Today I saw a compelling tweet for a free camera bag contest:
I clicked through, scrolled down, and I realize that my acquaintance Hybernaut was spamming me. Here's how I had to enter the contest:
This is the second time I've seen a Twitter link pyramid scheme in action. I first lost my innocence when my reliable Twitter source of fun quotes suddenly posted a spammy non-quote tweet. We exchanged angry comments, but apparently, out of the account's thousand followers, I was the only one to complain.
These message strike me emotionally, by breaking down the central value premise I find in Twitter. I believe when people post messages, it's their thoughts in words, and not a corporation using them as a mouthpiece. If I'm following AmazonMP3, of course I know a business is posting the content. But when people I've met in real life post a commercial link without context, the metaphor shear is so abrupt and jarring, I know how the recipients of the first email spam must have felt.
Imagine if most or all the people you follow on Twitter frequently entered contests this way. How could you tell when it was really them posting? Does it matter, as long as the content behind the link is interesting? It matters to me, but maybe I'm one in a thousand. What do you think?
Update: Twitter spam links are similar to the recent Burger King offer to get a free Whopper if you drop 10 Facebook friends. It's different in that the 10 people affected weren't sent a spam link disguised as a real person's update. Still, it's another example of marketers experimenting with incentives to change people's behavior on social networks.
Update 2: The equation changes completely for me if a Twitter friend edits the message explain the context before tweeting. I'm not sure it changes if the marketing is for a cause I approve of.