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This is important, please read: You can’t pay me to do that

Mitch Joel’s post about social media ethics is so important that I’m reposting the whole thing. Read the original here. I wish more people were standing up against this sort of low-level sleaze.

You Can’t Pay Me To Do That

At what price integrity?

There was book on the future of advertising (or media… or something) that was being offered for free. I clicked the link, read the synopsis and thought to myself,“why not! I’ll download it, find some time and peruse the book.” Then, I clicked on the link to download it and was suddenly told that I have to tweet about the book before being able to download it. The service that this author was using is called, Pay With A Tweet. The tweet made me feel uncomfortable. I’m probably in the minority here. My guess is that the majority of people would be willing to shill to their network with a single tweet if it meant scoring a free book. I mean, after all, it’s just a measly tweet… who cares? What’s the big deal?

The big deal.

I prefer to see, read, acknowledge and think that whatever I put into whatever social media stream is something that I think you will value. It made me feel immensely uncomfortable tweeting about something that could be junk. It made me feel immensely uncomfortable that people think this is good marketing. To me, it all felt kind of dirty and wrong. Why would anyone want me to send a message to my entire social graph about something that I have yet to spend any time with?

It’s a trade-off.

I know what you’re thinking: a tweet for a free book is a fair deal. It may be. I’m not sure. I’d have to read the book first and then decide… and isn’t that the point? Here are the two ways to look at this:

  1. I tweet. I get the book. It’s very transactional. For sending a message to my network (and spreading the word that this book exists), I get the book. Whether I love the book or hate the book, the deal is done. I’ve done what was asked of me.
  2. I get the book. I tweet. It’s very human. Because I got a free book and because it blew mind (let’s face it, if anyone is going to publish a book, let’s make sure it blows our minds), I’ll do anything for the author. What happens next? I’ll tell everyone (and so will you). It won’t just be a tweet, it could be something on LinkedIn and Facebook too. I may write a blog post about it. I may email my close friends and tell them to pick it up. I may want to interview the author for my podcast. I may even want to write it up as one of my regular columns. Who knows? When a consumer derives value – especially from something that was given to them for free – they become the best kind of evangelist.

You can’t pay me to shill to you.

Here’s why I don’t like to tweet for a book (or anything like it, for that matter): I respect the relationship between me and my followers. If I tweet for a book, I get a book and you’re the pawns. I’m using you to get something and you do not benefit from the exchange (that’s not a win-win scenario). It’s the same reason I do not complain about brands or customer service issues that I encounter: I do not want to use my social graph as leverage. That’s not part of our social agreement. It falls outside of the parameters of the social contract that I have both created and do my best to enforce.

It’s just a tweet.

Maybe it’s just a tweet to you. Maybe you think that the majority of your followers are probably not seeing it anyways, so what’s the big deal? Maybe. For me, it just feels like I’m being asked to broadcast something to my group that I have not vetted. I’m being asked to share something regardless of how I feel about it. In a world where everyone of us is a media channel and publishing content in text, images, audio and video in a near real-time and constant flow, I’m doing everything I can to hold my content and the valuable relationship I have with those connected to me to a higher standard. I’m fine if you consider me a snob. I’m fine if you think I’m being overly-dramatic about nothing more than a simple tweet. I believe that the brands that win are the ones who will hold themselves to a higher standard.

What do you believe?

(Mitch’s original post is here.)

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  1. Anand Patel July 10, 2012 at 11:02 am #

    Not sure how I missed this on MItch’s blog but I definitely have to agree. What one tweets and shares on the social web accumulates to become part of their overall personal brand and image…therefore you really need to be behind what you tweet. If an ebook or post really does have great value, and I support it’s thoughts then of course I will feel inclined to go ahead and share this great work with my community. Tweeting before you even take a look at the book is just tweeting blindly.

  2. Andrew Rondeau July 11, 2012 at 3:04 am #


    I THINK I know which book you are referring. I did tweet but it was recommended by an excellent respectable blogger. Therefore, I made the assumption it would be good.


  3. Meredith July 12, 2012 at 5:53 am #

    I get what you are saying, but depends on the situation. If it’s content by a writer I have read in the past and liked I’m not against posting something like “checking out this download by so and so”. You can do that with Pay With a Tweet. I am saying I’m reading it, I do not necessarily have to claim it’s awesome, I can always follow up with another post if it’s really great.

  4. James Carmine July 14, 2012 at 9:19 pm #

    This is a fantastic dilemma! The question is whether your social network has monetary value and whether or not you willing to collect that money. Facebook has recently lost a big case over this Fraley v Facebook. I don’t think it is a matter of integrity at all, I think it is a matter of whether you are willing to monetize your fame for your friends and relatives. All entrepreneurs begin raising money by appealing to “FFF” Family Friends and Fools. I think the real problem is whether or not you are selling your publicity rights too inexpensively.

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