Will Promoted Content Damage Twitter’s Reputation?

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It’s hard to believe that five years ago there was no Twitter. In a society where we are uber-connected, but task-saturated and inundated with content, the simple 140-character format provides you the ability to make a statement… quickly.

If its beauty is simplicity, its relevance stems from the access it gives us to celebrities, luminaries and thought leaders outside our normal sphere of influence. You can follow the likes of Ashton, Queen Noor, the White House and Bill Gates. It provides a feeling of equality and accessibility to all.

The other key to Twitter’s success, in my opinion, has been its authenticity. It’s why characters like Captain Morgan never took off…and why parody twitter handles need to be defined as such.

Twitter’s unprecedented success lies in its adherence, thus far, to a simple formula – trust + relevance = action. It applies to pretty much every business – and in this case, the millions of people who opened, and use their accounts is the kind of action most brands only dream of.

Recently, Twitter changed its approach to promoted tweets. Getting a promoted tweet from a brand or cause I follow is one thing. Yes, making it stick to the top of my timeline might be a little annoying– but if I’m following you, I’ve pretty much invited your marketing. But inserting unwelcome, promoted tweets from whomever the Twitter algorithm thinks I should hear from seems like crossing the line. It violates the trust Twitter has worked so hard to build– and puts those tweets into the same category as spam. Will people do the equivalent of an inbox “delete all?” Too soon to say.

No doubt many brands will be rushing to get in on the action, and fill Twitter’s coffers to access a new marketing channel that might prove to be effective. But at what price to Twitter’s reputation?

Attend our event in Chicago this Wednesday, Crisis Communications for the Social Age, to learn more about managing your brand’s reputation.

Carreen Winters, MWW Group EVP, brings nearly two decades of corporate communications expertise to her position at MWW Group with special emphasis in corporate and executive positioning, reputation management, crisis communications, restructuring and financial transactions, employee communications and labor relations. Winters was named in NJ Biz’s “40 Under Forty” for her expertise in restructuring communications. She is a frequent speaker and commentator on crisis communications, employee engagement and reputation management. Carreen can be reached at cwinters@mww.com or @carreenwl.

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