Last Updated Jan 6, 2010 10:04 AM EST
Admittedly, on the surface the concept looks compelling. You have what seems to be a trusted source who regularly communicates with large numbers of consumers willing to pass on a commercial message at price ranges of $1 to $3 per thousand audience members. A bargain, eh? Nope.
- Anyone who has used Twitter for longer than a few weeks knows that it's like sitting at the seashore and watching waves. Every few seconds, more stuff hits the screen. It quickly gets to the point that unless there's something compelling -- unless a given wave brings with it something unusual or interesting -- you let them wash into your field of vision on one side and out on the other. That's what tweets are like. Most people don't pay close attention to much of what comes in.
- Anyone who admits to taking money to tweet a message on someone else's behalf has zero credibility. So much for being a trusted source. The Twitter successes like Dell (DELL) are delivering their own messages that people have signed up to hear. It's a completely different case.
- If you're providing a link in a tweet, the common clickthrough rate is in the 1 to 4 percent range. Suddenly, only 28,000 of that 2.8 million actually see the message, and not just a mention of the message with virtually no details. Instead of paying maybe $8 per thousand viewers for a display ad on a web page, you're effectively paying $25 to $300 per unqualified thousand. Ouch.
- The numbers in that last point are actually highly inflated because it's not as if all 2.8 million actually see your tweet. Only a fraction will, because people sign off and on at different times, do other things, and the message scrolls onto and off of the screen, just like that wave on the beach. Only, when the wave comes through, they're off getting hot dogs. If you're even getting a quarter of the audience for a given tweet, and I think that's optimistic, suddenly your cost per thousand is $100 to $1200. Double ouch.
- Paid tweets have become a form of spam on Twitter and indulging can get you all manners of bad publicity.
Image courtesy Twitter.