Brian Morrissey, an editor at AdWeek and, since I joined the service, one of my favorite Twittering journalists (not to mention his homonymical last name to mine!), tackled shortcut-taking Twitter contests in a blog post of his own last week, and unsurprisingly he does a better job than yours truly, when I wrote about the ethics of Pay-per-Tweet and Twitter contests.

Morrissey pretty quickly outlines how much these somewhat tacky contests can save over traditional marketing campaigns, as well as the potential hidden costs (using as a case study the Squarespace iPhone “giveaway”):

Is this effective? I'm not sure. No matter what, it's pretty low cost -- the 30 phones will cost it under $10,000 with no media or creative costs to speak of. It's clear that Twitter will need to crack down on this kind of hashtag gaming (hello, #spymaster) for people to become trending topics. This kind of thing, to me, quickly becomes spam.

$10,000 for absurd amounts of reach, even if it’s low-impact reach, is every advertiser’s dream. Having worked at an advertising boutique for a few weeks one winter break, I can tell you those numbers blow billboards, radio, and almost all traditional creative out of the water by such a margin it’s not even funny.

But how do you qualify the loss of brand equity associated with annoying customers with such a blatant attention grab? Already, one of Morrissey’s readers has posted a Mea Culpa for responding to the hash tag scheme.

Follow Brian Morrissey on Twitter. While you’re at it, follow me too; I’m much more letter efficient.

More on social marketing: