Brian Carter, a guy I admire immensely, raised an interesting question on Twitter today. He asked:
My own answer was, “It’s a moot point. If I like something enough to endorse it, I’d do it anyway for free. I wouldn’t sell my trust away.” Yet even as I said that, I wondered if I was looking at Brian’s question properly. Is an endorsement any different from a recommendation, or sponsorship?
Looking at the answers that Brian received, there was a definite mixed bag:
- “I endorse my friends and products for free.”
- “If I love the product and get a free sample, I would happily tweet for free.”
- “$1 a tweet.”
- “I’d say about fifty cents a tweet, $1 to include a link?”
- “It’s not the matter of the price of my tweet, it’s the price of the endorsement (which isn’t for sale.”
These are just some examples of the mixed reception the question got. (And I’m not saying any of them are right or wrong – these are just some typical examples of the mix). The fact that opinion seems to be evenly split is what makes me question when, or if, paid endorsement breaks the trust barrier?
To me, endorsing something is because you’ve used a product, service or person and you’re completely sold on it. You’re so taken with the results that you’ll wholeheartedly recommend it or them to your friends, family and colleagues. It’s the ultimate compliment – “It’s so good that I’m happy to use it.”
It’s the trust measurement that people who know and respect you will use when making decisions. So would a blind endorsement break that trust?
The fallout can be intensive when someone’s seen to have broken that trust measurement. You only need to look at the recent Izea sponsored posts outcry as an example. Trust is one of our most prized commodities and often it’s what separates us from contemporaries.
But is endorsing something in your Twitter stream for monetary gain any different from advertising on your blog? My own view says there is a difference. Usually you’re not approached by advertisers for a space on your blog (unless it’s a hugely popular one). I’m guessing paid endorsements would see vendors proactively buying your Twitter advertising space more than they might blog space.
Yet with the economy making things hard for people everywhere, should we question people’s rights to make money where they can? After all, we’re sensible enough to make our own decisions on whether a recommendation or endorsement is worth acting on, no?
What’s your take? Is your view for sale?