Is it ethical for social media monitoring providers to use Tweetbots?

Should social media monitoring firms use TweetBots to increase their website’s SEO?

Its happening and it sure seems unethical to me.

Here is how it works:  There are several firms that will re-tweet for a fee.  The firms are used for marketing and to increase a company’s website’s SEO.  One is called PayPerTweet.  Here is a quote from their home page:  “PaidPerTweet lets you hire Twitter users to blast your link, ad or announcement to 100s of thousands of Twitter followers in an instant.”  Another provider is called Retweet.it.  Their website claims, “We have built an amazing community of retweeters that are eager to share one another’s tweets with the world. And with a wider reach of your message, your traffic will greatly improve.”  Retweet.it doesn’t even claim to have people re-tweeting.  They likely use Tweetbots. These are just two providers that represent the industry.

So, does it break the bank to get one of these firms to re-tweet for you.  Nahhh….For $180, Retweet.it will re-tweet your message 1000 times.  Here is their price page.  PaidPerTweet has a little different model.  They run something like a re-tweeter auction.  Anyone can hire people to re-tweet for them.  I saw prices ranging from $.02 to $3.

So, why is this a big deal?  Simple.  Social media monitoring firms pull a lot of data from Twitter.  These re-tweeting sites, and others, use artificial means to knowingly increase the presence of the social media monitoring firms in social media.

Is paying for retweets an ethical practice for a social media research firm who are in the very business of selling social media research as a valid research technique?

Clients need to understand, not only the ethics, but also the implications.  Are the Social Media monitoring firms letting clients know of these sites?

Next week, we will explore how someone with a grudge and a few hundred dollars can really give a brand manager heartburn.

 

 

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