Celebs paid to tweet
Australian celebrities are being offered as much as $10,000 (NZ$13,000) for a single tweet endorsing products to their thousands of Twitter followers, say sponsorship experts.
But while US celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Lindsay Lohan and Snoop Dogg are reportedly already enjoying large one-off payments to promote brands and products on Twitter, the dash for cash is yet to catch on across the ditch.
The celebrities need only post a one-line product endorsement in exchange for the fee, and according to Britain's Marketing Week, Range Rover approached 40 British celebrities this week to tweet in a similar way about the recently unveiled Evoque 4x4 in the UK.
Bruce Kaider, president of Sponsorship Australasia and founder of a sports management company, confirmed that high profile Australian sportspeople were already being approached to endorse products on Twitter for fees of anything between $500 to $10,000 per tweet.
"Some celebrities have 50 to 100,000 people engaged with what they're doing every day, so it's a great direct marketing piece," he said.
"But I think like most trends here we are usually six to twelve month behind the US and we are probably a little more conservative in Australia than US where people are more open to celebrity endorsements."
US websites like Ad.ly and SponsoredTweets are also helping to shake up traditional sponsorship models by matching advertisers like Sony and Microsoft directly with the celebrities on their registers for one-off transactions.
Lindsay Lohan's profile on SponsoredTweets says she will tweet for a $US2985.80 fee, while Khloe Kardashian (sister of reality star Kim) will tweet for a slightly lesser $US2941. For an extra thousand, advertisers can procure the tweeting services of model Holly Madison.
Boasting a collective reach of 100 million people, the Ad.ly network says it has had Snoop Dogg, Kim Kardashian and Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics) on its payroll, and offers to place celebrity endorsements in any public stream such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and StatusNet.
Krista Thomas, vice president of marketing, said Ad.ly helps brands connect directly with 5000 of the top celebrities, athletes and experts in the US, giving a direct channel to their Twitter followers.
"We have done 10,000 endorsement campaigns in the US and are working with 150 big brand advertisers - including Microsoft, Sony, American Airlines, Toyota, AT&T and more," she said.
Payment is on a per-tweet model, and Thomas said some influencers can earn as much as five figures per tweet based on an algorithm that takes into account followers, activity and engagement.
However Zoe Warne, founder of Melbourne-based digital ad agency August, considers the one-off model a "cheap and nasty" form of sponsorship and warns that it could carry long term risks for celebrities tempted to make a quick buck.
"There will always be that temptation and there will always those that will go through with it, but they are risking their integrity and reputation and Twitter is a very public type of forum," she said.
US rules compel celebrities to add the word "ad" or "spon" to paid-for comments, and Warne said non-disclosure by celebrities tweeting about products for cash, amounted to "the same sort of deal as cash for comments".
Scott McClellan, executive director of the Australian Association of National Advertisers said social media campaigns would fall under the existing advertising code of ethics in Australia.
"We have quite a strong statement in the code around being honest and truthful and obviously not misleading person in any way.
''We believe that abbreviated terms like 'spon' will very rapidly be understood by consumers as being commercial in their nature and people will learn there is a cost associated with accessing the material.''
He said his biggest concerns were related to children, who would be particularly vulnerable to social media marketing from celebrities.
"For children there would be a much greater onus on the advertiser to be clear about the offer they are presenting," he said.
Sydney Morning Herald