4 November 2011
Twitter changes business of celebrity endorsements
USA Today reported
Rapper Snoop Dogg gave props on Twitter to an ad for the Toyota Sienna minivan. Actress Tori Spelling linked to a website for rental cars. And reality TV star Khloe Kardashian soliloquized about the brand of jeans that accentuates the famous Kardashian derriere.
"Want to know how Old Navy makes your butt look scary good? Ask a Kardashian," the reality TV star wrote, or tweeted, on the social media website. Of course, she capped off the reflection with a smiley face.
These celebs aren't just writing about family cars and fashion choices for the heck of it. Stars can get paid big bucks — sometimes $10,000 or more per post — to pontificate about clothes, cars and movies in the 140 characters or less allowed per tweet. That's adds up to about $71 per character.
Twitter, which in its five-year existence has reshaped how people shop, vote and start revolutions, is now changing the business of celebrity endorsements. Just as Match.com and eHarmony pair up singles for dates, a growing number of startup firms are hooking up companies with stars who get paid to praise products to their thousands — sometimes millions — of Twitter followers.
The list of celebs and the things they hawk is long and getting longer all the time. The endorsements range from subtle to blatant; the celeb pairings from sensible to downright odd.
Singer Ray J urged his 600,000-plus Twitter followers to see the horror movie "Saw 3D." Football star Terrell Owens gave a shout-out in front of his more than 1 million followers to a hotel chain giving away sports tickets: "Comfort Inn is hooking up 3 days of it!" Lamar Odom, L.A. Lakers forward, tweeted to his nearly 2 million followers about hip-hop artist and entrepreneur Jay-Z's book "Decoded": "My man Jay-Z … only rapper to rewrite history without a pen. Until now."
Of course, anything on Twitter is short-lived and reaches only a small, self-selecting audience: Research firm eMarketer estimates that only 11 percent of U.S. adult Internet users are on the micro-blogging site. And even though some celebs have faithful groups of followers, it can be hard to measure whether their tweets lead people to spend.
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