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Paid tweeting is nothing new. We’ve all seen spam users and posts in our Twitter feed and our following list, but usually the attempts are painfully obvious and easily dismissed. A new venture, Sponsored Tweets, by IZEA founder Ted Murphy (the guy with the tongue, in case you, like me, didn’t recognize the name but know the face) is bringing sponsored tweeting to the mainstream, and he has a pack of celebrities, both traditional and online, to back him up.
The idea is simple: companies pay Twitter users to mention their products in a favorable light. It’s paid content, not uncommon in the blogging world, brought to micro-blogging for the first time in a concerted, organized and coherent way. It even includes an attempt at transparency, via a “disclosure engine,” use of which is required for Sponsored Tweets posts.
For celebrity bloggers like Jessica Gottlieb, it’s a system that pays admirably. For every sponsored tweet she makes, she’s compensated to the tune of around $22, according to a Fast Company article on the new service by Lydia Dishman. Dishman’s own sponsored tweets would only be worth about $3 by comparison. Sponsored Tweets takes into account your number of followers and the frequency of your posting, among other factors, when determining your rate of compensation.
Arguments in favor of and against the scheme have already been popping up all over the place, with people making good points on both sides. Personally, I like to keep social networking and advertising as separate as possible, and have been known to delete Facebook friends after receiving a pitch message. I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about the same sort of thing on Twitter, since a 140-character tweet in my stream is much easier to ignore than a message that triggers an email, but at first blush, it isn’t something that sits well with me. I think the degree to which it becomes popular will end up having a lot to do with how tolerant I am of paid tweeting.
What are your thoughts on Sponsored Tweets? Do you produce paid content as a web worker already, and would you consider moving into this new space? How do you see tweet sponsoring affecting your Twitter usage, if at all?