There have been past efforts in the early life of Twitter for folks to try an monetize their Twitter stream. After all for many bloggers Twitter is taking up almost as much time in their workflow as writing posts for their blogs. For some it has taken over more of their time and if you are like Robert Scoble it has people wondering how spending so much time there; and FriendFeed, instead of his blog is going to pay off off him. After all his blog is sponsored in part by Seagate but with him spending less time blogging and more time on Twitter one has to wonder – where’s the money.
Well according to some sharp digging by Louis Gray it appears that Robert has started to slide in an Amazon affiliate link for the Kindle. Granted it’s gonna take a lot of people actually clicking through and buying a Kindle for him to see any serious money but it raises and interesting question that goes beyond Robert’s experiment.
What if Twitter becomes the new affiliate marketing arena for less scrupulous people than Robert. As Louis pointed out in his post there was no disclaimer anywhere that this was an affiliate link that Robert had slid in there as a part of his Twitter message and given the 140 character limits on Twitter messages it is a little hard to do. However there are a lot of people out there using Twitter who aren’t of the same trust factor as Robert and given that inserted links on Twitter are usually shorten versions of the actual links how do we know that those links won’t start heading us to marketing pages without our explicit permission.
Affiliate sales are one of the largest money makers on the web but typically users visiting a site or blog will be able to tell that the links are indeed affiliate links; whether it by by disclaimers by the author or other means. Sure there are the unscrupulous ones who do everything they can to hide them but in general most bloggers are up front about this sort of thing.
With Twitter though there is no room for disclaimers or notices about affiliate links regardless of how honourable the person posting might be – or might not be. how are we going to know that the link we just clicked isn’t going to take us to some marketing page that we never wanted to go to. As much as we might want to trust the ethics of Robert in this case I think what he has done is going to end up being the tip of the marketing iceberg on Twitter for some time to come – and not one I’m looking forward to.