I’ve been participating in a social media advertising program called SponsoredTweets. This is a system where advertisers pay Twitter users a specified amount (generally based on the number of followers you have) to post an advertising message for their product or service. Being that my professional background is in advertising, I was curious to see how the system would work and play out over time. So I decided to give SponsoredTweets a test run.

As my @kristofcreative account currently has a little over 2300 followers, I receive a whopping $5 each time I accept and tweet a message for an advertiser through the SponsoredTweets service.

My guidelines for accepting and tweeting such messages are as follows;

1. The product or service needs to fit in line with the content I already talk about.
2. The product or service needs be something I would actually use myself.

To-date, I’ve accepted and tweeted a total of 6 messages for total earnings of $30 which are earmarked for a local food bank.

Sponsored Tweets Earnings $30

My Sponsored Tweets Earnings $30

Up until today, I thought the service was pretty straightforward and had a clearly defined (and successful) business model; post a message (once) and get paid by the system.

Apparently, SponsoredTweets decided to change their business model from a simple post/pay system into some sort of high-bred Pay-Per-Click (PPC) model called ClickWatch. So it’s no longer a simple post one Twitter message and get paid. It’s now a system that follows a Cost-Per-Click (CPC) model. That’s to say that if the link posted in your message does not receive a certain amount of clicks, it costs the advertiser more. On the flip-side, the more clicks a link receives, the less it costs the advertiser.

This CPC business model for selling advertising isn’t bad in and of itself — it’s the same model Google uses. The problem is that SponsoredTweets isn’t Google. SponsoredTweets is a program in which advertisers pay Twitter user’s to post an advertising message on their behalf. This is no different than a company paying to place an advertisement or link on your website or blog, But SponsoredTweets ClickWatch business model changes that.

With ClickWatch, if a link in a posted message does not receive enough click-through to achieve a $1.50 CPC, SponsoredTweets requires the user to repost the message up to two more times (a total of three times). This does nothing more than boost the benefits to the advertiser (they pay less per posted message) while reducing the income for the person posting the message.

In my specific circumstance, my potential earnings of $5 per tweeted message is reduced to $1.66 per message. But the earnings reduction is, by far, not the biggest problem.

The biggest problem is that the people following you on Twitter aren’t doing so to read advertising messages. So the more advertising messages you post the more likely they are to stop following you (no one like’s to follow a spammy Twitter account).

The outcome is that you can quickly find yourself with a social media channel that’s anti-social. Plus, if you’re even remotely considered using advertising in your Twitter messages as a monetization method you’ll find that the less followers you have is directly proportional to the amount of money you can earn.

Less followers = less money.

From an initial viewpoint I can perhaps understand SponsoredTweets thinking — they’re trying to create a more viable and cost efficient program for advertisers. It doesn’t take a lot of thought to come to the conclusion that the cheaper they can offer advertising the more clients they can bring into their service. That’s all well and good until you consider that in doing so, you’re slowly destroying the only advertising vehicle you have — Twitter users. Because without them, you have nothing.

So my question to SponsoredTweets is, “Why are you integrating an advertising model that is systematically executing the people you need to succeed?” Seriously, what are you thinking?

The simple fact is that every person who has decided to follow me on Twitter has entrusted to me to not fill their stream with spam. And I value that trust — a whole lot more than helping you make more money.

So go ahead shoot yourself in the foot one more time SponsoredTweets by revoking your user’s ClickWatch status for 60-days for choosing not to Retweet a message that the advertiser approved and the Twitter user already tweeted. Because punishing people for bad choices made by the company doing the advertising is always a smart move.

And quite frankly, if your advertiser’s don’t like the CPC results they’re receiving by using your system they should either A) do more research into the people they’re making an offer to or B) Move to a PPC campaign.

I’d like to hear your thoughts about social media advertising. Do you like or hate it? Does it have a place in the Twitterverse? And if you’re using SponsoredTweets, I’d love to hear about your experience.