People often think I am tweeting for dollars, because I gush enthusiastically over a brand name or a particular thing on Twitter. If some people are saying that, and asking me directly about it, the likelihood of many other people thinking it but never saying it is high. So I wanted to clear up any misconceptions and also share with you our philosophy at Fresh ID on being paid to tweet (or Facebook, or whatever) and the principles we use with clients, for the curious.
At any given point in time, seeing a tweet like this from me is not rare:
I was reading something online, possibly Girl’s Guide to Paris or some such blog, and I found that post. You’ll note it is to the Nine West tumblr. I am going to Paris, love France, love pink and red together and find that shoe next to the Eiffel Tower DELICIOUS, hence… I shared it. I was not paid by Nine West to promote anything, nor have they ever even contacted me, but if they want to send me a pair of those shoes I wouldn’t turn them down!
That’s just one recent example. I have many. On any given day I may be mentioning my standard brands Apple, Nike or Starbucks, though just this morning I became turned off by Starbucks food entirely, when I read and shared Is Starbucks Any Healthier than McDonald’s? (Short answer, no. Long answer… ewww, faux ingredients everywhere!)
The funny thing about people assuming – and they are making a totally false assumption – about me being paid to tweet is that no one has ever even offered that to me. No one of note, at least, like a major brand. Some people have solicited me in the past to promote them and I declined, as it is not something I intend to ever do.
I told a friend and client the other day, as we discussed my love for Twitter, that I wanted to follow a million people and wanted a million followers. He asked if I would tweet for dollars then, and was a little surprised when I said I never would. The reason I like to follow so many people is for ready sources of information, knowledge and companionship. I gain far more attempting to have more genuine online relationships in a share-and-exchange type of environment than I would if I amassed followers so I could pimp stuff out to them mindlessly, while counting my dollars in the bank.
That said, I realize I DO promote things and people and activities. Some of them a lot. Some of them, despite complaints (I am aware of the soccer murmerings behind my back. It amuses me, because people could just unfollow me.) Some things I routinely promote & why:
Olivier Blanchard, aka @thebrandbuilder – I adore him. He rocks. He has a Big Brain but not a Big Head. (He’s delightfully French!!) He is one of my best friends, which he may not even realize. I tell him (almost) everything. We help him with his sites and digital assets and in doing so often point people to them, to him, and to his various activities. (He keeps saying I could be his agent, but he has not paid me to do so. Perhaps I HAVE missed my calling as an agent… another delightful friend called me a “cheerleader to the stars” recently.)
Gary Vaynerchuk – He inspires and motivates me personally, with his views on business and social media and going for things with nothing but the sweat on your brow and determination. He has never paid me for anything, but I remember the first magical DM I ever got from him! (It said “agreed on pink!” about a tshirt color. I loooove my Garyvee.)
Kidsongs – We helped them get going a little bit on Twitter when doing some work for them, and I tweeted as the beloved blue Billy Biggle character some, to show them how they could interact with folks on Twitter as well as promote their merchandise. I know that a lot of friends have small children, and their stuff is well suited to occupy kids for hours on end, so when I see they are having a promotion of some type I often try to share that on Twitter and Facebook so those people might learn about them, even though they are not products I use myself.
Meers Agency – We helped them build up the agency Twitter handle last year and disclosed our names along with others who were tweeting in the bio of the Twitter profile. It wasn’t a secret that we tweeted right along with them, but then we backed out gradually and now don’t tweet from their account.
Cabot Cares – We helped the Cabot team get setup on various social media platforms when we set up a donor campaign for them online, and started out doing the tweeting and showing them how to engage, then as is our custom, gradually backed out and let them manage the account on their own.
Sporting KC - My beloved soccer team! We don’t tweet from their accounts but yes, I promote them constantly because somehow, as they have become our client and we work more closely with them, I have caught the soccer fever for the team and I am interested in all their activities. I stay home Saturday nights to watch them play on KSMO, bugged Lisa to death to buy season tickets (Section 107, over the tunnel!!), and though we are being paid regularly for web design and software design, we are NOT being paid to tweet – they just can’t stop me. There is a time when your genuine excitement over something surpasses a client relationship if it resonates with you, and that is what has happened with me & SKC.
Kansas City Chiefs – You will see us refer to them more and more as they are a client and we are working on social media ideas for the coming season with them, that involve sponsors and hopefully fun things to do. We are not paid to promote them from OUR accounts, but we will because we are excited about what is going on with these different campaign ideas. We also know that given we have a lot of Chiefs fans who follow us, we want to share things going on with the team when we catch them, just to keep people informed.
I’m sure there are many others but this is representative of client scenarios. At Fresh ID, we have a number of social media-related clients. They hire us to both come up with ideas for campaigns AND to execute them digitally, with sites, apps, landing pages, email marketing designs or live event pages.
In the case of live events, we usually do a lot of promotion from our accounts because we want people to attend the event. We sponsor some events, like LikeMinds, so we have a vested interest in promoting it, as it showcases our Intefy platform. (And they always have awesome events!) We are watching these events and usually pretty excited about it all, so the tweets we send out are a mix of natural enthusiasm and support for our client, but NONE of them are planned, paid tweets. I realize this is probably a gray area a lot of people would debate endlessly, but this is our reality:
- We don’t take cash to tweet
- Tweeting for promotion is not in our contracts
- We are indirectly paid, via client retainers to do other things, to help spread the word… we usually OFFER this or it is unmentioned, rather than being ASKED for it, because we are all active, fluent social media users it is a natural course of business for us
- We sometimes feel something for a particular project or client that causes us as individuals to talk about it more than other things (our true personalities take over, in other words, since we aren’t tweeting automatons)
- We do tweet for clients as part of a Getting Started package that we do, but we do NOT do this long-term as we can’t do it meaningfully enough, not being with their company all day long. Our standard is to get them talking online more than we are, within about 3 months and then we stop tweeting, facebooking, etc. from their accounts.
- We encourage using social platforms as customer service outlets MORE than for marketing, but the reality is some clients or prospects want to add Twitter for marketing only and don’t use it like we do personally for real engagement, which we can’t control
- The exception is live event coverage: sometimes we will tweet from a client account during a live online event because they are too busy to do it, as they are putting on the event
- I can’t speak for other members of our team, but I (Kristi) will personally not take cash to tweet and I would highly frown upon anyone else in our company doing so – it’s a matter of principle as it changes the dynamic of everything you’re doing online
We have lucked out, regarding the clients we’ve had and social promoting we have done. We haven’t had someone with a toilet plunger hire us to do a campaign wherein we felt we should talk about them out of client loyalty and a genuine desire to help them succeed, but it would be beyond odd to do so, given it’s about something obviously not interesting to us.
I don’t love celebrity endorsements for this reason. They seem, about 60% of the time, not to be totally genuine. Does Kim Kardashian actually wear her bottom-plumping Sketchers around?? I’ve never seen them on her in non-promotional pictures, so I don’t think so. She just took some cash to promote them, regardless of any real excitement about them. A lot of people think that is great… and I certainly would like to make a lot more money. But I am not a “celebrity” who sits around all day being famous for tweeting about random merchandise. I have a real job IN the social media, design, software related industries and the things I come across or am introduced to via clients in a given week are the things I am talking about with my social media friends.
The beauty of Twitter is, if you don’t like a person’s style or excessive soccer tweeting, you can opt-out and unfollow them at any time. If you don’t unfollow someone, but are kvetching about them, WHY are you not unfollowing them? Are you hedging a bet you may want them, and their perceived influence to promote you or your interests someday? That could be one reason. Or maybe you like the links they tweet that suit your interests, but you wish they would tamp down their personality? That’s a bit unfair. We all use social media channels for our own personal reasons (if a personal account), not for an audience we are trying to please.
We are all paid to tweet if we hover around the creative services, advertising & social media-focused industries. We all promote something… our bosses, our company, our partners, the games we love to play, the things we eat, drink and do, the places we go, the software we use, our friend’s books and accomplishments, people we admire, conferences we want to attend, etc. Even if you’re not in this business, don’t you promote hobbies, your kids teams at school, your alumni college, or something, if you really examine your updates? Some of us are just more active twitterers – I have pumped out an appalling 64,000+ tweets since I joined in March 26, 2008. So our “noise” is a little more loud than others.
If you have any specific questions regarding Fresh ID, our policies and procedures around using social media for ourselves or clients, or any comments about our practices, please feel free to leave them below or contact us privately by email!
See you on Twitter.