Twitter is on the move, continuously launching features to enhance the advertising experience on Twitter. (Last week Twitter took the wraps off a beta service that will allow brands to target Promoted Tweets–the ad units that are actually Twitter messages–by country.) But what are the rules of engagement and to what extent (if any) should we promote goods and services in our Twitter stream? Ken Herron, social marketing authority and CMO at social applications and solutions company SocialGrow Inc., is back with a dose of valuable – and practical advice.
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#DearKen What are the pros and cons of sticking ads in your Twitter feed, and what is there to consider?
Thank you for your question. What fun! A great question with no “right” answer, on which lots of people (including myself!) have strong opinions! Let’s tuck in.
The usual preface before we start to keep my company’s lawyers happy – my answers are my own, and are based on my personal experience running my own company’s social media efforts, managing a team of brilliant social marketers, and advising my B2C and B2B social marketing consulting clients. Your mileage may vary.
That said, do I think sticking ads in *any* of my personal or professional social content streams, such as Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, is a good idea? No. Hell no. Come closer to your screen so I can talk some sense into you for even considering this.
One of the joys of social media is its meritocracy. Setting aside Charlie Sheen and Kim Kardashian for a moment, on social media, the best content becomes viral. Social media creates a level playing field. Regardless of size or budget, any company, organization, or brand can quickly and cost-effectively get their message heard.
Social media is branding at its purest. We all learned in business school that a brand is a promise of value, an “earned trust” that defines your audiences’ expectations for what you will deliver. When people follow, friend, or connect with you on a social platform, it’s because they find the content you offer to be actionable, valuable, educational, interesting, or just plain entertaining (cue Charlie and Kim). As with any form of branding, consistency is key. Think about how turned off you are when your favorite athlete or entertainer starts talking about politics.
On my Twitter accounts, I freely recommend and promote people, products, and organizations that I like. What would be the value of these social recommendations if I were to include paid third-party ads from http://ad.ly/, http://mylikes.com/, or http://sponsoredtweets.com/ in my content stream? The value, my value, would plummet. Many people would simply stop listening to me, and the ones who didn’t would begin to question my recommendations. I would lose their trust.
An admittedly long-winded “no” from me on whether you should place ads in your Twitter feed. But what do *you* think? Would you be willing to monetize your social influence by placing advertising in your Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn feeds? Please share why or why not with us in the comments section below.
Editor’s note: Do YOU have a question about social marketing technologies, tools, and best practices? Tweet it with the hashtag “#DearKen”. All tweets will be acknowledged, and considered as being submitted for publication.