cover, please leave your questions in the comments section.