Will Sponsored Tweets Survive?

SponsoredtweetsYesterday, Sponsored Tweets, a service that aims to pay tweeters to post tweets promoting brands, was launched by Ted Murphy and his team at Izea.  Check out the site…it’s different than the other sites that have attempted to provide similar services.

The immediate response was overwhelmingly negative as you can see in the comments on the Mashable post covering the launch.

Ted has been actively responding to people’s concerns, both on the Mashable post and tonight on #journchat, where the issue of sponsored tweets was discussed further. People on Mashable don’t seem to be buying his argument. The general consensus in #journchat was that people were opposed to sponsored tweets, but with shades of grey.

I’m going to try to take a look from both sides…

Here are some of the arguments against sponsored tweets…

  • They will ruin your reputation and risk the trust of your followers.
  • Regardless of the enforced disclosure, not everyone on twitter will realize that these are sponsored tweets.  This is especially an issue with new users to twitter.
  • Since it will make you a more attractive candidate, the system will put too much focus on gaining followers.
  • They violate the the “values” of twitter (honesty, unbiased conversation, transparency etc…).
  • They may cause an increase the level of spam.

Here are some of the counterarguments in support of sponsored tweets…

  • If people want to risk their reputation and trust from their followers, that should be their decision.
  • Rather than having any company sponsor any tweeter, Sponsored Tweets will let tweeters choose to sponsor the brands and products that they find valuable, and would promote anyway.  “ I want less sponsored tweets with higher quality tweeters.” -Ted Murphy
  • All tweets through Sponsored Tweets must comply with the ethical standards set forth by the “Disclosure Engine“.
  • If you don’t want to see sponsored tweets, there are already tools available that will allow you to automatically block people who post sponsored tweets.
  • The tweets are completely customizable, so can promote however they want.  They can be paid based on clicks or based on tweets.
  • “People act like this is new. It’s not. We r just being open about it. Happens every day w/ big names, you just think it’s organic.Ted Murphy
  • Ted also calls out Mashable on posting “sponsored tweets”.  This is an interesting comparison worth considering.

There are many more, but that’s a good deal of it.

The allure of Sponsored Tweets is immediately apparent when you check out the site.  They feature celebrity tweeters and prominent web champions who are already using the service and have shared in video or in interviews why they support it. Many people have invested a lot of time into twitter, and not everyone is completely convinced that their time was well spent.  The idea of getting a return for their time seems very attractive.

But while a few are showing their support for the service, a great deal have already started to put their foot down, claiming that they’ll unfollow anyone who posts sponsored tweets.

My thoughts…

While I respect what Ted is trying to do, I don’t think Sponsored Tweets will work out.  I think that because people are claiming “word-of-mouth” is the best way to market, companies would rather pay money to create it quickly, than take the time and effort to build a community that fosters word-of-mouth.

This just isn’t what twitter is about.  Twitter created a place where instead of receiving recommendations from just a few friends and family, you can tap into vast networks of people who have been in your position, and are willing to offer their advice.  When companies try to force themselves into that conversation, it loses its value.

If we wanted to see a message that a company pays to put in front of us, we’ll watch a commercial. We look to our friends and relationships to offer advice, and trust them because the brand isn’t present.

Force the brand into the conversation, and the conversation will just move again…

I’m trying to keep an open mind.  What are your thoughts?

57 thoughts on “Will Sponsored Tweets Survive?

  1. I believe that companies should mix paid and organic media. Each has its place, strengths and weaknesses. I agree that companies should invest in building community, but I also realize that it is a very slow and unpredictable strategy.

    It is analogous to search engine marketing. You can toil away for months or years on organic search or you can pay to be listed in the sponsored results and drive traffic and sales today. Organic results convert higher but paid results are easier to scale and control.

    The best marketing organizations utilize a mix of these strategies in search, you will see the same holds true in social media.

    1. Thanks for coming and sharing your thoughts Ted.

      An interesting analogy, although I feel that it’s one that doesn’t fit.

      Search Engine Marketing is less about relationships or trust than it is about content and strategy…both sponsored and organic.

      Organic SEO vs sponsored SEO is equivalent organic strategy vs paid strategy. Key word being strategy.

      On twitter, organically it’s less about optimizing content and strategy and more about building trust and relationships. With sponsored tweets it’s all about content and strategy. Therefore Organic Twitter vs Sponsored twitter is equivalent to organic relationships vs sponsored content.

      You can’t replace organic relationships with systemized, sponsored content.

      It’s apples and oranges.

      1. Let’s be real here. How many true relationships do you have with the people you follow on Twitter? How many have you met in real life? What percentage of your 1,887 followers do you interact with?

        Yes, relationships can be built with Twitter and I have personally built many. However, it is by no means the only way that the tool can, should be or is actually used.

        It’s a promotional tool
        Most people use twitter to promote something. It may be a blog, it may be a company, it may be a conference they just got a speaker pass to. Commercial relationships are all over Twitter. There is nothing wrong with that, so long as the frequency and relevancy is controlled.

        It’s a direct sales tool
        DELL is quite successful with their dell outlet account pushing the computer sales. People enjoy the messaging and it translates to real sales for DELL.

        It’s a new media model
        Sites like TechCrunch and Mashable use their account to promote content and news on their own site. They also plug sponsored posts within their Twitter stream.

        Social media is great for community and relationship building, but that is a very narrow view of a very wide spectrum of uses.

        1. “What percentage of your 1,887 followers do you interact with?”

          Well…a small percentage, but that doesn’t mean that the interactions and relationships I have aren’t the main focus of my twitter use.

          I agree that the way I use twitter, is by no means the only, or best way to use twitter.

          Promotional tool: Yes, people use it to promote their own work. I’m not sure that it will be as effective when promoting others’ work (when paid to do so).

          Direct sales tool: true. Not sure how that related to sponsored tweets. If you’re just trying to show that twitter can be used for a number of purposes, then yes I agree.

          New media model: If you’re referring to the Mashable tweet that you linked to on twitter, I’m still not sure where I stand on that. There is a difference…I think it’s the distinction between paying to be officially tied to someone else’s message and paying someone to push your message.

          So twitter is more than relationships and community. I agree. I see what you’re saying.

          I’m not questioning whether sponsored tweets are right or wrong. That will be determined by who uses it and how they use it. I see your goal and I think it is plausible.

          I’m questioning whether or not it will work. As I pointed out in my post, an overwhelming amount of people have already claimed that they will unfollow anyone who posts sponsored tweets.

          I’m excited to see how this develops. Either it will work, and will probably cause some big changes on twitter, or it won’t and we’ll have a better understanding of why we’re all here.

  2. I think they key is being open and honest about it. If there’s a disclaimer, I’ll be more likely to be understanding of it. However, the question that arises is how do you monitor/police ethical sponsored tweets? For the most part, I think people understand that certain celebrities endorse certain products. Those we can take with a grain of salt. But for the average folk who’s tweeting about everyday products, it’s less obvious.

    The big hurdle that Sponsored Tweets needs to figure out if stopping the service from becoming spam. If you have careless tweets and folks are spamming, Sponsored Tweets will get thrown to the wolves.

    My personal opinion – I am against sponsored tweets. Social media is suppose to be out connecting with your audience. Sponsored tweets seem like you are forcing your product upon people. I’m with you David, I think Sponsored Tweets will eventually fade away.

    1. Thanks Kasey.

      I think that is what Ted is trying to do. He’s trying to create a method for people to get paid for their influence on twitter, in a way that doesn’t disrupt the natural flow of things.

      They created the disclosure engine, and created a method where tweeters won’t be promoting anything they don’t want to.

      While his goals are noble though, I just don’t see it working out. The inclusion of money will always tip the scale towards insincerity, and then spam. Twitter is a search engine, it is a recommendation engine, and it is a valuable marketing channel, but it is a system that’s built off real relationships, and that’s why Sponsored Tweets won’t work.

  3. To be honest, if from now on, every one of your tweets to me had a quick ad at the end of it David, I would probably get used to it. I’d learn to tune it out and ignore it. I’d initially have some questions about why you even chose to do it since I have my own perception of who you are and your beliefs, but I’d get over it eventually. I’d still talk to ya.

    But what good does that do the advertiser? If gradually, 4 out of 5 people eventually learn to tune out the ads?

    1. Exactly. People face THOUSANDS of messages being thrown at them every day. We’ve learned to tune them out. We’d go crazy if we didn’t.

      If we’ve become so good at tuning things out, how will this work? There’s a reason ads are dying and people are placing more value on social media.

  4. Overnight profit is what this is all about. That can’t work, we should know better by now…
    It’s fantastic how many people can’t accept the fact that some things maybe won’t be profitable, even if they are succesful.

  5. David, I like how you laid out a comprehensive argument here both for and against sponsored tweets. I tend to agree with you that I don’t know if they’ll really survive. People already seem frustrated with the level of noise on Twitter, and added sponsored tweets to the clutter will only make it worse. I think Ted is approaching it from the right way in that he’s being honest and open about it and allowing for opt-outs, but if everyone opts out then that defeats the whole purpose of the service. I think the arguments against sponsored tweets that you outlined above outweigh the arguments for.

    1. Exactly, I love how Ted is handling this and I can guarantee you he’s sitting there watching his alerts for any mention of sponsored tweets, so that he can share his honest viewpoint.

      My question has become less about whether or not I think it’s wrong (I’m not sure anymore) and more about whether or not it will survive.

  6. Here’s my thing:

    Maybe it could work. My company sponsors podcasts that are extremely relevant to us: for example, Grammar Girl. Why the platform of Twitter might not be the best approach, we have had a lot of success with it. I think if it’s that target specific, it could be beneficial – depending on your type of org, brand, etc. Marketing strategy wise, it works for us. Does that mean it works for everyone? No.

    Just to pose a question: If you have a community built, and say I tweet about a product or brand. Isn’t my community more than likely to read about the product, even if its sponsored? I have their trust. If I don’t do it that often and strategically don’t push my agenda all the time, would it work? Just a question, not something I plan on doing! 🙂

    1. This is a very important distinction that must be made Lauren. Thanks for bringing it up.

      Are we setting a double standard?

      Ted Murphy called out Mashable for thanking their sponsors on twitter. As much as I knew I disagreed that these were comparable, every time I came up with a response, I already knew what Ted would respond with, and I found it hard to draw the distinction.

      With tv ads I think the difference is one-way conversation vs two-way conversation. Twitter is about two-way. It’s a lot harder to force yourself into a two-way conversation than it is to pay someone to shout something out for you and hope others will listen.

      1. Would you say that a lot of people have one way conversations on Twitter, though? ie. the tweets that garner no response? As much as I love hearing that they are eating Meatballs, love Rainbow Brite, etc.

        Plus, with advertising, I can fast forward through them. I can’t fast forward through Twitter – therefore, I think sometimes conversation can be forced…. especially if someone asks you a question.

        Do I love the community and engage in conversation? Absolutely. But I also think it’s a delicate balance. I wouldn’t use Twitter for sponsored tweets, but I do talk about products, brands, etc that I like – which isn’t paid. That’s how grassroots marketing is beneficial.

        1. They do have one way conversation, but I’d argue that those are usually tuned out. But then thinking about Guy Kawasaki, his messages are mostly one-way, and he gets a lot of traction. What if Guy started posting sponsored tweets? I think he’d be very successful.

          What about this…compare twitter to a live conversation, or a cocktail party as many have before. Would it be acceptable for someone to walk around the cocktail party pushing a brand message that they were payed to push? Even if they inserted it into the conversation naturally and it was valuable, does the money aspect not make that interaction completely void?

          1. I’ve been to many networking events where the first thing someone does is hand me a business card. That is pushing a brand message 100 percent – cause the logo is on the card. You’re meeting someone representing them.

            The reason celebrities usually sponsor products is because they get traction – no matter if they have convo. If celebs start doing paid sponsor tweets, with their usual one way conversation, people will listen. It’s just another platform for them to push it.

            I think companies like Nascar (big sponsorship org) could really benefit from it. If that’s the culture, its expected. Lynn Morton and I have had an interesting convo today on associations. She pointed out that “works better for assns b/c we have a culture of sponsorships, exhibitors, etc.” and ” Non-profits are lucky in that respect b/c more sponsors, mean less money the member has to invest to participate.”

            Just some food for thought. Do I think it will survive? Not everywhere. With certain entities, you bet.

  7. Apropos of this discussion, there are a lot of people saying silly things like “that’s not what Twitter is about,” as if Twitter were a moderated forum. If by this phrase they mean that sponsored tweets (or what have you) will not succeed, that’s one thing. But most of the time when I hear “that’s not what thus-and-so is about”, what I hear is “I’m afraid this will work and alter my enjoyment” of whatever the medium is.

    There’s a big difference between something that CANNOT work and something that SHOULD not work. To use a fishing analogy, fishing my favorite small stream with a surf rod cannot work – the rod’s too big. But fishing it with dynamite SHOULD not work, because it destroys the stream, but it absolutely will catch fish, no doubt about it.

    Similarly, if sponsored tweets works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I don’t see any reason to think that it cannot do so, though I’m sympathetic to the contention that it should not work, that it fundamentally alters what most of us think Twitter is for, and what most of us use it for.

    1. Well said Chris. The “I’m afraid this will work and alter my enjoyment” is a very astute observation.

      I think that’s a big part of it. People have become comfortable with the way they use twitter, and are afraid that something this different and controversial could take away the things that they love most about twitter.

      1. This group, as in, the people commenting on this post, are a different crowd from the vast hordes on Twitter, though. Most of us deplore the idea of sponsored tweets, and we won’t be getting any, becuase we’re going to unfollow. But I strongly suspect that the majority of us are not following Ashton Kutcher, either. Most of those out there that are will be either unaware of or fine with the sponsored tweet idea, because they’re using Twitter for very different purposes than we are.

        What I think is likely is that the Twitterstream will split wider, with the community types over here, and the “my cat has a hairball – yuk!” types over there with the “best mortgage rates NOW!” people.

        What Twitter lets us do is split ourselves. On TV, everyone sees the same thing, the same ads (if they ever watch them), the same content. On Twitter, we can be watching the same channel and still see a different program. That’s not something that’s been available before. It’s going to require some different thinking.

        1. Again, a very good observation. There is certainly the “fishbowl” problem. There is a moral dilemma there though, as many of the people on the other side of the “split” won’t know that the tweets they’re reading are sponsored. When a celebrity promotes something on tv or in a commercial, everyone knows they’re being paid to do so. On twitter, the paid posts might not be so easy to pick out of the non-paid posts.

          1. Okay, but so what? If @bethharte recommends something to me and she gets paid to do so, why should I care about that? I know that Beth is not going to promote something she doesn’t believe in, because I know something about Beth, and that is that she values the respect of her Tweeps more than the money she gets from whoever her sponsor is. That’s why I follow her.

            It strikes me that those of us that value those relationships we have on Twitter aren’t going to be affected by sponsored tweets very much. I don’t care if someone is being paid to recommend something to me. All I care about is whether I’m going to like the thing they recommend or not. If I do, then their stock rises and their recommendations mean more. If not, then I start tuning them out. But isn’t that what ALREADY happens on Twitter? Isn’t that how you already behave in that space? Aren’t you, as a tweeter, already aware of how precious your credibility is? How impossible to recover, once lost?

            It seems to me that this is going to be a far more effective check on overcommercialization of tweets than anything else would be.

  8. Good conversation here, folks.

    I biggie, for me, is the form that these sponsored tweets take. If there’s no indication that it’s a sponsored tweet, then I find it deceitful. To take the TV advertising comparison, when commercials come on, we KNOW that they’re commercials. David, you mentioned that they’ve created a “disclosure engine.” What exactly does that entail?

    I appreciate when people tweet about a client and note that the tweet is, indeed, about a client.

    (As an aside, I really like the idea that people can CHOOSE what they endorse. It’s more genuine that way, at least)

    Full disclosure, or I’m not OK with it. Otherwise,I’m fine with it. I can just tune it out along with the rest of the white noise we experience everyday or simply unfollow the people who do it.

  9. Great post topic David! My initial response to Sponsored Tweets was a disgruntled sigh, but now I really am indifferent to the idea. Being in a free market gives Ted the freedom to create this program and the fact that he is being thorough with disclosure is a huge plus.

    The argument against sponsored tweets in regards to damaging one’s reputation is one that is a personal decision…it depends on the Tweeter. If they want to be a part of sponsored tweets they need to understand the backlash that could come as a result of doing so.

    I personally plan to treat this program similar to DVR. When watching a recorded program I have the option (key word, option) to fast forward through the commercials in order to get to the show I want. I don’t see sponsored tweets being any different.

    The biggest question you raise is whether or not this will ruin the two-way communication that Twitter has become famous for. Will it ruin it? Maybe, maybe not. There are two sides I see:

    1)People who don’t want ads in their feed can turn them off, skip them, block them, etc. This won’t bode well for the sponsored tweets if a vast majority of the people do this, the program will end, and the traditional Twitter world returns.

    2) (And this is my biggest concern too) Influencers who are looked up to for advice will become too focused on releasing sponsored tweets and won’t focus enough time on releasing the valuable content that we crave.

    It will be interesting to see in which direction this project heads. I know I’m ready to set my feed to “block.”

    1. It will definitely be interesting to see if people choose to opt out of sponsored tweets by blocking users to the point where the service is no longer effective. I think it will happen to a point where people find a balanced system that works, but I don’t think it can completely eliminate the service. There may always be some that use it effectively.

  10. For me, it’s all about the message/content, the frequency & the sender.

    Here’s an example: during Internet Week in NY in June, I believe it was Pepsi (I could be wrong) who sponsored a trip to a manufacturing plant by a bus load of Twitterers. Now, it varied a lot from person to person but for hours I was deluged with “informational” Tweets about Pepsi products–what flavors there were, how they were manufactured, how they varied in different countries, etc. For some people, it was over-the-top & overdone, dozens & dozens of updates. But, by & large, they were messages sent out by people I know in real life (who I value) and it was temporary. So, I didn’t unfollow any of them.

    If it had been strangers or if it had gone on indefinitely or if it was about lawnmowers or teeth whitener, I would have unfollowed them. But, for friends, for a limited time for a product I myself use, it was bearable &, occasionally, somewhat interesting.

    I think frequency will be the ultimate decider for me. If it’s one Tweet a day or every other day and I value the rest of the person’s content, that’s fine. If it’s 10 Tweets a day, it becomes spam!

    Unless it is a “Get More Followers!” message where even one Tweet is too many!

    1. Thanks Liz. I think what it comes down to is that it’s up to each individual tweeter that posts sponsored tweets to use this service in an effective and honest manner. The goal of this service is to pay tweeters for promoting products that they would be promoting anyway. Ideally, the only difference followers should notice is that some tweets will have the sponsored hashtag.

      If tweets seem out of place, too high in frequency, dishonest, etc…that’s where it becomes a problem for the tweeter, and that’s where people feel uncomfortable wit the service.

  11. David, what do you think of these two other examples:

    1) I looked into one of the paid Tweet services and you could also opt to send out unpaid messages for nonprofits. I agreed to one cause even though it would never have occurred to me to send out a Tweet for this program.

    It definitely has the goal of getting more exposure and I wouldn’t have otherwise have sent the message (it is not spontaneous) but no money changed hands.

    So, it’s not really an “authentic” message (I didn’t write the copy) but it is noncommercial. I wonder if that would also bother people.

    2) I am less bothered by the occasional sponsored Tweet than people who try to win contests by RTing & RTing messages with hashtags in them to win a laptop. They aren’t paid for these messages but they are more like spam & advertising than a Tweet that discloses what & who is promoting. What do you think of this #moonfruiting?

    1. I edited it for you (=

      1) That’s fine by me. The fact that you’re not getting paid at all removes any doubt I have that it’s something you’d truly want to share with your followers because it is valuable. Although it’s not spontaneous, you’re still choosing to post it for the sole return of providing value and creating recognition for something you support.

      The issue of spontaneous is something to think about. Sponsored blog posts could seem more natural because blog posts aren’t nearly as spontaneous as tweets. Are we questioning sponsored tweets more because they’re swimming against the tide on spontaneity?

      2) That’s a whole different game I think. Not sure how I’d compare it to sponsored tweets. They are definitely annoying, but equally tempting. A single tweet and I could win a laptop?! That mentality is why the lottery is so successful, and is something that is inevitable, I think.

      At least #moonfruit allowed people to be creative. The more annoying ones are the “RT THIS FOR A CHANCE TO WIN…”

      1. This is the first balanced & calm discussion of the topic I’ve seen that hasn’t devolved into capitalization & exclamation marks (UNFOLLOW!!!). I think so many people see it as a black/white issue and don’t recognize that the fuzzy line has been there for quite a while, first in blogs & forums, now on social networks.

        I’m impressed how much you’ve considered viewpoints that were opposed to yours in the original blog entry. I’m going to have to print this discussion out because I think attitudes will change over time…more tolerant? less tolerant? I don’t know!

        1. There is absolutely a fuzzy line and once you consider all the viewpoints, it can be very difficult, if not impossible to choose black or white.

          I definitely think that the viewpoints on this in a couple months, or even a year, will be very different from the viewpoints seen in this initial reaction. It’s always important to keep an open mind to opposing viewpoints.

          Thanks so much for your kind words and for sharing your thoughts Liz. I hope to see you around here more often! (= Your insights are always more than welcome.

  12. David – interesting discussion you have going on here (very unusual for you ;-))

    At any rate, I figured I would weigh in and hopefully not bog down the conversation too much. I, like you, see this issue from both sides (or try to anyway). However, if someone is willing to sell their Twitter stream to a brand or brands, who are we to say? I’m probably like Tim and would just get used the advertising. Ultimately, what’s the difference between a paid tweet and a sponsor on your blog?

    That being said, you and the Brand that sponsors you, should realize that some of the people they are paying to reach will almost immediately unfollow you because all you are doing IS advertising. Social media at its core is a 100% opt-in biz. If I don’t want to see your advertising, I won’t follow you. Companies need to be prepared, if this is the way we ultimately go, to not reach as many people as they had originally hoped to reach.

    Anyway, thanks and look forward to the continued discussion.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Chuck. It will definitely be interesting to see how effective this will be. If Ted comes out with some stats or case studies of early success stories using this service, I think it’ll go a long way.

      The value of this service is definitely limited by the “opt in” function of twitter. How much it will limit it is to be seen.

  13. I fully agree. This ISN’T what twitter is about.

    But the NYTimes is not about advertising. It’s about content. Good advertising works when it makes the most of the platform it’s inserted into. And this is what Sponsored Tweets is trying to do.

    Whether or not this succeeds will be about how early testers (marketers) show success. Simple sponsored messaging “Brought to you by BRAND Inc” is not going to deliver real value. Inauthentic messaging won’t add anything either. This is a platform that introduces paying marketers to conversationalists. How successful it is will be defined by the conversations thereafter.

    As a speed dating tool, it could be worse. But the value comes from the second date, not the pick up line, especially when you’re paying for it.

  14. David & I have been tweeting about this, and I had mentioned a case of where a version of tweets that were sponsored worked. In that case it was at an event and the sponsored tweets were sent out by one of the event organizer in exchange for the company supporting a scholarship for an attendee. This may have worked because the audience was association professionals & as Lauren quoted me saying above, we have a different culture; one where sponsorship provides value to our members.

    Do I think SponsoredTweets will work? I sure hope not, because it will ruin the credibility of WOM on Twitter for me. I’ll always ask myself whether it’s a true recommendation or something they were paid for. I admire Ted adapting this idea of sponsored tweets into the culture of Twitter (by letting people choose who they tweet about), but it still brings me doubt. I guess what it boils down to for me is whether or not the sponsored tweets will provide real value. There will be people that sign up purely to earn a little extra coin & I think that is what could ruin this easily.

    I’m curious to see how it will all turn out…

  15. When I select a TV channel to watch, I know the TV station needs money to run. Advertisers provide that money. Without advertisers, media outlets would fold. But I don’t have a conversation with my TV. Or radio. Or newspaper. Twitter doesn’t need my money (or else they would have monetized already).

    I use Twitter for two things – making friends/connections and offering the potential for business partnerships. That’s my advertising right there.

    If I want to advertise further (like affiliate links, for example) I take that to my blog. People opt-in there and it’s not in your face. Sponsored tweets is forcing me to accept advertising I don’t want.

    1. So will you block or unfollow people that post sponsored tweets?

      What if, you were promoting Headway anyway, and then you saw that Headway posted the opportunity to get paid for tweeting whatever you wanted about them. Would you not consider it?

      Not saying I feel either way, just putting you on the spot buddy 😉

      1. To be honest, mate, I’ll probably unfollow if it gets out of hand. I really can’t be arsed with more noise in the public stream, and hashtags are severely overused as is.

        I’d be surprised if Headway did this – Grant is a really smart marketer and I don’t think he’d do anything that may jeopardize his son’s baby.

        I wouldn’t consider it, as I’ll do my recommendations of Headway through the fact I genuinely love the theme and will offer free recommendations and tips about it.

        I’m fully disclosed on my blog for the affiliate link and where the money goes, so that’s enough for me.

        I value trusted opinion and I’m just curious whether greed for money will get in the way of that for many. Time will tell.

  16. @ChrisJones, you are correct sir! And thank you for the kind words, I appreciate it. In the two cases where I was being compensated (a fee for people who clicked through an ad on my blog), I was totally upfront and let people know.

    @DavidSpinks, great post & conversation you have going on here sir! 😉

    @Anyone who cares what I have to say… My random thoughts:

    1. It takes two. The person on Twitter and the sponsor. Will you shun everyone you know who might consider sponsored tweets?

    2. Remember that on Twitter you select who you follow. There is a WHOLE world of people on Twitter that you may never know and who could care less about an ad as long as they get the discount, scoop, etc.

    3. To say that “That’s not what Twitter is for…” is silly. Twitter had no idea what it would turn into for some of us, we made it our own, right? There are millions of people who don’t use Twitter the same was us social media folks do. That’s just a fact…

    4. @DannyBrown, Twitter will one day need our money…they have to pay all those investors back! (Typically it’s $10 for every $1. That’s a lot of $$$) So what you think Twitter is today, might not be what it is tomorrow and we will all move along merrily.

    5. Don’t forget that in traditional media advertising and PR go hand-in-hand. I don’t care what a pub/newspaper says…there is NO separation of “church & state.” Been there, done that. @JonBurg, the NYT is certainly about advertising…what do you think pays salaries? It’s not your $2 (or whatever it costs) a day. Yes, people buy it for the content, but they couldn’t survive on that alone.

    6. Remember the advertorial? Well, we do it every day when we share our employers news, content, discounts, etc. So, if you think sponsored tweets are bad…remember that you are being paid on behalf of your company to do the same.

    7. Social media is about business. But what businesses need to understand is that socnets are trendy. They come & go, people get bored or ticked off and move on. So, what happens to Sponsored Tweets when Twitter turns into one big commercial station?

    That’s it. I am not for one side or the other. My point is that we all need to look at the world of social media outside our own fishbowls before we cast judgment.

    If I was the type of person to follow Ashton Kutcher, Kim Kardashian, Oprah, etc. I probably could care less about ads because they are talking to “me!” And yes, I get that the average bear might not know it’s an ad. But that’s why the phrase ‘caveat emptor’ exists.

    As business people utilizing social media we can’t be the moral compass for everyone on Twitter.

    Probably not the comment you expected from me…but there it is. Who knows, I might change my mind when it actually starts happening.

    1. I agree Beth, Twitter will need our money. But that’s not what sponsored tweets are – that’s money going to the user. If Twitter needs my money and they offer a worthwhile premium service, I’ll gladly pay them, not some advertiser who I didn’t ask to be part of their promo spiel.

      1. Yeah, I know, I totally agree with you Danny. I thought I saw somewhere that you said “Twitter doesn’t need my money.” If that wasnt’ you…sorry! It’s been a LONG, chaotic day. 😉

        Just thinking out loud here, but what if Twitter’s model becomes a sponsored tweet every 10th tweet in your stream? Meaning they decide to monetize not through the users, but through advertisers. (Not quite the same as sponsored tweets, but still advertising)

        What would happen to Twitter? Would people just get used to it or would they migrate? It’s not like Ev et al have listened to us on other features…

        Wish I had a crystal ball. 😉

        1. “As business people utilizing social media we can’t be the moral compass for everyone on Twitter.”

          Well said.

          I think whatever happens happens. You can’t avoid change because you think something bad might happen. It’s tough giving up something that you’ve become comfortable with, but that’s life.

          If people start using sponsored tweets, if twitter starts inserting ads, or if anything else happens on twitter, we will adjust, we will adapt, and if twitter is no longer a suitable medium for our fishbowl, we will migrate. The other fishbowls will do whatever is best for them.

        2. Me too! 🙂

          If Twitter goes every 10th tweet with an ad, I’m outta there. Seriously. I love the platform, but if it’s hitting me with crap I don’t need (or isn’t relevant), I’ll go elsewhere.

          However, if that’s their plan but they then offer two accounts – freemium and premium – and the premium stops the ads and offers cool additional features, I’d run with that.

          I don’t mind paying for a great service, but I do mind a great service going to the dogs when there are other feasible alternatives to monetizing it and keeping it great for all users. 🙂

  17. Here’s the problem with Sponsored Tweets for SM folks. How do you get an accurate measurement/understanding of what folks are saying about your brand? If Joe Doe is being paid to tweet about Brand A, you can’t include that as legitimate conversation. Getting paid to tweet completely messes up metrics.

  18. I got here via a link on Twitter. It was from someone that I thought I trusted. Then that person sent a sponsored tweet, so I looked at her timeline (not being online very long I hadn’t seen her entire history today).

    I realized that the link I followed was a sponsored tweet— which really aggravates me. Did you actually pay to have this post sponsored or did Ted shell out the money so you could try his service?

    Not only was the link to this post sponsored , but this particular person sent three sponsored tweets in less than a hour, which is not the slightest bit valuable to me. I have no idea if she’ll send more today because I’ve since unfollowed her.

    I didn’t unfollow her because of the sponsored tweets per se, but because I was irritated that 1.) this post was linked in a sponsored tweet and 2.) obviously this person is going to be doing this a lot.

    Well, you’ve got your results, but I’m sorry to say that my initial impression of this post was soured because it wasn’t recommended honestly. I thought the person who sent the tweet thought it was something I should read, but I find that you’ve paid (or were offered) to have this tweeted. You say that you don’t think sponsored tweets won’t work, but you use the service to get traffic to this post. I find that incredibly dishonest.

    1. Jennifer,

      Thank you for your comment. Ted did give me credit on sponsoredtweets.com to try out the site.

      I am trying the service out strictly to test how effective it is, and to determine if there is in fact an honest, legitimate way to use it. As you can probably tell from the comments here, I am trying to keep an open mind about the possibility of legitimate sponsored tweets.

      I will be posting about my experience with the site, and my thoughts after trying it out.

      The opportunity I posted on the site with the credit that Ted gave me, was “Tweet your honest opinion of DavidSpinks.com”.

      I think the issue with the tweet that linked you here, was that it didn’t state that it was sponsored, now that I look at it. I think that means that the tweeter will not be paid for that sponsored tweet…which is why I approved it anyway, to see how they would react to a tweet that didn’t add the disclosure.

      I think that the person that linked you here, is not using the service correctly, and the natural response that you showed, by unfollowing her, might be the way this type of service ultimately reaches an point where it’s reducing spam. (unfollowing them means they’ll start to do it less times, and with more quality)

      Interesting to hear a real reaction to a real sponsored tweet, and I think it’s something that can be expected of many others. Out of curiosity, what do you think of this tweet: http://twitter.com/magical_trevor/status/3178810454


  19. I never liked the idea of making money from tweets, but Sponsored tweet is one of few programs which I actually liked…
    Probably control over ad tweets is something which I always wanted..and since its been recommended by some big players..I don’t mind trying it out…

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