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Open Letter to Twitter: Promote Your Engagement, Really?

December 17 2010

neon girl behind barsDear Twitter,

I was reading your new advertising plan on promoted tweets, trends and accountsnew advertising plan on promoted tweets, trends and accounts, interesting read in general, but a little confusing!

So let me start with the big question, what are you thinking???

The whole Twitter community is REALLY about engagement, interaction, and brands come to the space to humanize their corporate machines. What does that tell you about this space you have created (yes I worship at the shrine of Twitter I will admit), we have adopted it. Just like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree or Tinkerbell, we believe and you have thrived. We clapped, we cheered, and we poo-poo’d the naysayers. So I ask you – ADVERTISING is one thing, promoted products are completely another.


Have you played with Go there, search “spam” and tell me – what do you see? Lots of people complaining about people who are only selling things and not engaging. Now let’s look at the example Google has set. When you search Google the promoted links at the top, do they get clicked? Not so often. The people have spoken -they prefer organic results. Let’s try to deduce something from that bit of information… If people are avoiding what they know is paid for, without a little yellow PROMOTED tag and just a slight gray shading to differentiate, how do you think your promoted tweets/trends/accounts will go over?

You might be underestimating the socioeconomic demographic you have here. Very likely you have lots of tech types, DINKs (Dual Income No Kids), and generally white-collar college educated types, pressure sales don’t work, so you think confessing with a neon flashing light that something is promoted will make us more likely to click it? I don’t think so.

If I may, you have a number of really popular folks who use Twitter, some of those folks have written awesome books and blogs about things like marketing, engagement, content and interaction (try following @garyvee@garyvee, @cc_chapman@cc_chapman, @julien@julien, @mitchjoel@mitchjoel, @chrisbrogan@chrisbrogan, @starbucker@starbucker,@lizstrauss@lizstrauss amongst others). Perhaps you would be better served to take a model similar to Facebook. The problem with that is you do not collect enough demographic information about your users to be able to serve and target as beautifully, and artfully, as Facebook can (I am not the biggest Facebook fan, so you are safe – Twitter you are my sweetheart).

How do you gain revenue? I heard a rumor, a few times over the last year or so, that you might consider different user service levels with different tweet limits. HELLO??? It is RIGHT there. That is the “crack” you need to sell. Just like all the free apps for the various touch screen phones that then require purchase of “supplies” “tokens” “smurf stuff” you can offer those who frequently hit Twitter jail the option of not getting that “fate worse than a bamboo shoot under the finger nail”. Even if you only charged $5 a month, think of how many people would elect to purchase extra tweet-width.

So my darling dearest Twitter, what are you thinking? Or what are you smoking? Let’s get serious, it isn’t even April 1 and you are trying to play an April Fools joke? Hahah. It isn’t funny.

Back to the drawing board, and you might find the big money. I believe in you. Now go back and review that “tweet crack” idea, I think that might REALLY be the thing that works, account levels, that PRO account joke has been around for years, sometimes the answer is staring you right in the face.

Oh and what’s your mailing address, I am going to send you a copy of UnMarketing, I think you might want to read it… and do you follow @unmarketing@unmarketing?

Best regards,