Leah Segedie, founder of the inspirational weight-loss online support group and blog Mamavation, woke up to an unwelcome surprise: a promoted tweet from Chobani Yogurt sporting her company’s trademarked name as a hashtag.
Promoted tweets are, according to Twitter, “are ordinary Tweets purchased by advertisers who want to reach a wider group of users or to spark engagement from their existing followers. Promoted Tweets are clearly labeled as Promoted when an advertiser is paying for their placement on Twitter. In every other respect, Promoted Tweets act just like regular Tweets and can be retweeted, replied to, favorited and more.”
But featuring another company’s trademarked name as a hashtag? That doesn’t strike me as a good business practice on Twitter’s part.
As you can imagine, Leah Segedie was not amused.
I turned on my tweet deck this morning and noticed that Chobani had purchased the sponsored tweet in the #mamavation hashtag. I was furious, not because don’t like the brand but because they didn’t come to me first. I have spent YEARS creating and cultivating a community. I work with brands everyday. I consult for brands everyday. Never have I once had this happen to me before…until now. Not only did they purchase the Mamavation hashtag, but also the #fitblog hashtag.
I’ve already mentioned this, but it’s important to note that Chobani did NOT just hijack Leah Segedie’s hashtag (because it’s unlikely that anyone can claim ownership of a simple hashtag featuring common words). They included her corporation’s trademarked name. A critical difference. Leah found it particularly frustrating that they chose this path rather than partnering with her.
Here’s the rub: We want to be respected as bloggers and paid our worth, but here is a brand that is completely circumventing the entire process of working with bloggers. They are cutting us out. Chobani completely ignored the fact that I created the community and I vet the sponsors. AND they stole money out of my pocket. And to make matters worse, they got more attention on Twitter in the past couple days then the paid sponsors that we have: Omron Pedometers & EA SPORTS Active.
Even more worrisome for Leah is the fact that a company with a much less reputable product could also purchase a promoted tweet using her company’s name.
Here’s another issue i have: What is to stop McDonalds from paying for the sponsored tweet in the #Mamavation hashtag to promote their salads? McDonalds is a brand I wouldn’t work with. There are several brands I would never work with that now have the opportunity to put themselves in front of my community because of the Twitter sponsored tweets. My community could actually get hijacked by McDonalds and that scares me. It’s like not being able to control the ads on your blog.
Once this issue came to Chobani’s attention, their communications manager Emily Schildt immediately terminated the promoted tweet and apologized profusely.
I run our digital communications and in my field, I’ve learned that you can’t have an ego. It’s an ever-changing environment in which we’re all still learning. Given that #mamavation is a topic we see so often amongst some of our biggest supporters, I thought it would be a great way to introduce others within the community to our products, and our recipes in the Chobani Kitchen. My thought process solely surrounded the community as a whole and I did not, however, take into consideration that this may offend the creator. For that, I am so sorry.
As Twitter continues to explore avenues to monetize, these issues are likely to come up again and again. Twitter has to monetize in order to survive. But will it do it carefully?