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The Scarlet Dollar Sign: Are Sponsored Posts a Blessing or a Curse?
By: Christine Geraci
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It's been a week or so since Yahoo acquired Tumblr, so naturally, now would be a good time to drop a monetization bomb. 
 
Tumblr has introduced sponsored posts, with brands like Capital One, Denny's, Ford, and AT&T among the first to sign on and take advantage. How will you know if a post is sponsored? You'll see a little dollar sign in the corner of the post. Not as obvious as Facebook's "sponsored post" tag, but quite obvious, nevertheless.
 
Let me preface by saying that no one can blame Tumblr for trying to monetize. Tumblr is a business, and this would have happened in some form, regardless of whether Yahoo bought it or not. 
 
But from a user's perspective, I can't help but wonder if that little dollar sign isn't a scarlet letter of sorts. 
 
On the one hand, it's honest: Labeling a sponsored post as such lets the user know that someone paid for that post to be there, and it's money — not organic interest — placing that post before their eyes. 
 
On the other, it screams "I'M ADVERTISING!" And as we all know by now, advertising is akin to that annoying, fake, desperate wannabe at the party that is social media. You know the one. He's always trying to butt into conversations that have absolutely nothing to do with him. And he's rather obnoxious about it. 
 
I understand to a certain extent why brands go the sponsored route on social networks (it's a great way to gain exposure to new audiences, and let's face it: This is working for them). But at the same time, it annoys me. That little dollar sign, or that little note in the corner that says "sponsored post" — to a user, these are marks of inauthenticity. I know I hide the vast majority of sponsored posts that show up in my Facebook news feed these days, simply for the reason that I did not will them to be there through voluntary engagement. 
 
Seriously: Why would you want to be that guy? If you're huge like Ford, I suppose you don't have to ask yourself that question. But if you're a smaller business looking to truly connect with customers online, it's an extremely valid question.
 
What are your thoughts? Are sponsored posts a blessing or a curse? 


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About the Author
Christine Geraci is the Social Media/Promotions Specialist at MVP Health Care in Schenectady, NY. Connect with her on Twitter @christinegeraci.
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