Sunday, November 1, 2009

Buying your way into a community (aka, tweets for sale)

Just about everything in the meeting biz is open for sponsorship. But should Tweets be for sale?

I've been reading about "sponsored tweets" - where someone on Twitter will "sell" their willingness to talk about your product to their own community - that is, to their own blog and/or Twitter readers/followers. May just be for personal financial profit (or to get what they "talk about" free) - or may be part of a sponsorship package like getting paid to put a company's name on a sign. Trouble is, does the reader know it's a paid advertisement or endorsement? SHOULD the reader (also known as "the community") know?

The FTC has said yes - that anyone getting something free to tweet or blog about; or anyone getting paid to tweet about them should disclose it.

Some in the blogging community don't like that idea. I don't understand the problem with disclosing when you're getting paid to talk about a product - traditional media discloses with the word "advertisement". At meetings, we use the words "sponsored by" along with corporate or individual names - which tells everyone in attendance that they paid to fund something in particular.

Couldn't tweets just add the letters ADV to any sponsored tweet so the community of readers/followers knows that the person mentioning it got paid to do that advertisement? Paid tweets, or tweets based on getting free products, should not be confused with a genuine unpaid personal endorsement.

It's all about transparency, authenticity and ethics. If you get paid to "talk" about something, disclose that payment or freebie to your readers/community.

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