Thursday, 13 January 2011

Celebrity Twitterers: Tweeting us like idiots

Photo: Flickr

I saw an article this week that made me quite angry. It effects me, it effects you, and frankly, I’m a little disgusted by it.

Apparently, Twitter power users and celebrities such as Snoop Dogg and Kim Kardashian charge brands and organisations to mention their products.

Although I am well aware that in these tight times people need to make a buck, frankly, I’m a bit sickened by this.

Just think about it – imagine if you had a mate that you really liked. Somebody that you looked up to, wanted to hang out with, enjoyed spending time with and felt like you had a bond with. Somebody that you really looked up to and trusted.

One day, when you’re in the bar with them, they take out a shiny new phone and start playing with it and showing it off. They tell you how much they like the phone, and love the features. The tariff is pretty competitive, and they know a way you can get it for a bit cheapr than people normally do. How helpful would that be? Very.

But what if your friend had a vested interest in promoting this phone? What if he’d been paid to promote it outside the pub by a man with a brown envelope from the phone company? How would that feel?

I can tell you how I'd feel – I'd feel cheated.

And that’s exactly what these celebrities are doing to their followers. The whole point of Twitter is to foster a more personal, instant, conversational relationship with your followers by telling them what you are up to, asking them what they are up to, and recommending great content.

By charging for tweets, these celebrities are selling out the whole social notion of what Twitter is about. You should share information about products, sites, cool stuff and blogs because you are a naturally social person. Not because somebody has just popped a few quid into your bank account.

It violates the bond of trust that is built up between users on social media. You are broadcasting to your network, and you are not being honest about your affiliations. It’s little different from payola in the music industry. And it needs to stop.

If I’m being advertised to, that’s FINE. I just want to know that I am. Don’t con me or tweet me like I’m some kind of idiot, and don’t create a secondary market out of your own reputation to circumvent traditional advertising channels.

It’s deceitful, and if you get caught, your fans will think you are an idiot. Once that respect has gone, it’s very hard to get it back.

What makes you popular on Twitter? Being useful. Being authentic. Being a pretty cool person.

Paying people for Twitter endorsements is sad. And I hope if you get caught, that the OFT nail you to the wall. #justsayin