I had hoped this day would never come. Today marks the unveiling of a new advertising platform on Twitter. Ten percent of users will find themselves within the beta testing group that will receive “promoted Tweets” in their message stream. The first companies to take advantage of the opportunity include Starbucks, Best Buy and Virgin America.
While I completely understand the need for Twitter to increase its revenue and it may seem attractive for big time consumer companies to promote their products to targeted individuals using one of the fastest growing social media platforms, it seems the investment could do more harm than good.
For Twitter, they risk upsetting its users who have found the non-advertising platform both refreshing and uncluttered. The addition of advertisements could turn off those users who are diligent about maintaining their audience base and message stream to ensure they only receive information from and interact with users of value to them.
For the brands, they risk loosing the authentic connection they’ve built through transparent consumer interaction with accounts manned by actual human beings. Starbucks, for example, has close to 850,000 followers. Those individuals may feel a lesser connection when they begin seeing a mix of both traditional tweets and promoted tweets because advertisements, by their very nature, are one-way messages crafted to convince us to buy something – seemingly the complete opposite of what Twitter is all about.
If you are one of the ten percent selected for the beta test, please let us know how you like/dislike the new interface.