business should be careful buying social media influence(Editor’s Note: Don’t you wish they figured out a way to buy popularity in high school without your dad inventing Toaster Strudels?)

I love to follow trends on Twitter, like most users. Sure, sometimes you get lost in a sea of tweets categorized under #JustinBieberIsAmazingBecause, but it really is a great way to keep up with what is going on in the world in real time. Lately, I have noticed more and more promoted tweets and trends on Twitter.

Promoted Tweets: Okay

Promoted tweets are a great idea. Paying to have a tweet show up in a targeted demographic’s feed, even if they don’t follow the company, is a pretty clever but honest way to get your message out. The user knows they don’t follow that company, and it states that the tweet is “promoted”, but it does sneak its way in among your favorite brands and opinionated friends.

Promoted Trends: Not So Much

It’s a slippery slope when it comes to promoted trends. Trends are supposed to be organic. Tweeters look to trends to see what’s happening on the internet. I’ve personally learned about many developing national news stories through Twitter’s trends box. Trends are supposed to tell you what’s cool, what’s newsworthy, and what’s popular in that moment. So should brands be allowed to buy their way in to that exclusive crowd-sourced list?

Everyone looks to the popular phrases and hashtags to know what to talk and care about. It’s organic and very follow-the-leader-esque. “If everyone else is talking about this, I probably should be too!”, and a trend is born.

I recently read that a promoted trend costs $200,000. It’s a high price to pay for a seat at the cool kids’ table, but some companies must think it’s worth it.

But how do users feel about this imposterism? It’s one thing to create a promoted tweet that is here and gone, but it’s quite another to pose as a trend to try to make people believe Tweeters actually care about your hashtag. People look to these trends for useful and organic information about the events of the world at that moment, not for brands pretending to be popular. For example, should companies be able to by social media shares to up their score on Mashable’s Velocity Graph and appear more viral online?

Twitter is built on such a simple concept: users share their thoughts. In turn, we’re all alerted to which subjects are popular. It’s the most pure social media site out there, but promoted trends are tainting it’s simplicity and honesty. Outright ads would be better. In my eyes, masquerading as being relevant is a much more shiesty practice than obvious promotion.


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