Celebrity Tweets Are Big Business

Not that long ago, we talked about how celebrities make money from doing commercial overseas (George Clooney pitching coffee and Harrison Ford selling beer), launching their own perfumes (Mariah Carey and Justin Bieber come to mind) and branding their own wines (Drew Barrymore, Fergie and Francis Ford Coppola are among the most famous vintners). Two words: celebrity tweet.

Now celebrities are making money tweeting. And I’m not just talking money; I’m talking crazy money.

For those of you who are not part of the Twitter craze, let me give you some background. There was a company called Odeo that had been approached by a guy named Jack Dorsey. Dorsey liked the idea of instant messaging that was popular on sites like Yahoo and AOL and thought that one-to-one communication could be expanded to become a web-based real-time service that would allow users to communicate to large groups of people.

From that germ of an idea, Twitter was born and, as of mid-December, it had over 200 million monthly active users. As of this writing, Justin Bieber has the most Twitter followers worldwide (closing in on 40 million), followed closely by Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. In 4th place? The President of the United States.

So it only makes sense that smart companies with tech-savvy marketing people realized that convincing these celebrities (and sometimes quasi-celebrities) to tweet about their product or service would be a great way to increase their market brand or visibility in the public eye. And that convincing comes along with a dollar amount associated with each tweet that the celeb sends out.

Of course, some very entrepreneurial types have established companies that will match up advertisers with Tweeters. A company called IZEA actually lists various celebrities, lets companies know how many followers they have and what their going rate is. They’re also kind enough to include a description of what the celebrity does, just in case you’ve never heard of them (and I haven’t heard of at least half the people on their list). And they list the going rate and – in some cases – they just say the going rate is “call” which I guess means it’s negotiable or just too overwhelming for us to deal with. Number one on the “call” list – Kim Kardashian with over 17 million followers.

People like Khloe Kardashian Odom get $13,000 a tweet. You read that right. $13,000 for a single 140-character tweet. Mike Tyson gets $3,250 per tweet. Apolo Ohno – an eight-time Olympic medalist and the most decorated American Winter Olympic athlete of all time – gets only $260 a tweet. Seriously? Snooki (at $7,600 per tweet) is worth 300 times more than Apolo Ohno? Such is the alternate reality of this type of tweeting. Celebrity is more valuable as a marketing tool than talent or skills.

So here’s how it works. A company like 1-800-Flowers contracts with Justin Bieber’s team and pays him a bunch of money to tweet to his 40 million fans, reminding them that Mother’s Day is coming up and how sending them flowers would be a good way to “love your momma”. If it works the way it should, some of those 40 million Beliebers took their Justin Bieber Prepaid Debit Card and ordered their Moms flowers on Mother’s Day. Whatever they pay him, it was probably worth it to them, and to any company that sees a bump up in their sales as a result of having a celebrity tweet about their product.

Sadly, since I only have 15 followers on Twitter, I don’t think I’m in the demographic that companies are looking for to promote their products.  Although the IZEA site I mentioned before would allow me to register myself in case anyone is looking for someone with 15 followers to promote their product. I think I’ll skip it though.