What’s the old adage? A tweet is worth…ten thousand dollars? The saying holds true if you’re Kim Kardashian, reality-television star and one of a number of celebrities making thousands of dollars to send out product-endorsing tweets.
PRNewser reported last month that Kardashian receives up to $10,000 per tweet about specific products.
In a post from Jan. 12, Kardashian says, “Have u guys ever tried Popchips? They are kind of amazing!” This may or may not be an ad; it’s sometimes difficult to tell.
This blending of tweets and advertisements is no doubt intentional, but this isn’t a good thing to all followers. In an article from The Daily Beast, Expert Labs’ director of public technology Anil Dash said, “There’s a very high risk of antagonizing your followers, and it’s very, very easy to unfollow.” Naturally, advertisers pay more for larger followings.
Ad.ly is the company responsible for much of the tweets-as-ads trend. Ad.ly brokers a deal between advertisers and Twitter users with large followings (including Kardashian’s sister Khloe, Lauren Conrad and Dr. Drew), allowing these celebrities to post one profitable tweet per day. This one-a-day limit is an effort to reduce backlash from followers.
Listed second (in number of followers) on Ad.ly’s list of publishers, rapper Soulja Boy’s posts are a bit more transparent when it comes to tweets vs. ads: “Who sippin dat sauce” and “I know all my followers is hittin the club tonight. Where the party at” were posted just days after: “Time Warner Cable subscribers can win a free trip for 2 to the 2010 Sundance Film Festival sponsored http://j.mp/3IfpkL.”
Not only are celebrities cashing in on their Twitter followers, but several fake celeb accounts are listed among Ad.ly’s publishers. Contrary to reports, Stephen Colbert is not cashing in with his tweets. The publisher StephenTColbert is linked to Ad.ly, but is not the comedian’s official Twitter account. StephenAtHome—Colbert’s verified account—is not affiliated with Ad.ly and does not make money from tweeting promotions.
How will this brand of marketing affect Twitter in the future? Hard to say, but it stands to reason that the rapidly-growing, clever company will find ways to profit from it.