The Twitter Advertising Paradox
In traditional online media, advertising is generally non-intrusive. Banner ads are off to the side of a website somewhere. Even if they’re built into the body of a blog post or article content, the text wraps around them with ease. Even articles or blog posts that are promotional in nature still don’t completely intrude on the reader’s experience, because they should (when used correctly) be relevant to the theme of the website/blog and propose to add value to the reader. You wouldn’t promote ABC eBook if you weren’t going to highlight the benefits and at least briefly tease the content. Twitter advertisements comprise an entirely new beast. Here are my issues with Twitter ads: 1) The user who tweets the ad cannot sufficiently describe the benefits of the advertised product or service. Remember, there’s a 140 character limit. It’s enough space to mention what it is you’re advertising and provide a link to it, but not much more. 2) Making decent money with Twitter ads is paradoxical in nature. What I mean by this is that you’re altering the experience of your Twitter account – the very experience that made you a popular person to follow in the first place. Think about it. You need to be popular and provide somewhat decent tweets for people to follow you and to continue following you (celebrities are probably an exception). If, on Day 1, you constantly spammed your followers, they wouldn’t be around for long. Okay, so you build up your followers because you’re a person who provides value in your tweets. Now that you have enough followers, you want to monetize your tweets. The only way to do this is to advertise, which will thus intrude on your followers’ experience of following you. This is different than putting a banner ad on your blog, because that doesn’t directly impact your content. You need to be popular for it to be worthwhile to tweet advertisements, however you won’t get popular if you advertise often. And when you’re not popular, you need to advertise often to make any sort of money (since the payout will be much smaller). If you advertise often, you won’t become popular. Do you see the problem I’m getting at here?