My view has shifted a bit on Twitter’s method of monetizing their service through Promoted Tweets. I maintain that it’s not a scalable monetization medium and it will significantly degrade the quality of interactions between brands and consumers over time. Ultimately, I don’t find fault with Twitter for finding an opportunity to grow and sustain themselves. However, users are not so welcome to reading the equivalent of unsolicited advertisements in their feed – and neither am I – so I’ve drafted a few ideas on how to direct frustrations the right way.
It’s my belief that Twitter is approaching their need to monetize because their investors are probably become a bit concerned on when they will get to see their investment, well, vest. After $160M invested, you’d ask questions, too.
So, how does one react to ads in their Twitter stream? Simple, don’t blame the messenger, direct it towards the business.
Advertisers are all about social media. You know why they’re sold … “brand loyalty,” “customer evangelism,” “brand advocates,” “brand exposure,” “brand awareness,” and just about every other corporatey-synergy-profit-inducing reason why they need to use Twitter.
Tell them what you think. Do you really want ads in your stream? Do you want their messages in the mix with your friends’? Explain how you feel and tell them you don’t like it and cite that it won’t result in your patronage.
Many brands are experimenting with this platform. Experimenting. At your expense. Yup, because we know how well advertisers made Facebook a much better place to interact with your friends and to buy things. In fact, because of advertisers, many can hypothesize that consumers trust brands even less. I’m not the only one who feels this way; when advertising is combined with mainstream use of a social network, it decays.
Contrary to my belief in this is the reality that Twitter has to monetize in order to fund innovation, pay their tireless developers and their hard-working UI folks. I totally get it. Here’s a new idea – create a service that brands are willing to invest in for their own research. I have two grand visions – a metrics and analytics platform for their business-oriented Twitter accounts to allow them deeper insights on their activity on Twitter. Second, it would be a really slick interface to the aggregate Twitter data – such as brand interest, market opinion and other fun geeky stuff like that. I’m thinking they could easily charge a variable $25-$1000 recurring for these insights and services and really flex the marketing muscles everyone claims they have.
In other words, Twitter can capitalize on helping brands move the needle for their sales and marketing and PR activity. Not merely just to drive clicks and page views. Those are elements of winning on the web – not the whole thing.
Next time a brand you see invades your Twitter feed with a “Promoted Tweets” tagline underneath, let them know. Let them feel it. Show your true feelings. These companies often justify their social media activities by brand sentiment and mentions. Make your thoughts count. Unlike politics, all it takes a few passionate complaints to inflict change. Just ask Gap.
Likewise, if you know a brand who is doing it right and is genuinely being helpful, interesting or otherwise not being a nuisance – tell them. Show them that you appreciate it. Thank them and give them a RT when they impress you. This gets tracked as well by big brands and it’s one of the ways you pay it forward for brands doing it right.