I Used Sponsored Tweets!

I know I know…OFF WITH HIS HEAD!  But wait, read, you might learn something.

NOTE: I AM TESTING THIS AS AN ADVERTISER PAYING TWEETERS TO SHARE MY MESSAGE, NOT AS A PAID TWEETER. This was confusing for some people.  I have not posted any sponsored tweets, I’ve just sponsored tweets with the credits Ted gave me.

When Ted Murphy offered me some “credits” to trial the site, I was actually very excited after the great conversation we had on my post “Will Sponsored Tweets Survive?” opened my eyes a bit and made me really wonder, will this thing work?

The moral implications of a service like this are still unsettling for many, but I’m more concerned with whether or not it will work, because that will determine whether or not it sticks around.

SO…I signed up and had $100 in credit to mess around with.

First thing you do is “create an opp” and so I created this…

Spostwts step 1Notice…you can click the box over the instructions which means that YOU will choose what the tweet will say.  I can see a lot of people having a problem with this.

Next, I had to fill this out…

spns twts step 2

Which did pretty much nothing, since there aren’t enough “tweeters” using the site yet, so no one fit my criteria, and I had to choose from “premium” tweeters.  I’m sure this will get better as more tweeters sign up.  In the “targeting” step I got to choose what audience I’m looking to reach.

I was then brought to this page where I could check off the people to whom I’d like to make an offer, which looked like this…

Picture 10Sponsored Tweeters

I chose a few people (the only ones I could afford…notice most are well above $100/tweet!) and sent out 5 offers.

Within minutes I had an offer, then over the next day or so I received two more, and the other two declined.  I am then shown the proposed tweet, and can approve it, deny it, or request an edit.  I didn’t request an edit on any of the tweets…I just approved them since we are here to learn and I wanted to see how well they’ll work.

Here are the tweets: YoungMommy(Worst) OhGizmo(Better) Magical_Trevor(Best)

And here are the results… spns twts results

There were 0 retweets, one (angry) comment, and 0 twitter conversations started. This is probably because of who tweeted out the message.  I would have chosen a better audience, but I could only choose from the “premium tweeters” and none of the ones I could afford really fit my target audience.  Still, this could be indicative of the actual value of a sponsored tweet.  It got me some hits, but nothing of any real value.

Note, I didn’t try to force my message anywhere, and I didn’t tell the tweeter what to say, I just told them to post their opinion of my blog, which gave it more eyes from an audience that I did not have access to in a manner that wouldn’t seem intrusive. My offer required that the person actually reads my blog first, so that they can develop an opinion.

You can still find bias results in this method though, as if there was a response that was overly negative, I probably wouldn’t have approved it, and so you’re only getting to see the more positive results.

So what do you think?  Do you see a legitimate use for Sponsored Tweets that won’t upset people?  Do you see the system working?  If you had a chance to test the site, how would you use it?

13 thoughts on “I Used Sponsored Tweets!

  1. David, thanks for doing both the experiment and the results post here. I have a theory, based on human factors intuition and with the hindsight of other conversations like this around the Magpie service, that sponsored tweets will NEVER work on Twitter. I need to say a bit more about why and have intended to write a post on it – it’s a bit hard to go into on this iPod. Can you tell me if you let thus experiment go a certain number of days, or just until you exhausted the credits?

    1. Kris,

      Thanks very much for the comment. Does anyone know if MagPie is profitable?

      I ran the experiment for 4 days, until I ran out of credit (although I should have more, seems there was a glitch) and it looked like the click throughs levels off. If there are any interesting developments, I’ll be sure to add them in an edit on this post.

      I look forward to your post on the topic.

  2. David,

    Interesting investigation and experiment. I like how you have an open mind on this.

    The biggest thing I noticed about the tweets from your sponsors was that only one of them actually disclosed that it was a sponsored tweet. This is only going to work if there’s full disclosure. Otherwise, there’s going to be angry tweeters feeling cheated like Jennifer.

    Full disclosure and transparency is very important to me and I don’t think sponsored tweets will survive without it. I don’t think I’m the only one with that thinking.

    Thanks again for doing this. I’m looking forward to reading more of the comments and reactions.

    Tom O’Keefe

    1. Tom,

      They all disclosed, although because of the context, the one from youngmommy was very confusing…that’s why that one sparked the comment by Jennifer. The other two have the word sponsored either before or after it.

      I know Ted takes the disclosure aspect of the service very seriously, and that’s the one thing that might allow the service to be successful. They certainly seem to do it a lot better than the alternatives.

  3. David,

    I think that it is awesome that you actually tried out a sponsored tweet service. In my mind, I think that gives you increased creditability when composing arguments for or against the sponsored tweets idea. Great job for taking the initiative.


    1. Thanks Nicole. If it makes some people upset that I’m trying it (it has) then I’m sorry. I do want to give it an honest try and the only way to really tell is if someone tries it out. Hope it helps!

  4. Thanks for doing this review. You raise very good points on both sides of the fence. I agree that people will game this system but I believe, just like sponsored blog posts, that the community will police itself. The tweet that the person complained about shows the power of disclosure when doing things like this. I do agree that the disclosure engine needs to be very clear and it’s a work in progress for Izea. Thanks again for the review! Great job!

    1. Thanks for the comment Trevor. Great point about the community policing itself. That’s how a balance will be found, and if Izea does it right, they’ll still exist in that balance.

  5. Thanks for the insight into sponsored tweets, David. I hadn’t caught one yet until reading your story. As long as there’s disclosure and it’s not tweet after tweet on one person’s ID — it’d be OK.

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