To sell or not to sell, that’s the $64,000 question on the minds of a lot of regular Twitterers right now.
Sites like Ad.ly and Sponsored Tweets offer people the opportunity to post ads in their Twitter stream. Usually the more followers you have, the more you can charge for ads, the fact that the number of followers by itself is an extremely poor indicator of influence doesn’t seem to matter much right now to the people buying and selling tweets. You can set your rate at whatever you’d like and if the advertiser thinks it’s a good bang for their buck, so far at least, they’ve been eager to pay some pretty audacious prices for a single tweet on the more popular streams.
Some Twitter users have made upwards of $3,000 a week using one or both of the services I mentioned before. Obviously this is a pretty enticing figure considering we’re only talking about a few tweets at the most. I can’t say that if I had the leverage to make that kind of scratch off of a couple of tweets that I would definitely turn it down. Unfortunately I’m a pretty late adopter to the Twitter scene so I don’t have nearly enough followers for that to be an issue for me. Which is also great for me because, for now at least, it takes the decision on whether or not to sell ads out of my hands.
What do I mean by that? Well, since I’m still in the process of building up my Twitter network and engaging the people I’m already following the amount of revenue I could generate with ads is insignificant enough that it wouldn’t be worth me potentially offending and losing people that have chosen to follow me.
That being said, that’s a decision that everyone has to make for themselves. Does the potential financial gain outweigh the potential loss of followers or loss of credibility with your followers?
I don’t think there’s a clearly defined answer to this question, although I do believe that in-tweet advertising is not going away and will only continue to grow as people acclimate to it and it becomes less of a hot-button issue.
While there are no clearly defined boundaries for tweet selling, I can think of a few good rules of thumb that should be adhered to.
- More than any other form of advertising, selling tweets has the potential to seriously damage your personal reputation so you better be damn sure that the product you’re hawking is something that you actually believe in, have experience with or at least researched heavily, otherwise people are going to be PISSED when they get a hunk of crap in the mail that they bought based on your personal recommendation.
- If you’re not going to be making some pretty serious, legitimate cash by selling your tweets, it’s probably not worth the risk. Serving up ads in your tweets could not only cost you people who are already following you, but it could seriously effect people’s decisions on whether or not to follow you in the future. If you’re only making a few bucks, why not just work on connecting with your followers and leave the ad considerations until you’ve got a much larger, more stable group of followers.
- If you’re a corporation or organization, you should never sell your tweets. Your goal is to engage your clients and build trust with them. Selling ads will pretty much accomplish the exact opposite of that.
- No matter who you are, do not tweet more than one ad a day.
- If you do decide to sell ads ONLY sell ads that are relevant to the rest of your posts. If you’re a tech/gadget guy and all of the sudden I see an ad for Victoria’s Secret in your stream that’s more than likely going to get you an unfollow.
One of the reasons this is such a sensitive issue is the nature of the medium. If you sell ads on your blog, it’s understood that you are selling inventory and filling it with pretty much anything you can. When you sell ads on Twitter the implication is that you are personally recommending this product to your followers and it just so happens you got paid for it.
At some point everyone on Twitter will make the decision (or not make a decision at all) on whether or not to sell their tweets. Each person needs to seriously weigh the pros and cons. Think about your audience and how they will react to ads in your stream? Are you willing to risk losing some of your followers for the sake of a few bucks? Chances are, if you follow the advice I’ve already given, and actually wait until you are in a position to charge some serious cash for selling your tweets you will already be able to answer these questions because you’ve already connected enough with your base to understand what the expect from you.
It seems as if monetizing tweets is part of the natural evolution of Twitter, what you have to decide is whether or not you’re willing to follow people who are trying to hawk their #ads to you, or are you going to chain yourself to the base of the Twitter tree and roll around in patchouli with the other “Twitterhuggers”. To be honest, I haven’t made up my mind which group I’m going to fall into for now. Have you?