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05 Oct 2016

Beware of the news tweet in disguise

Posted on October 5, 2016 by

A funny thing happened this week, which has caused a bit of a stir in our office.

We issued a story on behalf of one of our clients to the trade media, and one of the most influential and highly-regarded trade publications responded to our conversations with the following:

For an extra £50, we can tweet the story to our 12,000 followers, at a time of your choice.  

Considering we had sent the story to a journalist as an industry news story, we were puzzled.  Were they offering a promoted tweet or where they suggesting we pay for them to tweet our client’s story, disguised as genuine, organic news?

When we queried the details they indeed confirmed the offer was for a standard tweet, with a link to the story on the magazine’s main Twitter feed. Shock horror!

Any business or commercial user on Twitter – or any social media channel for that matter – should know the guidelines around paid-for content inside out and know to make sure the post is labelled as ‘sponsored’ or ‘advertorial’ in some way.

Twitter rules clearly state: ‘Promoted Tweets are ordinary Tweets purchased by advertisers who want to reach a wider group of users or to spark engagement from their existing followers. Promoted Tweets are clearly labelled as Promoted when an advertiser is paying for their placement on Twitter.’

Having looked closely through the magazine’s Twitter feed we’re shocked to see every post is positioned as news, with no indication that companies have paid to secure their place in the feed. And it made us wonder how many of these news tweets had money behind them. And more worryingly, how many other media outlets are disguising paid-for content on social media?

The guidelines for celebrities endorsing brands have tightened heavily this year, but is it time the rules and regulations were tightened for all?

Journalists have arguably an even greater need than celebrities to be clear on what’s news and what’s promoted content.

Tweets from @AberfieldPR

It wasn't just Harry who went rogue today. Here's our MD looking very suspicious #fortheloveofthejob

4:15 PM — 22 Mar 17

Great day @railwaymuseum with @harrylooknorth & @BBCLookNorth tune in at 6.30pm to find out more! #GoneRogue

4:10 PM — 22 Mar 17

So true @Gillmo the brain of 2017 just has to hold more and multi-task harder! @therealprmoment

2:46 PM — 22 Mar 17

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