The Ups and Downs of Paid Tweeting

    August 25, 2009
    Chris Crum

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

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.