Celebrities on Twitter: There Ought to be a Law

Wayne Rooney ShirtlessWayne Rooney, another UK footballer and Nike have had their wrists slapped by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority over tweets that were devised by the Nike marketing team to promote their #makeitcount campaign. (Check out that stream for interesting comments by Twitter users on this ban.)

“Both footballers have now been banned from repeating the messages in their current form and Nike has been warned about ensuring all Twitter advertising is easily identifiable.” The Telegraph
(Of course we are all going to rush out and see what they said and follow the links. *Cha Ching, Nike!*)

Is this any different than the small (and larger) businesses sending out posts that link to their own websites? Yes, a company’s tweets are obviously promotional as it’s coming from the companies themselves, so what about the posts people send or retweet for clients’ or friends’ businesses — or just other businesses that we don’t necessary like but want to help out, whether it be for commercial or altruistic reasons?

There are a few issues at play here that are often talked about in articles about “Twitter Dos and Don’ts”:

– If you are posting a lot of promotional material, whether it be self promotional or for others, and you can’t back it up with your own great experience or some other good content; then those tweets are going to fall flat. If your posts are mostly promotional tweets people are going to unfollow you.

– Should celebrities use Twitter? Is there any value to following a celebrity on Twitter? If they are posting content that is interesting to you, then there’s a value to you. If their tweets are devised by PR and marketing people and blatantly promoting products, would you be as interested as if you were getting a personal insight into the real person? If Wayne had tweeted “Check out this new promotional video I’ve done for Nike.” even if Nike had asked him to do it, would more people have followed the link and retweeted the post?

In the early days of Twitter there didn’t seem to be any official rules, just the un-official rule “Be Interesting” and it worked.  If someone was just posting self-promotional tweets, it was boring and people unfollowed and the person either wised up and went on to great success or decided that Twitter didn’t work for him.

Has this all changed? Is Twitter now so ‘mainstream’ that the users can no longer police themselves? Just because Twitter is longer only comprised of crass, cynical, ‘know it all’ social media pundits; it doesn’t mean that we are all uneducated, unsavvy consumers just waiting to be duped into buying products we don’t need.

Nike: “…the inclusion of the Nike URL combined with the Nike campaign strap line #makeitcount made it sufficiently clear that those tweets were advertisements.”

ASA: “We considered that the Nike reference was not prominent and could be missed, consumers would not have already been aware of Nike’s “#makeitcount” campaign and that not all Twitter users would be aware of the footballers’ and their teams’ sponsorship deal with Nike.

“We considered there was nothing obvious in the tweets to indicate they were Nike marketing communications. In the absence of such an indication, for example #ad, we considered the tweets were not obviously identifiable as Nike marketing communications and therefore concluded they breached the code.”

The Telegraph

So are we going to start seeing people using #ad in their posts?!  Yeah right, I’m gonna follow that hashtag, NOT! Social media, and especially the wild frontier that is Twitter, scare these sort of regulatory bodies. #ad *face palm*

Where were these agencies when I needed protection from seeing Wayne Rooney’s bare chest in an ad for some sports drink?! There should have been a warning before that ad came on: “Babies, farm animals and middle aged women may be frightened by the content about to be shown in this advertisement.”

Will this just be a blip in the news concerning social media, or are we going to see more state, semi-state bodies, or even the legal system, trying to dictate what we can and cannot do on our social media channels?

In the time that I’ve written this post there have been nearly 100 more tweets using #makeitcount!