If You Have To Tweet About Me Before I Give You Content, Will You Still Respect Me In The Morning?

from the not-realy-a-strong-endorsement dept

A couple months back, we discussed the growing trend of some content creators to require some sort of promotion in exchange for "free" content -- such as "tweet about our album and you can download a song." Apparently, such practices are becoming more common place, with a whole company being built around the concept. However, just like I wrote when we first discussed this, these sorts of requirements seem like fake word of mouth marketing, unlikely to drive any sort of sustained interest. That's because you're requiring people to promote you just to get your content, rather than giving them the content and having it be awesome enough that they actually want to tell their friends about it. It basically gets the equation backwards, and in the process, seems to suggest that the content in question really isn't that good. After all, if you have to force people to promote you before you'll give them content for free, it sounds like you don't think they'd want to promote you after they got it. I can see why people would jump on this kind of bandwagon, but I think that those who do should consider the possible negative signals it gives off.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2010 @ 5:15pm


    I promote Nina Paley every chance I get why?
    Because I love those little funny cartoons of hers.

    I promote a lot of other stuff because I like those and nobody pays me to do it.

    Now would I agree to promote some dude to get something from him? only if he also gives me health plan, dental and a salary and I don't think I would do a good job even then, because I don't really believe in it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    The Anti-Mike PR Comment Development Company, Ltd., Sep 1st, 2010 @ 5:19pm

    Isn't it considered good luck if a bird drops poop on you?

    You're still wrong, Mike. And, you're also hypocritical. It seems this would be necessary for a "The Grand Unified Theory On The Economics Of Free" That is, assuming such a theory existed.

    You just don't want to admit that this company is on the cusp of great, positively charged PR.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    cc (profile), Sep 1st, 2010 @ 5:24pm

    "suggest that the content in question really isn't that good"

    I think that's the crux of the matter. The label/studio/publisher system is entirely based on getting a bunch of artists who are "good enough" and promoting the hell out of them by any means possible, including artificial "word of mouth" hyping.

    The problem with that, apart from the obvious fact that a lot of people are fooled and end up consuming content that isn't very good, is that the natural word of mouth is buried under the labels' fake marketing. This leads good music to be overlooked, because it doesn't manage to spread very far.

    P2P/internet content discovery is starting to override this system, letting people make up their own minds, which is brilliant. The publishers aren't very happy with that, of course, because the guarantees of return on their marketing investments are being eroded.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Rob (profile), Sep 1st, 2010 @ 5:36pm

    I saw something similar to this earlier today, when I followed a link to watch Cee-lo's new video for his "Fuck You" song. It wasn't on his YouTube channel (where he scored a massive viral hit with the previous minimal video), but instead on his Facebook, where you had to "Like" him before you could watch the video. I'm not much of a Facebook user, and hell, I hadn't even seen the video yet, so I didn't want to do it. Naturally, someone had already uploaded the video elsewhere (TwitVid), so I watched it there instead. I'd much rather feel compelled to like or tweet someone because I'm impressed with their content, rather than being forced to promote them just so I can see their content. In the case of the Cee-lo Facebook thing, it was probably very effective in gaining him a lot of Likes, as most people don't think much about liking something. But as someone who curates my social feeds somewhat carefully, I found it to be at turnoff.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    angal2, Sep 1st, 2010 @ 5:48pm

    Re: Cee-lo

    I experienced the same thing today. I followed a link from twitter to the Facebook page. However, as much as I'd like to see the video, I don't use/am virulently opposed to Facebook and refuse to sign up to "like" the page just to see a video.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    abc gum, Sep 1st, 2010 @ 6:24pm

    Re: Isn't it considered good luck if a bird drops poop on you?

    You forgot the /s

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Pixelation, Sep 1st, 2010 @ 6:41pm


    I think we should apply this idea to dating.

    "Promote me to all of your girlfriends and I'll give you some for free"...

    On a serious note, isn't most marketing the same thing when you get right down to it? "Hey, this is the best thing ever. Buy it. Oh my God, everyone needs this!" The difference here is this type of marketing is free, which is great if it works.
    Hopefully Techdirt will have a follow-up article to see how this one pans out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Andrew, Sep 1st, 2010 @ 7:05pm

    Going to live in the woods...

    Thank you for reporting on this. I've been getting requests based around this practice a lot lately.

    I've always felt somewhat uneasy with this type of faux evangelicalism, and explaining to my clients why this isn't the most transparent method of spreading the word has been difficult to articulate.

    This is why people view the social web differently than reading mainstream publications. I want to be able to trust that my peers are only promoting content that they support sharing, not receive incentive to do so. Blurring the lines between legitimacy and advertising is what this is, and we don't need any more of that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Yeebok (profile), Sep 2nd, 2010 @ 4:59am

    I despise the idea

    I've seen a few 'tweet about x to get y' promotions and to be quite blunt it puts me off whatever product is being promoted. Generally you can get it at a different (personally, lower) cost elsewhere anyway.
    I don't have a large number of followers and I'm not going to lose half of them because I'm seen as a spammer. If I like something, I'll tell people about it.
    The whole idea sits badly with me too, Mike.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2010 @ 8:01am

    Re: Dating

    Yeah, but most marketing gives you the product first and *allows* you to recommend it *after* you consume it. In the normal case, you need a good product before you can expect people to market it for you.

    That's kinda the point here; this flips that and *requires* you recommend if *before* you can consume it. In this case, you can hock any product you want and get people to market it for you, albeit not very efficiently (ie, seeing a bunch of canned tweets about something isn't very convincing of its quality).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2010 @ 8:12am

    Promoting before consuming, eh? Sounds sketchy. I know I wouldn't want to piss off all my friends and followers by tweeting some garbage marketing like that.

    However, I wonder if there would be a market for asking people to bash your competition before they give you a product. I feel like people would probably be more willing to do that. It would just as ridiculous, of course, be kinda of interesting to see happen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    hiero, Sep 2nd, 2010 @ 9:23am

    grey area at best

    i think this practise is a lot more complex than is put forth in the article. for example - i love a band - they put out a pre-release track off their up coming album. i want to download it, they ask they i tweet that i downloaded it. they dont ask me to give it a raving review, just tweet the fact that i just downloaded it.

    now the cases mentioned in the comments and what it alluded to in the article, sounds like a much more contrived situation. tweeting to get a coupon at burger king doesnt seem right - tweeting that you just ate burger king seems ok to me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2010 @ 9:52am

    How does this practice not violate the new law concerning Internet promotion? You are being paid (receiving the product) to promote it, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    TJGeezer (profile), Sep 2nd, 2010 @ 3:33pm

    Re: grey area at best

    they dont ask me to give it a raving review, just tweet the fact that i just downloaded it.
    Thanks. I knew something about this discussion bothered me, and you put your finger on it. Where a request for a positive review before listening to a song would be dishonest, simply saying you decided to give it a listen would not be. And I don't think asking for such a tweet would be blurring any lines. "Tweet that you're going to listen to it, and if you like it, please tweet again that you liked what you heard." That's not dishonest either. It's all in how you do it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2010 @ 3:54pm


    theres a law for that?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2010 @ 8:50pm

    Just because they don't ask you for a good review doesn't mean you are not promoting it. If its not promotion, then why would the band care if you tweeted it or not?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Laroquod, Sep 3rd, 2010 @ 10:32am

    Crass behaviour is crass behaviour, regardless of the source

    Had a friend once who insisted I tweet in support of his job search -- even wanted to dictate how my tweet would read, word for word. Didn't even occur to him at all that attempting to maintain honesty in the things I say to the world might be important to me. This and other similar backscratching requirements resulted in deterioration and eventual ending of the friendship.

    People don't really tolerate this from their friends. Why would they just swallow it from some corporation? No way. Just another slanted bargain with lipstick on it, this initiative is as doomed as a 'friendship' that is based on pure self-interest.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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