Chris Brogan, Danny Brown, and Jason Falls debate affiliate links on Twitter
I was part of an interesting debate that broke on Twitter today. Chris Brogan tweeted out a link for StudioPress but did not disclose in the link that he is an affiliate partner for StudioPress. An Affiliate is a social media marketing technique where if someone clicks on the link Chris provides and then purchases the product, Chris receives a commission on the sale.
Chris was not being sneaky here, quite honestly it probably didn’t occur to him or he just ran out of room in the Tweet. Although most people know Chris is an affiliate for StudioPress, many do not. Danny Brown happened to see the tweet, noted the affiliate link was not disclosed in the tweet and called it to Chris’s attention.
Chris acknowledged the oversight and sent out a disclosure tweet to disclose the affiliate nature of the link, however, Jason Falls from Social Media Explorer jumped into the conversation and took a position opposite to that of Danny saying that if proper disclosure is made in other locations, such as the person’s website, that this was sufficient and it was unreasonable to expect disclosure on Twitter with a 140 character limit.
What ensued next was a lively and thought provoking debate primarily between Danny Brown and Jason Falls with Danny taking the position that affiliate links should be disclosed in every tweet in which they occur and Jason taking the position that formal disclosure on a separate location (website or blog) was sufficient for the reader to find it.
The issue of disclosure is not a new one. Food sold through stores must contain disclosure right on the packaging but if you purchase the food in a fast food restaurant, you have to ask for a manager to dig out the disclosure from the basement – if they can even find it.
So here is the million dollar question:
IF YOU TWEET OUT AN AFFILIATE LINK, DO YOU NEED TO DISCLOSE THE AFFILIATE NATURE IN THE TWEET?
What makes this a unique problem is disclosure is not a real issue in other locations such as blogs and websites. There is plenty of room to disclose affiliate status in those mediums. What makes Twitter so tough is it’s short real estate so it’s hard to provide tweet-by-tweet disclosures. I suggested to the guys that they establish the hashtag #AF or #AL to designate the affiliate status of a link. Thus you could disclose by only using 3 / 140 characters – which seems reasonable to me.
Chris countered that no one would know what the hashtag meant so it would be ineffective. This is true…at first. However, If Chris Brogan, Danny Brown, Jason Falls and many of the other Twitter trend-setters adopted this method, it could catch on and become the standard.
What do you think? Should affiliates disclose in their tweets? Is that over kill? Do you think my #AL idea is stupid?
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