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?

Comments

  1. says

    That’s a good point Vivienne, and I guess it goes hand-in-hand with Janet’s point about being selective of her paid tweets.

    Still, I would hate to see Twitter filled with mostly ads.

  2. says

    Thanks Janet!

    I certainly agree that @shoemoney has a unique situation. I think finding relevant tweets is key and could be hard to do depending on the area that a person covers.

    If people start tweeting simply for the money without regard to the advertisers, I think Twitter’s value would definitely be diluted.

  3. Janet Thaeler says

    Laura,
    That is a good point that you don’t want to send out very many paid tweets at one time. But I have to say that I still think @shoemoney can pull it off for his audience. He tweets them out a few times. It works. Again, it’s got to be relevant to you and your audience.

    Also, just because it’s paid doesn’t mean it can’t have value. It could be for a good cause or news. Guy Kawasaki is the king of making ads valuable.

    I looked for ads as an example, and found this one from @shoemoney – I actually retweeted it:

    Blue Host offering $3.95/month Special at this page http://bit.ly/39WTkj #ad [can’t believe, RT an ad but GREAT price for web hosting]

    @NewspaperGrl

  4. says

    Thanks for sharing your experience Janet!

    Personally I ingore most paid tweets that I see. Thankfully not too many tweeters that I follow are doing this. I would probably unfollow someone who did paid tweets over and over again.

    You did point out the importance of being selective about your tweets and I think that’s a good point. Remember, once you tweet them they become part of your online brand.

  5. Janet Thaeler says

    I’ve had a great experience with SponsoredTweets. I haven’t accepted every pitch. I can re-write the tweets (Shoemoney does & I’d trust him to make the pitch to his audience).

    I got a new client and have been introduced to some amazing companies through the network.

    As an advertiser I’d target the message to appeal to the group. If used well, it’s a great tool. You can get the word out quick and wide and it doesn’t require a huge budget. Average price is under $10 a tweet.

    -Janet

  6. Matt Keegan says

    $15/K for one month of tweeting?! I need to give my business model a serious overhaul!

    I don’t mind the occasional ad, but I don’t want to see them dominate Twitter. I much prefer have stuff retweeted from friends and people who are genuinely interested in my work, then anything else.

    Still, that’s a lot of money!

  7. says

    Hi Matt!

    The domination of Twitter is exactly what I am afraid.

    $15K is a lot of money, but remember that he was already an Internet celebrity. I don’t think a noname tweeter would have the same experience.

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