Pay-Per-Tweet Undermines Social Media and Relevant Content

August 26th, 2009 |


Jeff Louis is a strategic media planner, brand project manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. He's intrigued by innovation overcoming adversity, survival of the fittest brand, history, reading, and similar fun stuff. He writes for sites and is the Public Relations and Advertising writer for the Chicago Examiner.


Sponsored Tweets, an IZEA company formerly known for “Pay Per Post” that paid bloggers to write about specific products has moved into Twitterdom. Sponsored Tweets offers Twitter users the option of sending their followers messages that hype brands or products. The chosen Twitterers get paid based upon a flat-fee per Tweet, or the number of clicks that their Tweets rack up.

CarrotTopMashable described Sponsored Tweets method of doing business;

The Sponsored Tweets platform works by giving advertisers the ability to create campaigns and select, invite, and approve Twitterers of their choosing to participate in their sponsored campaigns. On the flip side, Twitterers can set their pay rate and find opportunities to tweet on behalf of advertisers and get paid per tweet and/or click.

Similar to its blogging program, Sponsored Tweets will carry disclosure in the form of a #spon hashtag. In other words, if someone is being paid to tweet about a product, it will be disclosed, assuming that users follow the rules.

There are a couple issues at play regarding paid product endorsements. First of all, the idea behind blogs and social media is to promote products without pay; thus, we all lose the important value of equitable neutrality. After all, that is why most of us are using social media: relevant content.

What is relevant content? According to Marketing Studies, it encompasses the following [paraphrased]:

  • It is an answer to the informational demands of the audience for which it is intended
  • It is available when our audience needs it
  • It is accessible to the audience for which it is intended
  • It is in the format the audience for which it is intended needs (HTML, PDF, Word, Flash, Etc)
  • It is available on the channels that the audience uses

However, I think that there were a couple points missed; relevant content is fresh, explainable, and accurate. Thus, when we begin to “pay” for content, the “relevant” portion is tossed out the window and we are left with biased content. This, of course, detracts from the very nature of social media. If I wanted someone to tell me which product I should use, I would simply go to that company’s website.

The nice thing is that we can bypass those who send out paid tweets. Simply stop following those that send out product reviews; how do you know sponsored vs paid? Twitter requires those that are registered with them to add a #spon hashtag. However, this is not to say that all paid Tweets will be “bad;” you may find relevant information among the the static.


The second issue is the damage that Sponsored Tweets to your online reputation; if you have been providing great, unpaid content and then switch to sponsored content, you may lose some of your social media clout simply due to the fact that you are no longer in control of your message subjects.

spon.TweetsAlthough there is a demand for paid Tweets, many companies will most likely elect not to use the service because it does contradict the very reason why social media content is important. But, you will get to hang out with Carrot Top and Holly Madison…

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Jeff Louis