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The Ups and Downs of Paid Tweeting

Reputation, Quality, and Audience Are Factors

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Update: Izea has launched thier paid tweeting service (discussed in the original article) on its own site at SponsoredTweets.com.

Sponsored Tweets

Original Article: Will advertising kill Twitter? Probably not, but it might kill the popularity of the Twitterers tweeting the ads if some consideration isn’t put into it.

The concept is nothing new. Don’t like the ads you are getting in an email subscription? You’ll probably unsubscribe. Don’t like paid posts on a blog you read? You’ll probably stop reading. I don’t see why the same principal wouldn’t apply to Twitter.

Word is that popular blogger Perez Hilton is making big-money deals to do some paid tweeting. Some will be quick to point out that this kind of behavior will ruin Twitter, but really, it will just piss off Perez Hilton’s followers at worst. If it pisses them off enough, they’ll just stop following him. At best, he is selective with his sponsored tweets and does not alienate his audience, and makes some nice bank while he’s entertaining his fans (not that he isn’t already doing that).

Perez - Please don't spam us!

Here’s some stats about Hilton’s blog audience from his own advertising page:

Twitter Ads Perez Hilton averages 250 million impressions and 10.5 million unique readers per month.

    * 88% female
    * 9% age 18-20
    * 70% age 21-34
    * 14% age 35-45
    * 90% have attended college
    * 60% earn $60,000 or greater (HHI)

On Twitter, he has 1,008,960 (at the time of writing) followers. And look at what Facebook and Twitter have done for his traffic. It’s no wonder sponsored tweets from him would be attractive to advertisers.

Of course there are others out there doing this already. Heard of PayPerPost? Izea, the company behind that offers services where advertisers can pay for sponsored tweets, complete with unique tracking URLs and everything. Marketers pay for Twitter advertising campaigns on a Cost Per Click (CPC) basis.

URL for Twitter

Izea says its sponsored tweets are all marked with the hashtag #spon. This can lead to scenarios like this where many people are retweeting sponsored tweets:

Blockbuster sponsored tweets

Could this annoy followers? Sure. You’re taking your following into your own hands when you go the sponsored tweet route. I don’t think this will ruin Twitter for the followers as much as it could for the ones tweeting the sponsored links if they are not considerate with their sponsored tweets. It’s a reputation issue. Do you want to be known as the guy pushing ads on people all the time?

Quality and audience factor in as well. "Sponsored" often comes with a negative connotation attached to it, but it isn’t always a negative, even from the reader’s point of view. If you are tweeting a sponsored link for a something your followers might actually be into, I don’t see why they would mind.

Choose your tweets carefully. This is a good rule to live by sponsored tweets or no sponsored tweets. And if they’re sponsored, you better mark them as such, or you are bound to alienate people. I’m not sure where the FTC stands on paid tweeting, but that could be a whole other set of problems.

The Ups and Downs of Paid Tweeting
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  • http://www.havocmarketing.com/ Havoc Marketing

    Hi Chris,

    I do think that paid tweets could ruin Twitter. But as long as its not overdone and monitored by Twitter, it should be ok.

    Twitter needs to keep an eye on the paid tweets and shouldn’t let it go out of control. Otherwise it could be detrimental to its reputation and mass following.

    Thanks for the great post & I wish you all the best.

    Mani Raj
    Havoc Marketing

  • http://www.writtenbysumer.com Spencer Spellman

    No this wouldn’t necessarily ruin Twitter, because this kind of stuff is already happening. It’s the same concept as sponsored blogging. Higher up Tweeters and social media consultants are doing this already for people that have come to them or they’ve gone to and are getting paid for it. I’ve seen it and just like many internet marketers, I unfollow them.

    • http://thecomputergal.com Nora McDougall-Collins

      No kidding! It’s all same-same. I mentioned in a Tweet that I DIDN”T want to spend time getting a Doctorate degree and immediately was followed by Dr. Coach who offered me help with my disertation!

  • http://blogtoread.com/ Guest

    Who cares. If this site gets all jammed up with all this nonsense, people will just start another website and people will migrate there. Of course people are going to try to make money any way the can from Twitter, just like every other site out there. In the end, the site that provides a unique positive experience will win.

  • http://www.controldatainc.com/credit_help Agency collecion

    Twitter has caught on so fast mainly because its being used at a marketing tool by website owners. I dont think this is anything new and googles ranking system is what has caused all this.

  • http://www.iblbuilder.com Need More Backlinks?

    Personally it makes me laugh that the “industry” is bleating about spam on twitter. It is the whitehat SEO and Marketing industry that has been advocating using Twitter as a marketing tool since its inception, yet now when everyone is doing it, some less subtly admittedly, it is suddenly an issue!

    If you took the marketing tweets out of twitter, you would be left with people claiming they are rioting in Iran and some guy in a dorm in Montreal telling people how he likes fondling carrots.

    Twitter was and is HYPE, and once people outside of the industry get bored with the nonsense of the 140 chara tweets, it will die a lonely death.

    • Joe R

      Not only that, but this is more proof that pretty much everyone is making money off of Twitter except for…Twitter. And the more it gets cluttered with un-monetized tweets the quickly that lonely death will be.

      I’m more concerned with the lack of probably encryption that might help phishers and worm spreaders at this point. If Twitter were to implement extended validation ssl I wouldn’t really care if tweets started blatantly plugging every consumer product known to man (not that they aren’t already doing that…).

      If you took the marketing tweets out of twitter, you would be left with people claiming they are rioting in Iran and some guy in a dorm in Montreal telling people how he likes fondling carrots.

      Don’t forget the 20-somethings complaining that they haven’t found a job yet, unless that counts as self-advertisement…

  • http://www.writingconsultation.com Sarah

    I thought that twitter started out as a way to update our followers about what we are doing. Now we are using it to update them with our latest blog posts and retweets of other interesting tweets with beneficial information. Advertising on Twitter? If everyone else I follow is advertising for someone else, I would have stop following immediately and might consider not using Twitter anymore – that is of course if Twitter has become the central of spam. Viagra and so on.

  • http://landed.at landed

    I dont understand paid tweeting is working ? Could someone explain or post a link to an explain.

  • http://www.webpromoterservice.com webpromotervice

    Paid tweeting is not all bad.It can help to vastly improve your traffic but the negative aspect is that you could lose your loyal followers due to the quality of tweets.

  • http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/22112395.rss HomeBizBloke

    Since day one on Twitter I have posted nothing but links to my pages. Yes this will drive followers away in droves ie the followers that are not interested in the products marketed by the HomeBizbloke.

    When joining I purposely used a Twitter name that connotates the subject “home business opportunities and ideas. The following is not high but hardened Twitterers are always on the look out for opportunities. On average 50 new followers a day join the HomeBizbloke. Also 50 followers leave per day. That tells you something?

    No it doesn’t – at least 60% of new followers contact the HomeBizBloke direct discussing or comparing their own Twitter Marketing. So by using Tweet Deck I always have a record of who contacted me direct, and even when they stop following I can still connect with them

    Internet marketing is about building a network and twittering my home business ideas is a twreat. Happy Twittering Homebizbloke

  • http://www.abundantace.com/ ace

    I don’t think people would like reading “sponsored” tweets. Some tweets can be annoying.

  • http://www.expertsfromindia.com/ expertsfromindia

    Well people tend to go chose money over popularity and if something brings in money for you, it will do good to anyone even at the cost of jeopardising the number of fan followers.

  • http://www.dizzysoft.com/twitter/sponsor-feedtwit Sponsor Feedtwit

    I have a twitter app that is growing in popularity to the point that I need to expand. That, of course, means I need to pay much more to keep it afloat.

    I know people resent paid tweets and things of that sort, but what do you think of my method? I’d like to think my followers would be willing to listen to a daily sponsorship tweet rather than have to pay for the service.

    Do you think my twitter sponsorship plan would be particularly annoying? Is it a good compromise?

  • http://www.homesolarpowersystems.or Home Solar Power Systems

    I am not sure most of the would like reading sponsored tweets.
    Few of them could be an annoying one. Also paid tweets must not let it go out of control. Else it might leads to reputation and mass following. Also this would not ruin twitter, because these kinds of stuffs is in progress.

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