If Your Tweet’s an Ad, Prepare to be Unfollowed

A growing number of Tweeters are jumping on the ad bandwagon to make money off their networks by allowing advertisers to use their identity and tweet their followers.

Ad.ly, Izea and Peer2 are three key players in this new consumer-to-consumer advertising strategy that is attempting to create an alternate marketing channel in the face of largely ignored ads delivered via print, TV or online media. The idea is that your Twitter followers will pay attention to (and place more trust in) an ad delivered by you as someone they respect.

According to Joey Caroni, co-founder of Peer2, “We don’t want to create an army of spammers, and we are not trying to turn Facebook and Twitter into one giant spam network. All we are trying to do is get consumers to become marketers for us.”

For tweeters with lots of followers, the payout can be significant – up to $10k for a celebrity who pushes a tweet ad – but the bigger opportunity in the minds of these companies is to marry topic experts with smaller brands to push their products. For example a running guru might accept payment to send a ‘tweet’ that promotes a new shoe – and by doing so her followers may choose to buy the product.

Deception and Exploitation

Paying consumers to insert ads in what is supposed to be their own thoughts isn’t new – Izea already has a service called PayPerPost that pays bloggers to pitch products to their readers – when first launched it was not transparent that the ‘posts’ were in fact paid ads, and the company was sharply criticized for the deceptive practice. Now, ads are more clearly marked but the sleaze factor remains.

Most Internet users do not want their online relationships and dialog sullied with commercial content. Even when deception isn’t a factor, why follow someone whose comments are based on profit, or at a bare minimum, sees your relationship as something to financially exploit?

Tech blogger, Robert Scoble, explained it this way in a New York Times article. “It [advertising within your content] interferes with your relationship with your friends and your audience.” Scoble also noted that he “unfollows” people on Twitter who send him ads.

My Promise

No content on ilookbothways.com, and my twitter account http://twitter.com/LindaCriddle has ever been influenced by profit. We do not, nor will we accept advertising. Right or wrong, the content we provide represents the best advice we have to give.

If I recommend a product, – and I do from time-to-time – it is because I genuinely recommend it. There is no financial compensation for doing so. Period.

When I follow someone’s blog, tweets, or comments, I do so because I want their honest take. If their comments are motivated by ad revenue, the honesty of the interchange is gone and so am I.

Linda

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