Twitter has turned into quite the phenomenon. It’s easy to get started, if somewhat challenging sometimes to think of things to say. It’s used by people from all walks of life.
Then there are the people who advertise on their Twitter streams. There are several services that place ads in your Twitter stream or allow you to do so. But there’s a lot of controversy about placing ads in your Twitter stream. It even made the New York Times (may require log in or search Google News).
I have to admit, the earnings they quote for people with big follower lists are pretty impressive. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have misgivings about Twitter stream advertising.
On the one hand, tweeting for me is about building my business. If advertising brings in money and isn’t excessive, is it really a problem? I advertise here, after all. Properly disclosed, such as with the #ad hashtag, it’s not that objectionable.
Robert Scoble has some good points about the problems with advertising in your Twitter stream. Just on a personal level of not wanting to offend too many followers, Twitter advertising has issues. Disclosure helps, but is it enough? Value to advertisers, as Scoble points out, is another issue.
One important consideration if you do want to advertise in your Twitter stream is whether or not you tweet enough other things. Even if you only post an ad once a day is that made up for by what you say the rest of the time? In quality and in quantity?
And then there’s the simple fact that if you want to advertise it’s your business, so long as you disclose properly. You may be gambling on your followers, but that’s a choice you can make.
There are options to being paid by an ad network, of course. You can write your own ads for products you like. I would expect a relevant product could generate a sale or so. You have to think about why it is people are subscribe to your stream to have a chance of such ads paying off, and disclosure is still an issue.
Always, always, always, be sure that you’re providing value to your Twitter stream. If you’re not providing something people want, whether you advertise or not, people aren’t going to pay attention to your tweets.
Edited to add: Just came across this post from Andy Beal in my Twitter stream: Poll: Will You UnFollow Those That Place Ads in Their Tweets? – so far 44% say yes!