Shorty Awards Report

twitter_birdSo today, I’m in gmail and notice an ad for the Shorty Report.  I remember participating in the Shorty Awards a few months earlier, so I clicked it to see what it was about.

I was stunned to see that the site was selling a 160 page pdf file for $795.

What was more shocking was the data Twitter users like me, freely provided as content for the report.

At first, I didn’t want to share my public dismay.  As a brand that most likely monitors itself on Twitter, they would be the first to see my comments.

Not wanting to burn bridges I had yet to build, I refrained from naming names.

After exchanging private messages with others who felt the same, I decided to do a poll about it.

I found that people needed more information.  Combine that with the fact that I had a lot more to say and that I want to hear your comments, this story was written.

I have mixed feelings about selling a $795 ebook about Twitter trends.  There are corporations who need the information and will pay for it.  A part of me wishes I had the hutzpuh to do it myself.

And for those corporations who get it, learn from it and use it, the information is probably worth even more than what they paid for it.

After thinking about it for a few hours, what is bothering me is that I feel blindsided.  

Starting today, I will be suspicious of any contests or awards on Twitter.

I’ll always be asking myself, “What is the motive behind this contest?”

I’ll wonder,  “Who is going to benefit, directly or indirectly, from my participation?”

Now that we, as participants, freely gave of our time, attention and resources to nominate our Twitter friends, we find that that our contributions are being sold as “insights from the Shorty Award data” in an ebook.

Think of it this way – when you go to a website to vote for something, you may have to check a little box that says you agree to the terms of service.  These terms may state that your participation may be tracked, sold, analyzed, repurposed – whatever.  If you agree to them, it doesn’t matter what the company does with the data.

In this case, all we had to do was send a tweet.  There wasn’t an agreement, any notices, or terms.  At least that I know of.  There might have been on the website, but how can that be binding when you don’t have to visit the site (or agree) to participate?

Should sponsors qualify contests on Twitter, by letting people know what may happen to their vote and the data they provide by participating?  If so, how could that even be managed?

Will it just remain, Twitterer beware?

I’d love to know your thoughts.  Please let me know, right down below – 

3 responses to “Shorty Awards Report”

  1. Greg

    Ricci,

    Thanks for sharing your concerns. I’m one of the cofounders of the Shorty Awards and coauthor of the Report.

    All of the data from the Shorty Awards is public (since all the Shorty nominations and votes were public). Anyone could do this. By voting on the awards, you knew you were making your vote publicly available.

    However, most of the research report is from the 100s of hours of work we spent after the awards ended. We interviewed dozens of leading brands and professionals about how they use Twitter.

    When we launched the Shorty Awards we never had a research report or large event in mind. We just wanted to launch a fun website to identify the best Twitterers in a number of different categories. After it took off, we found a lot of the corporations we talked to were hungry for information about Twitter, and we decided to publish a research report.

    As for the pricing, you can see we’re not that far off from other b2b research reports (both of these are under 10 pages, unlike ours which is 160 pages):
    http://www.forrester.com/Research/Document/Excerpt/0,7211,53585,00.html
    http://www.gartner.com/DisplayDocument?ref=g_search&id=911714&subref=simplesearch

    Best,

    Greg

  2. Robert

    Well Greg…voting in public and agreeing to have that information used in a for-profit business report are two different things entirely and since my information is being used so you can make money I think I deserve some of that money as do all of the other people who voted for what they thought was an award and turns out was just a money making scheme. I nominated both by tweet and from your website and the first time I was on your website to nominate I told some people that it looked like an identity theft site. While you didn’t steal my identity you did steal my trust and I would never do business with anyone who did that. Sorry Greg, next time you need to be up front about what you are doing.

  3. RicciNeer

    The price quoted in this article was correct at the time of it’s creation. As of today, the report has been reduced to $395.

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