Over the next eight weeks, Twitter users will begin to see promoted Tweets show up in their timeline; in a risky move by the social networking giant to increase its advertising revenue.
But with an already failed attempt at pushing ads at its users; this could be a dangerous step for Twitter to make, which could see brands suffer and users go elsewhere.
In the past, Twitter has been unable to generate anywhere near the same amount of advertising revenue that rival network Facebook has; and having reached over 300million users, they’re now keen to get in on the money-making action.
One of the reasons Twitter is so popular is because of its simplicity and accessibility, and because it isn’t plastered with flashing ads; it’s a personal platform where you only see what you want to see.
Back in March, Twitter introduced the ‘Quick Bar’ on the iPhone and iPad, which displayed a revolving list of paid sponsored trends at the top of everyone’s timelines. Angered by Twitter’s attempts to force advertising upon them and disrupt their personal timeline; users were fast and vehement to express this, and the Quick Bar was soon history.
Reflecting the unobtrusive reputation Twitter has obtained; the Quick Bar implementation was a huge failure, yet here we are again with promoted Tweets.
At the moment, promoted Tweets appear in Twitter’s search results when a relevant search term is entered; but these paid-for Tweets will now appear at the top of your timeline, and they’ll stick there even if you scroll down.
Similar to Facebook’s targeted advertising model; the sponsored Tweets will be based on who you follow. So for example, if you follow a clothing brand; other clothes brands could soon appear in your timeline.
If you like what you see, and you want to see other Tweets from this brand, then you can follow them, and the advertising will have worked. But if you find the timeline-invasion annoying and intrusive; not only will you not want to follow the sponsored Tweeter, but you might feel compelled to unfollow all brands.
This in-turn would have the complete opposite effect for the advertisers who have paid for the Tweets, and a knock-on effect for all brands, destroying the free platform that has become highly-lucrative and effective for companies and brands around the world.
Of course, this is a worst-case scenario; but with so many new social networks in the pipeline, one foot wrong by Twitter, and users could easily jump ship.
Only time will tell what effects this move could have on Twitter’s users; but overload them with sponsored Tweets, and Twitter could cause irreparable damage to its user experience.