You might have noticed Ted Murphy in my Blogroll over on the right hand side of the screen. In an earlier post, I talked about how I got my start in Information Architecture. It was a company that Ted founded what seems like a lifetime ago to me. He’s cool and I’m pretty sure he is in no way trying to ruin the Internet.
Despite the alarm bells, sponsored tweets seem like a logical next step in the evolution of social media. And for a lot of people, it will probably be a good thing. For instance if I tweet, “Eating a delicious dinner at Sugo in Roswell. Mmm…yummy meatballs. #spon,” how is it different than if I tweeted, “Mmm…meatballs. Yummy?” Maybe my friends and other followers want to know where they can get yummy meatballs! I know I do.
The #spon hashtag lets them know I’m being paid to tweet that, but in situations where the product or service is actually good (like Sugo) do my friends really care? If I abuse my network by endorsing things that are bad, then people will just stop following me. I mean, I’ve stopped following people when then get all anti-Gay marriage in their tweets. We are all the masters of our Twitter stream.
Using your personal influence to make money is not bad. People have ads on their blogs (and some even have sponsored posts). Celebrities endorse products we know they probably don’t use. I mean, does Eva Longoria really color her own hair at home? I don’t think so. If someone I know goes to Sugo instead of some other local restaurant because I blogged or tweeted about it , I’m a valuable part of their marketing team and I should be compensated accordingly. It’s really what the Internet is about. Self-publishing gives us all a voice.
Sugo could create a Twitter account and do their own marketing. They should. But, I know I’d rather hear about it from someone I know and trust– someone who knows a good meatball.
I think this will be especially powerful at the local level. I might not care that someone I follow in Texas likes Arm and Hammer deodorant. I do care that Gray likes Flip Burger Boutique in Atlanta. I have visited twice based on a recommendation he probably has no idea I even read. I had different people with me both times and now they can tell their friends. For that kind of influence, he deserves a free milkshake at the very least.
I’m not saying I’ll look for tweet sponsoring opportunities, but if I’m going to be endorsing things to my friends anyway, I wouldn’t mind some free meatballs.
Sugo didn’t sponsor this post. I just though, “What do I love that’s local?” They were the first thing that came to mind.