Now that I’ve been getting in a groove on Twitter, it has me wondering. Could advertisers swoop in and taint a very grassroots movement? My disclaimer to this post is that I haven’t been using Twitter for very long and I haven’t worked at a big traditional Ad shop, so this perspective may indeed be naïve. However, I’m wondering if what we’ve seen with Advertisers intruding on YouTube and in Second life could happen on Twitter (assuming it’s not already).
Why? If you think about how Twitter is used, it’s always nice to throw in some quick details to add context and tell a better short story. For example, take a look at two ways I could say something on Twitter:
1. Reading a bedtime story to my six year old...
2. Reading “Where the Wild Things Are" to a very sleepy 4-year-old but he’s loving it...
The second blurb provides a little more detail, and naming the book helps paint the scene. Here’s where advertising could potentially come in. A classic model for advertising is to make an arrangement with a celebrity to talk about their stuff—maybe in an Ad or promotion. Or there’s always the option to pay for product placement. So let’s look at a hypothetical situation. Let’s say a popular celeb who is a symbol of the Attention Economy and maybe even has a blog starts Twittering. And let’s say that celeb X makes several agreements with a number of brands to mention their products/services by name in their Twitters. It could be something as seemingly innocent as this.
“Out with friends, sipping on Bacardi and Coke. Gotta go, Justin just pulled up in his hot new S-Class...”
There. Three brands/products all mentioned by name from an influential celeb. Now this little message could be picked up in the following ways: Online, Instant Message, Mobile, and through the use of Widgets. All of a sudden you’ve got a highly influential person talking about your products in context. And it’s getting picked on a variety of highly relevant media channels which cost NOTHING. And think about how interested everyday people would be to know what a celeb is doing “right now”. Think about why all the celeb rags and gossip columns are so popular.
Like I said, I’m coming at this a bit naïve. So if you are a Twitter pro and can cite reasons why this fictional scenerio could or would never happen, I would love to hear it. Or if you are in the Ad industry and can articulate why this would never work, I would like to hear that as well. And there’s nothing to say that a celeb can’t use Twitter. What I’m talking about here are deliberate ways to integrate a product or service where a celeb is given some kind of payment in return.
Personally, I hope it never happens. Twitter’s magic is that it helps us celebrate the “mundane” through the sharing of short stories. I hope this never becomes commercialized.