The transparency of tweets

When a celebrity or a popular blogger raves about a product or service, do you consider what kind of relationship they have with the mentioned brand? Many brands now pay tweeters with a high follower count, or offer them freebies in exchange for publicity. But the government’s consumer watchdog is now clamping down on bloggers and Twitter users who don’t declare their relationship with the brand. Transparency is now a requirement, and not just good manners.

Bloggers, and in particular those that review products, are increasingly careful with how they word their blog posts. Many add a disclaimer to each post telling the reader if they’ve purchased the product or if a PR has sent it, to avoid the wrath of the Office of Fair Trading. So it was only a matter of time before micro-blogging sites felt the impact too.

The OFT recently bought a case, the first of its kind, against a PR firm that paid bloggers to write positive pieces on their client’s products. The USA is a little ahead of us, with the US Federal Trade Commission asking all sponsored tweets to contain the words “ad” or “spon.” With some celebrities, like Snoop Dogg and Kim Kardashian, making thousands for each tweet, the move is likely to have a big impact on their income.

What do you think about promotional content? Should it be clearly marked, like all other advertising?

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