By Kevin O'Keefe

Betraying trust as a business model

I’ve found out I can become a ‘premium influencer’ on Twitter.

Right now MyLikes, a self described ‘word-of-mouth advertising platform,’ thinks I’m an influencer. Apparently this comes from sharing on Twitter information I believe is helpful to others. No question the more news, commentary and insight of others that I share with people on Twitter, the more people with similar interests who follow me on Twitter.

Until tonight though I never thought of becoming a ‘premium influencer’ by having advertisers pay me for sharing their adds with people who come have to trust me on Twitter. Trust I established by sharing information I thought my Twitter followers would find helpful or interesting.

Excuse me if I don’t understand what social media is all about, but I find the concept outlined in the below email I received from Michelle Matheus, the Marketing Manager for MyLikes, pretty disgusting.


I am writing from MyLikes, an ex-Google social media/twitter advertising company that connects influencers on the web to advertisers. I wanted to send you an invite to be a premium influencer on MyLikes.

This is an invite-only program that allows power Twitter users such as yourself, to make money by creating Sponsored Likes/ads for advertisers you choose and post them to Twitter. You get to set a price per tweet and accept / reject advertiser offers and write your own Sponsored Likes/tweets. The minimum payout is extremely low ($2) and you get paid weekly through PayPal. You can signup at:

Let me know if you need any help in signing up for this program.



Why disgusting Michelle?

  • When I share genuinely valuable information with people who trust me, it’s repulsive to think I’d ‘slide in’ information I wouldn’t share otherwise, but do so because I was being paid by some company who doesn’t care about trust and doesn’t have clue what social media is. If I see helpful information in a blog, the Wall Street Journal, or the NY Times, I’ll share it with people who’ve come to trust me. The blogger, WSJ, or NYT doesn’t need to pay me. If I like a restaurant, I’l share word of it with people who trust me. The restaurant needn’t pay me.
  • You tell me your company is ‘an ex-Google social media/twitter advertising company.’ Are you telling me that Google started or acquired MyLikes and spun it off? Maybe not – when I looked at your website I read MyLike’s founders just “previously worked at Google where they were some of the key people behind Gmail, Google Base, Google Docs, AdSense and Google Video.” But when you’re already playing fast and loose with trust, what’s a little stretching the truth to your advantage.
  • You give me a link to your company’s about page where I can read “We have been covered by the New York Times…” Coverage that’s not all favorable. Robert Scoble, a leading technology blogger and author, told the NY Times Tweeting Ads “…interferes with your relationship with your friends and your audience” and that he “unfollows” people on Twitter who send him ads. But some folks won’t read the ‘coverage’ and what’s a betrayal of trust matter, when the business model of your company is to get people to betray the trust the others.

Companies with a moral compass the likes of MyLikes will always be around to try ruin a good thing like social media. Fortunately, most people are genuinely good and act in ways to earn the trust of others, not betray it.

We’ll never get the likes of MyLikes to see how misguided their business is. The opportunity to make a quick buck at the expense of others is just too great.

But you can decide like me not to sell ads on Twitter. And you can do as Scoble does and un-follow people who betray your trust by tweeting ads. Will it amount to more than a drop in a bucket as far as closing down these clowns and stop people from tweeting ads? Probably not, but we can still do what is right.

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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