Rainn Wilson and Sponsored Tweets

BlogHer Original Post

Think that celebrity you follow on Twitter really really really loves that brand as they promise? Rainn Wilson provided an amusing set of pretend tweets satirizing the idea of paid celebrity endorsement updates. In a pretend gaffe, he tweeted that he would accept $12,000 for a paid endorsement for Del Taco, and then followed it up with another tweet pretending that the first thoughts were supposed to be a direct message to his assistant.

At least that is what Mashable is reporting now after first gleefully saying that Rainn Wilson was caught online admitting that he takes money for tweets. The going rate, by the way, is $1000 per celebrity tweet. Yet even though Mashable has changed its tune, ABC News is not quite as sure that this isn't just a case of a celebrity caught red-handed with his fist in the proverbial money jar despite the fact that Rainn Wilson is a comic known for his biting observations about daily life.

But at the end of the day, does it really matter?


The reality is that plenty of people accept cash for tweets, though due to FTC regulations, they are supposed to divulge sponsorship or payment within their tweet. As reported by Canadian Business,

For Twitter users that are confused by what’s an ad and what isn’t—like in the Wilson situation—promotional tweets should be somewhat obvious and easy to ignore. Twitter requires its users, under Federal Trade Commission regulations, to label endorsements, which is why many use the hashtag #ad. Just consider these tweets the pop-up windows of the social media age.

Or better yet, you can always “unfollow” any serial endorsers.

It's not just popping up in celebrity Twitter feeds. Plenty of regular Twitter users accept payment or items in exchange for tweets, which takes us back to that aspect of daily life Rainn Wilson was trying to comment on in his satirical tweets.

Even more than blogging, Twitter is a conversation in real time, more akin to speaking to people at a dinner party. We'd never stand around with a cocktail in hand accepting payment from those outside the dinner party to plug their product, yet many people don't think twice about posting sponsored tweets.

There have always been paid celebrity endorsements in advertising, but do sponsored tweets take those types of plugs a bit too far?

Weigh in with your thoughts on celebrities and sponsored tweets.

Credit Image: © Brian Cahn/ZUMAPRESS.com

[Editor’s Note: The BlogHer Publishing Network offers Twitter promotion campaigns to its customers and members. Per FTC guidelines, sponsored tweets are always include disclosure.]

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her novel about blogging is Life from Scratch.

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