Michael Ian Black’s Sponsored Tweet For Dos Equis Gets Serious Flack From Twitterverse

Stand-up comedian, actor and author Michael Ian Black has amassed almost 2 million Twitter followers since his first tweet pre-2010.

The Twitter early adopter is opinionated about everything from Angie Harmon’s hair to guitar solos – as well as his right to send and get paid for sponsored tweets.

Last week, like many Twitterers with a high volume of followers, Black was commissioned by Dos Equis to send out a “sponsored tweet” from his account:

To his surprise, the reaction was swift and harsh.

Here’s how sponsored tweets are supposed to work: a brand approaches an influential tweeter and asks them to send out a commercial message promoting that brand, in exchange for cash.

In defense of his right to participate in that exchange, Black wrote a blog post back in 2010 titled “In Defense of Twittertising” in which he likens sponsored tweets to TV commercial spots:

“Those of you familiar with my television work are probably aware that I sometimes take work doing commercials. The reason I do this is because I enjoy money. Moreover, I need money to maintain my opulent (middle-class) lifestyle. Selling products for cash allows me the freedom to take less well-playing jobs like making soon-to-be-canceled television shows.

The situation with Twitter is no different. I provide a valuable service (a constant stream of dick jokes) to Twitter for free. As of today, I’ve written 2,655 tweets. That’s a lot of free material, all of it contributing to the entertainment of the 1.5 million people who follow me, as well as the multi-billion dollar capitalization of Twitter itself. When presented with an opportunity to get some return on my investment of time and energy, why not take it?”

Check out the thread of conversation on Black’s sponsored tweet for a taste of the dressing-down he received.

In fact, here’s how he reacted eventually:

Interestingly, in 2011 research scientist Duncan Watts and his team at Yahoo! Research published an interesting study that suggests that money spent by marketers on celebrity sponsored tweets – such as the rumoured $10,000 paid to the likes of Kim Kardashian – might be a bad investment, and turning to “ordinary” (i.e., laymen) influencers is the better tactic.

The Twitterverse is not easily fooled, nor does it take lightly being blatantly advertised to. But Black’s point is a good one – disc jockeys provide radio endorsements between songs, baseball commentators read sponsored messages between plays, and bloggers write sponsored posts.

What’s your opinion about sponsored tweets?

(Image via Shutterstock)