Paid to twit or not paid to twit, that is the question. Twitterland is not just a collection of ego obsessed people telling you “Just put the cat out”, it is increasingly being used as social marketing, and companies like Twittad will help you ‘monetize’ your Twitter account – or in simple English, get paid for what you Twitter providing you are complimentary about the person who is paying you…….
If you are not intensely irritated (and I freely confess that I am!) by the stream of Twitters on say, your facebook account, saying “Just put the cat out”, how do you feel about a Twitter saying “Just gave the cat its Whiskers” – is that in the same category? Even if your “friend” (we need a new word for these acquaintances we have never met and are never likely to, who are listed as our “friends” on Facebook) turns out to have been paid by “Whiskers” to Tweet that information?
When Iain Dale tweets ‘5,000 of my blog readers are cokeheads! http://tinyurl.com/nswgx2′ is that a personal product endorsement, his own opinion, the result of a survey into a subject he just happened to be interested in, or ‘paid to influence the market’ coke branding wallpaper? We trust that Iain is merely Tweeting the results of his survey into a subject he was interested in – note: I am not seriously suggesting that Iain is in the pay of dastardly Colombian drug Barons…….
Is trust sufficient in the world of Twitter? Whilst paid ads from services such as Magpie announce themselves as such, there is increasing use of Twitterers with a high following to earn cash for providing their opinion and influencing their followers without any disclosure that they are being paid.
Land Rover recently became the first national brand to use social marketing, as opposed to paid adverts, to promote its newest models at the New York Auto Show. Twittad, the American “social media affinity network” (an army of paid Twitterers in English!) was enlisted to use their roster of almost 5,000 Tweeters with a high following, not to carry paid advertising, but to promote blog posts which themselves promoted Land Rovers’ products as ‘personal endorsements’. One such blogger, who normally draws around 30 page views (sheesh, what do I worry about!) for each blog post, received over 200,000 hits as a result of the Tweeting and re-Tweeting by this army of paid promoters.
Undisclosed influence is potentially even more dangerous in the world of political blogging. The mainstream media can subliminally influence their readers, without doubt, but we do have some idea who owns each paper, and can form an opinion as to whether the information they give us is politically driven. Part of the attraction of the Internet is the anonymity, and this in turn means that we are being induced to build a strange new kind of ‘trust’ between us and our new found ‘friends’.
The appeal to marketers is obvious, it is a cheap way to reach people through their trusted contacts. Whether it’s on Twitter, in blog posts, or in television commercials, paid tweets are technically no different than the array of commercials and advertisements that are available to marketers already – except that everyday people become the spokespeople and thus it becomes difficult for followers to discern real experiences versus influenced perspectives.
The appeal to political parties is even more obvious, and if the idea of spnsored Twitters from Twitterers with a large following catches on, unfortunately it is likely to make the successfull bloggers and prolfiic Twitterers suspect, in that we will all know that it might be that they have attracted sponsorship and that will devalue their words.
H/T Brian Solis at Techcrunch.
- First Class posts on Saturday Letters From A Tory
- July 25, 2009 at 10:46 pm