Can we consider our conversations sponsored? It’s easy to argue that hot topics have always been spurred in one way or another by advertisers who attempt to bend public groupthink to their advantage, but in the past it’s been done by way of billboards, print advertisements or commercials. Now, a nice slice of our online banter has been bought and paid for. Welcome to 2010.
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Twitter released its year-end list of top trends this week, and in doing so, smacked us right into a corporate backed catch-22. As CNET reported yesterday, a few of this year’s top trends spawned from Twitter’s “promoted” ad program that interested parties to pick a trending topic of their own choosing – for a price.
This year’s list, which includes an overall top 10, as well as more focused lists by category (people, movies, news events, etc.), does contain trends that were paid for. For example, movies Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Despicable Me were both promoted by their respective studios, which makes it tough to discern their actual impact. Was their top spot bought and paid for, or, is their presence just proof that savvy advertising does work? These two are by no means the only two sponsored tweets on the list, either. (I’m looking at you, MTV.)
Interestingly, the issue seems unique to Twitter (for now) as the social platform that is able to directly manipulate the conversations held on site, though it would make sense to see something slightly similar as Facebook continues to tweak its plan for world web dominance. For now, just enjoy the chatter brought to you by today’s white hot “topic” … #HolidayTreats.
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