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No political 'Promoted' tweets and trends this election season

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TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: The social media website Twitter is steering clear of politics. The company waded into the world of paid tweets and corporate advertising just about six months ago. But as the election season really gets going, Twitter's says paid political ads aren't welcome -- 140 characters or not.

Marketplace's Steve Henn reports.


Steve Henn: Politicians love Twitter so much it's almost indecent.

Josh Bernoff: You know, there are two things that tend to be on the leading edge of new communications technology: Porn and politics.

Josh Bernoff is the co-author of the book "Groundswell" and a social media expert at Forrester Research. Bernoff says President Obama has 5.5 million followers; John McCain has 1.7 million. It's not really Ashton Kutcher territory but it's not bad. And for aspiring elected officials, connecting with voters directly on Twitter is a no-brainer.

Scott Galloway: It's the difference between renting and owning a possible voter.

Scott Galloway, a marketing professor at NYU's Stern School, says for politicians...

Galloway: If someone chooses to follow you, you own them -- and that is, you own the relationship and have license to communicate them and send specific messages at almost no incremental cost.

And that beats paying big money to interrupt their TV shows with annoying ads.

Political ad: So listen up, Alabama ad commissioner is one of the most powerful positions in Alabama.

Bernoff laughs

Bernoff: I don't think anyone likes political ads.

And Bernoff says that likely one of the reasons that Twitter is treading carefully. Its executives don't want to overwhelm users with paid political ads that are infuriating. Twitter's ad platform also just isn't ready. The company simply doesn't have the ad space available to accommodate every politician out there -- and it can't end up in a situation where executives are picking and choosing which paid political tweets to promote.

In Silicon Valley, I'm Steve Henn for Marketplace.

About the author

Steve Henn was Marketplace’s technology and innovation reporter for the entire portfolio of Marketplace programs until December 2011.

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