If you're a lazy marketer with lots of money on your hands, you're in luck.

Last week the Southern California-based startup  Ad.ly  launched the first in-stream advertising platform for  Twitter . That means that you can now setup an account on Ad.ly.com, find a few Twitterers whose streams you'd like your marketing message Tweeted from, then make them an offer. If they accept it, your tweet will be published in their stream once a day for a week.

I'm generally  not a fan of advertising , but I can think of a least four great reasons to use Ad.ly:

(1) You're Lazy -- There's no question you're  better off building your own Twitter account and sharing information from that account , but building a Twitter account is hard. You have to share valuable content. You have to respond to people who ask questions. You have to be patient.

If you're not up for all that work, if you want quick access to lots of Twitter followers, Ad.ly is for you. You can just shell out money and get your tweets in front of millions of people.

(2) You're Not Creative --   Content is hard . You have to be a producer, not a consumer, and that requires thinking. You have to think about the problems your customers are trying to solve, what would be useful to them, and what they would pass around to their friends via Twitter and email. You have to come up with great ways to explain your product and make it compelling. If you can't do that, now you can use Ad.ly.

(3) You Have Too Much Money -- Maybe money isn't a concern for your business. You realize you can  reach customers more efficiently by creating your own content (by doing inbound marketing) , but you don't care. You can always get a bigger marketing budget when you need it.

(4) Your Product Is Lousy -- If your product isn't actually a good product, tweeting from your own account -- and getting others to Tweet for you organically -- probably won't work. Nobody wants to endorse or be associated with something that doesn't work, so nobody will want to share the links you tweet. The only way you're going to get them to retweet your stuff is if you use a service like Ad.ly that allows you to pay for tweets.

Could there be situations in which it made sense for smart, hard-working, creative marketers to use Ad.ly?

Sure. If an Ad.ly publisher has a large audience that you're trying to target, or if Ad.ly is able to stitch together a lot of smaller audiences that you're trying to target, it could be a good way to distribute content related to your business for a short period of time.

The problem comes when marketers begin depend on services like Ad.ly. The more traffic you want, the more you have to pay. It becomes a drug addiction -- one that will eventually kill your company. 

To avoid such an addiction -- to build a business that creates lasting value and sustains itself -- you need to produce your own content. You need to get retweeted by people because they love your content and they love your product. There is no shortcut.

What do you think? Is advertising via Twitter something marketers should avoid, or are there other circumstances in which it's useful to marketers.

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Originally published Oct 26, 2009 7:38:00 AM, updated October 20 2016

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Social Media