Ad Buyer Beware: Promoted Tweets Create Forums For Opposition

January 13, 2015 Ben Myers


We know it’s a jungle out there on social media, but some brands invite the animals in with their Twitter ads. Sure, sponsored tweets get your message out to new audiences, but they also create a thread for opponents to coalesce and rebuke your arguments.

The Beer Store and Health Canada are two organizations that recently experienced this phenomenon with their sponsored campaigns.

When it comes to beer, I’m not a disinterested party. When I voiced my opinion about the Ontario beer and liquor monopolies as a reply to the Beer Store’s promoted tweet, like-minded people retweeted my message. I did not use the ‘.@technique’ to project my message to anyone, but many people found it by looking at the replies.

@ONBeerFacts @mybeerstore My vote in the next provincial election goes to the party that promises to end the beer and liquor monopolies.

— Ben Myers (@benkmyers) January 9, 2015

Interestingly, a member of the Libertarian Party of Canada, a strict opponent of the monopolies, was following the conversation reached out to me to solicit my vote in the next election. I don’t think this is what The Beer Store had in mind when they clicked ‘promote’.

@benkmyers @ONBeerFacts @mybeerstore @OntarioCStores Vote for the @LPOntario, they’ve been for ending the monopoly for years!

— David Clement (@ClementLiberty) January 12, 2015

Your followers are largely a friendly audience; they are the people who want to hear your news and updates. When you amplify your message, the other side knows it’s time to chime in too – and they’re none too happy about the fact that you paid to appear in their meticulously curated feed.

The Beer Store’s dubiously titled @ONBeerFacts tweets were part of a large provincial campaign that included ads in large daily newspapers aimed at swaying public opinion in advance of a report on possible changes to Ontario’s liquor monopolies commissioned by the provincial government.

The influx of @ replies from this promoted tweet campaign must have been huge, but no Beer Store representative responded to my reply. Maybe they thought I was a lost cause.

Similarly, Health Canada’s twitter account @HealthyCdns has been pushing health and nutrition messages to many Canadians with a sponsored tweet campaign. But even a reminder to eat your veggies might be an unwelcome reminder for Canadians who think the government has no business pushing its health agenda.

my dad smokes medical marijuana to help him not have another massive heart attack, so no. I’ll skip The Talk, thanks. @HealthyCdns

— *swearing* (@heySMM) November 27, 2014

For others (like me, I guess) responding to sponsored tweets are an easy way to directly rebuke and combat statements that you disagree with. Or in the case of this Spongebob fan, throw your support behind an exciting medical development.

Healthy Canadians Tweet Hell Yeah

For Community Managers and Advertising Directors, the reach and engagement of a sponsored Twitter campaign is what makes it attractive. At the same time, they just need to be aware and ready to respond to the opposition that these campaigns naturally attract.

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