Today In Twitterverse: Sponsored Tweets Spawn Utter Outrage

We live in a sponsored culture. Such is life on the Western frontier. Yet, this fact still has the power to unnerve.
Take my friend Spike Jones. The man works in an identity firm that strives to present its clients in the most authentic light possible. So Sponsored Tweets rubs him all wrong.
Here’s what Mashable is saying:

Sponsored anything — tweets, blog posts, etc — is a constant topic for debate. Anytime you lend your voice to a paid ad campaign, you risk jeopardizing your credibility and reputation in exchange for a check. Plus, when you throw Twitter in the mix, there’s always the potential that your followers won’t understand that your sponsored tweet has been commissioned, even with the obligatory hashtag.

I certainly understand the desire to keep Twitter clean, but it’s unrealistic. In fact, Twitter has been awash in self-promo copy since the get go. It’s not labeled as such, of course. It doesn’t need to be. When people start telling you how to blog, how to Tweet, how to utilize Facebook and so on, I tune out. Just like I tune out when I hear the words “social media.” There’s no such thing. There’s media people interact with and there’s media people ignore.
Personally, I have a hard time with the concept of selling out, something several people claim Twitter has done by allowing/courting sponsored Tweeting.
Take Mashable’s claim above. Everything we do in business is in “exchange for a check.” Do the ads that run on Mashable make the site’s content less credible? Of course not.
Ultimately, people will avoid the messages that annoy them, whatever the source. Nothing wrong with that. If you’re being spammed on Twitter, there’s a simple unfollow option. Spike’s going to use it, and so will others. But for every Spike out there, there’s another person or persons with no wall or a very low wall of resistance.
Twitter as a sponsored space is here to stay.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.