Advertised Price: Free. Real Price: Your Reputation and Influence.
How much will you pay for a service that saves you time in social media? Judging by the $1 to $10 per month price tags for a number of tools, outside of business accounts, it isn’t very much. However, increasingly companies are asking us to pay by promoting their products and services to our connections.
A number of tools and services are available for the cost of social promotion. I can imagine the mindset of those creating these tools:
- Create word of mouth support for our offering.
- Drive traffic and increase our advertising revenue.
- Expand our user base and increase opportunity for a big cash out.
The challenge is, required sharing does not create credible word of mouth. Paper.li and TrueTwit are both illustrations of the problems that arise when companies require promotion to your connections.
When you sign up for Paper.li, Paper.li sends a daily (or weekly) tweet on your behalf, mentioning your connections and creating the obligatory thanks or self-promotional retweet. According to Klout, this increases influence. In fact, it is meaningless. The action people take in response is either an act of courtesy or self-promotion, not a mark of influence.
In addition, if Paper.li is really a valuable “paper”, it would be a meaningful traffic driver. However, despite multiple links to B2B Digital Marketing in various Paper.li editions, I receive more mentions on Twitter from Paper.li than Paper.li-referred visits to this blog. That is not influencing, it is not driving activity, it is simply adding noise.
Required word of mouth promotion has not made me an advocate. My current recommendation regarding Paper.li: Add Paper.li to the filtered sources list in TweetDeck. You will almost never see them again.
TrueTwit’s messaging is not as public as Paper.li’s, but its promotion is more direct. When you click a TrueTwit validation link to confirm you are human, there is a prominent call to action to sign up for TrueTwit, to permanently confirm you are human, and begin DM-spamming your new followers. If you do not agree to start DMing all new followers, then you need to validate manually every time you receive a validation DM.
Yes, TrueTwit sends DM’s to everyone on your behalf that doesn’t agree to do the same to all of their new followers. In my opinion TrueTwit it is a multi-level spam scheme.
I follow people that use TrueTwit, despite their tacit endorsement, I do not recommend TrueTwit. My current recommendation: Don’t validate with TrueTwit. Since the sender isn’t following you, respond in the public stream with something like “I followed you. You called me a Twit and asked me to prove it. Now I’m reconsidering. #SaynotoTrueTwit”. This can be a great conversation starter, and may even persuade some people to cancel TrueTwit.
Your reputation and influence are certainly not free, so don’t freely give them away. Carefully consider before signing up for a product that uses your network for its own promotions: are you willing to endorse this?