Paid Tweets — a Scary Marketing Tactic or a Brilliant PR Tool?

twitter marketing strategy everything-pr

With Halloween literally right around the corner, let’s look at some potentially scary marketing trends. Specifically, let’s examine the new trend of paid tweets.

Twitter has been around for several years now, and some have questioned Twitter’s value as a business tool. Many see it as little more than a glorified chat room or yet another online distraction.

Others see Twitter as a valuable online resource for developing genuine business relationships and sharing valuable or interesting information with like-minded individuals. (I happen to fall into this category.)

A few see Twitter as an unexploited advertising platform – a sort of new frontier for commercials.

Welcome to the world of sponsored tweets!

For a fee, some Twitter users will tweet your company’s message to their followers. Some of these paid Tweeters are Hollywood or Internet celebrities, but other paid tweeters are ordinary Twitter users.

This post from Internet celebrity, Jeremy Schoemaker, asks basically the same question that I’m asking: Is Paying For Tweets Worth It? Jeremy comes from the perspective of the successful paid tweeter.

According to Jeremy’s posts, he works through two sponsored tweeting services:

  • ad.ly, which uses the disclosure phrase (Ad by Ad.ly)
  • Sponsored Tweets , which uses the disclosure hashtag, #ad

In an earlier post, Jeremy explains that he has earned up to $15,000 in a single month through sponsored tweets. Clearly, for a few Twitter users, paid tweets can be quite lucrative.

But, is using sponsored tweets a good marketing practice? Should your PR agency rush out and hire folks to tweet your company message?

In general, I’d say “no.” I believe that there are much better methods to build your brand. One of those better methods is to focus on relationship marketing. Become engaged on Twitter yourself, or hire a social media community manager to represent your product or service.

While it is true that some online or offline superstars have a built-in following, most paid tweeters don’t really command that kind of attention. Jane Doe Tweeter, with her 250 followers, isn’t going to draw a lot of attention to your company’s message. (She isn’t going to earn $15,000 in a single month from tweeting either.)

In fact, if I saw multiple paid tweets (remember that FTC regulations do require disclosure), coming from someone that I barely knew, or hadn’t yet built up respect for, I would immediately unfollow that tweeter. I don’t think that I’m that unusual in that regard.

All in all, I find paid tweets to be a scary marketing tactic, what about you?

Will your PR firm be using a strategy of paid tweets? Why, or why not?

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