Every time a new social media site comes online, marketing people try to find ways to use it to advantage. Why not? It’s their job to look for marketing opportunities at every opportunity. Paying for tweets is not new. Cynthia Boris (writing on Marketing Pilgrim) came across a new twist on the paid tweet option – rather than having a customer pay cash for a product, they could pay by publishing a prewritten tweet.
Naturally, you wouldn’t be doing this with an expensive product. Cynthia’s example was for an ebook, however, even at a paltry $2 a copy, if you have 100 customers use the tweet options, that’s $200 out of your business’s till. You could write it off to marketing costs, however, there is still some expectation of a return.
Cynthia’s post goes a step further and ponders the affect that FTC advertising disclosures have on these types of activities. It’s a valid point. When does a tweet or like become a recommendation? If the person tweeting or liking has not used the product, and is tweeting or liking in return for a reward, should there be a disclosure?
This is where businesses, particularly small businesses, need to tread warily. The regulations, whilst black and white in principal, they are very gray in practice. It will all come down to the wording, and whether or not a normal person would consider that tweet or like a recommendation to buy. If they would, then disclosure is a must.
Paying for tweets and likes does not always deliver any benefits to the business. If rewards is the motivation, then you are likely to see a lot of people taking the reward, but not converting into long term customers. Your marketing dollars could be better spent on coupons, advertising or any number of alternate marketing options. It should also be remembered that people often look down on businesses that try to buy popularity – this could then have a negative effect on your brand, your image and your reputation.