UPDATED 18:06 EST / MARCH 23 2009

ExecTweets: Is it the Best Form of Twitter Advertising?

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ExecTweets is the new monetization plan for Twitter put forth by a partnership between Twitter and Federated Media today. Remember that little ad widget that popped up on Twitter’s layout last week or so?

imageAccording to MG Siegler over at Venturebeat, that little widget will be used to promote ExecTweets and possibly other similar services aimed at getting some cash out of the popular status microblogging service.

Is this the best route to promoting corporate brands on Twitter?  I’m not convinced. It’ll certainly get a lot of attention due to the fact that it’s being advertised on Twitter itself, but creating an aggregated list of corporate Tweets is pretty par for the course in terms of how Federated Media approaches branded social media campaigns.

Take, for instance, the Cisco campaign they did last year [disclosure: Mashable, my employer at the time, was receiving ad dollars from this campaign]. It was a great attempt, and for an advertisement based social media site, it got a lot of attention. The problem was that it wasn’t that they didn’t support known voices in the social media community – they did.  The problem was that they tried to create an island of conversation away from the rest of the blogosphere.

Rather than move their topics to the blogosphere and the centers of conversation at the time, they tried to lead folks back to their conversation on video and social media, with only limited positive results.

They would have had much better results had they attempted to join existing conversations on those same topics, many of which took place regularly on the sites they advertised on.

Isn’t That What They’re Doing Here? Joining the Conversation?

image To a certain extent, yes. By virtue of the medium, encouraging corporate executives to use Twitter, they are joining a larger conversation, and to that end they’ll see a degree more success in raising brand awareness for what they’re doing than they would by creating an isolated blog and trying to get tech readers to add comments.

The site itself, though, isn’t going to drive much attention or conversation. People don’t seek out product or corporate pitches. The site may serve as a good clearinghouse for bloggers and press to find direct lines to heads of corporations, which is a valuable thing in and of itself, but the really valuable thing is coaching this often aloof class of corporate spokesman on where the valuable conversations are and how to join them.

For instance, take a scan through the list of featured Twitterers there and see how many are using it as a way to promote links to press about their company, and those that are actually using @replies for conversing with other Twitter users.

Keep in mind, I’m not advocating the act of paid blog placements here, but doesn’t it seem a bit counter-intuitive to create destination sites for conversations that benefit an advertiser to materialize when those same companies could simply go to where the conversation is happening already?


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