For those frustrated by negative and unfair stories in mainstream media, the emergence of the Internet and social media has offered some hope. (See my post on why it may make sense to pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel). Of course, the media doesn’t like this, and people who agree with the negative article don’t like it either, as BP found out when in some difficult circumstances (prior to DWH) they bought search terms on Google to direct traffic to their website where viewers could see the truth, or their version of it anyway.
Now Chesapeake Energy is demonstrating a new way of fighting back against negative press: buying tweets. The New York Times did a story on the natural gas industry and the Chesapeake CEO was not pleased. But what do you do? Pick a fight with the big ink buyer? No, go to promoted tweets and buy your way into top searches.
Nieman Lab explains in the above linked post: The company bought Promoted Tweets on search terms like the hashtag #naturalgas and the Times’ primary account @nytimes. Search for either one of those terms and you’ll see the top tweet features a link to CEO Aubrey McClendon’s rebuttal. (The company is rotating multiple tweets in the promoted slot.)
To understand how this works you need to understand the power of the hashtag in Twitter. It is the way to organize the information found in now billions of tweets. To be able to buy your way to the top of the tweets of any hashtag is either sweet or very frustrating, depending on your point of view.
I fully expect there will be many who are angered by Chesapeake’s move to inject itself by paid means into the conversation about natural gas and the NYT story. But others, who are frustrated by the kind of coverage that media often gives stories like this will be glad to see another option emerging for going direct to audiences and blunting the power of even the mighty NYT.