From the 'Payola' days of the music industry in the 1950s to 'Blogola' in the new millennium, getting paid to promote products and services is an age-old tradition in capitalistic societies. Competition spurs on pay-offs whether you are a politician or a Mommy blogger.
If a distribution channel has access to a large number of potential consumers, you can bet someone will come up with a monetary quid-pro-quo proposition. And it was only a matter of time for companies to find ways to monetize the Twitterverse. Here are the top five 'sponsored tweet' programs that have started the ball rolling!
Magpie is a third-party Twitter related service based in Berlin that allows ads to enter the Twitter status stream through one's own posted tweets. Twitter users can earn cash by becoming a Magpie tweeter. This program like the others listed in this TOP FIVE allow users and advertisers to take advantage of Twitter's vast network (last totaling 32 million users according to a May 27 Time Magazine report).
The user and advertiser pairing is done based on the history of relevant keywords in the user’s tweets. For example, a user that always tweets about 'cars' will receive a car-related advertiser to sponsor in their future tweets. Magpie also allows user to customize their tweets with disclaimers to let followers know that the tweet is an advertisement.
As Magpie's tagline states it's easy to "convert your tweets into bling-bling." Users can pick a schedule that ranges from one Magpie-tweet every 200 tweets to one Magpie-tweet for every one tweet. The more Magpie-tweets, the more money you make. However, as in all Twitter messaging, Twitter followers, in general do like repetitive tweets from the same author. So one runs the risk of turning off one's following.
On the brand side, advertisers that are interested in advertising with Magpie are able to bid on key words related to their product. Once the keywords are acquired, the deal will be offered to the Twitter users that have the best matching accounts.The users will then either accept the campaign or wait for something else. (note; Magpie can be found @beamagpie at Twitter or #magpie when searching)
PayMeTweets is in beta testing. Here, you are either buying or selling your influence on Twitter in an exchange type of transaction, where you can sell your own content.
It’s up to Twitter users to decide if they would like to receive money for RTs. This approach will intrigue marketers, Social Media and SEO experts. You are actually buying real people, who will select the content they like and share it with their network, with similar tastes. You don’t have to build your own relevant network, because according to PayMeTweets, the infrastructure is already established. This concept is similar to the social ad program on Facebook.
If you would like to buy some influence, all you have to do is add funds to your account (lowest plan starts with $23) and your balance(s) decrease as you 'retweet.'
When you process a tweet on PayMeTweet, your posting will appear at the top of the @PayMeTweets Twitter page where twitterers following PayMeTweets can find it and If they like it, and don’t think it is spam., then they have the option to retweet it. When they retweet, money will be transferred from your account to theirs according to their influence. The more influence they have the more it costs. The tweet will stay on PayMeTweets so long as your account has money left in it or until you delete it or it is deleted automatically by the system as spamish. If you want lots of influential tweets, be sure to deposit enough funds to your account to cover them. Once your account hits zero all of your listings are deleted from PayMeTweets.
On April 1, 2008, ProBlogger author Darren Rowse suggested in an April Fool’s Day prank that he was organizing a “PayPerTweet” ad network for Twitter subscribers to mention products and services to their legions of followers. He even introduced the notion of basing it on a Cost-Per-Thousand-follower-fee structure.
Rowse's posting was so believable that many readers took it at face value, without realizing its 'piratical joke' intent.
And while tongue-and-cheek, Rouse's business model was obviously looked at closely by the TOP FIVE listed here. But one outfit took it a step further by actually using the "PayPerTweet" name to introduce their service to the world. Perhaps Rouse should have registered or trademarked it before Clevyr out of Oklahoma City seized "PayPerTweet" for the launch of their Twitter advertising enterprise.
By asking the two basic questions:"Do you Tweet?" and "Do you like money?" PayPerTweet hits the sweet spot of many Twitter evangelists who are looking to cash in on their Twitter activity. In its simplest form,PayPerTweet allows you to make money using your Twitter® account by tweeting about products and services that you like.
For advertisers, everyone knows word of mouth is one of the most effective forms of marketing, and PayPerTweet is counting on advertisers to seek them out to get to the right targeted market of Twitter users.
Twittad has a slightly different take on its Twitter monetization program. Instead of selling tweets, its service allows users to monetize their profiles. Similar to how Google ads can be placed on blog sites, Twittad sees value in advertising on one's Twitter profile page.
As real estate, your profile becomes valuable based on the number of users who may check out your profile over the course of time. In so doing, the company is allowing Twitter users to make their page backgrounds available to the highest bidder. Each listing includes the number of followers, the duration, and the price. Advertisers can then purchase the spots, with Twittad collecting a 5% commission on the sale. According to a Mashable report, "So far there aren’t enough transactions completed to estimate the average value of a Twitter follower over a given time period, but... a recent ad spot for an account with 250 followers went for $5 for one month."
An obvious flaws in the system that perhaps Twittad will correct over time is the page backgrounds are not clickable and there is no easy way for a third-party service to track any meaningful metrics other than impressions. Further, when one is interfaced with a third-party app like Twhirl or Tweetdeck, there is less and less space to allow for advertising.
Despite these minor deficiencies in Twittad’s model, AdCamo is another company working off a similar business model providing a platform for both publishers and ad networks.
Izea, the marketing company behind the pay-per-post service that enabled companies to compensate bloggers for every post about their product or service is now bringing a similar proposition to Twitter. Sponsored Tweets pays users for every commercial ad or paid message that is tweeted to their Twitter followers. Launched on August 3, it is the latest entry into the pay-for-play Twitter ad programs.
Ted MurphyIzea’s founder and chief executive Ted Murphy sees a difference between his business model and some of the others. He believes his company’s platform is better controlled by offering a clear disclosure policy. The Sponsored Tweets platform requires Twitters to add a hash tag like #ad, the word sponsored in parentheses or a short disclosure like “brought to you by” before any ad goes out.
Twitter users who sign up to send ads to their network of friends and followers will get paid based on various individual metrics, like a person’s reach on Twitter, the ratio of friends to followers, length of time on Twitter and, of course, the number of followers. On an average, the active Twitter user with 10,000 followers could make $25 to $35 per commercial tweet.
The platform is set up so that the advertiser can decide whether to write the ad copy or let the Twitter user generate it. A sample Kmart ad here is promoting “Blue Light Specials” for Boxer Shorts and Flip Flops
Scott McDaniel, who tweeted this Kmart ad via his BabyGotMac account, said in a comment, “I see Twitter ads in the same light that I see Web site ads — a normal part of Web commerce. The un-follow button and the ability to weed out hash tags in some Twitter client software are akin to ad blockers in browsers."
According to a Mashable report, at launch, IZEA’s already trying to reach premium advertisers with premium Twitterers. They’ve structured their platform to make identity a huge part of the process, with mainstream celebrities like Holly Madison, and Kendra Wilkinson along with web geeks like Sarah Austin (Pop17) and Chris Pirillo ready and willing to be compensated for the appropriate Twitter advertising campaign.
It is pretty impressive what someone with a major fan base can do on Twitter. According to Joan Barnes, the "Armani Jeans promo where Kim Kardashian was paid $25k to send one tweet... drove 40k unique users to their website. She has a following of 1.7M." "Pretty cost effective way to get a lot of reach," noted Barnes.
According to the research firm PQ Media, word-of-mouth marketing increased 14.2 percent to $1.54 billion in 2008. "Tweeting for dollars" programs hopes to capture some of those dollars.
The proliferation of paid sponsorships online has not been without controversy. Some in the social media space deride these transactions as kickbacks. Others also question the legitimacy of bloggers’ opinions, even when the commercial relationships are clearly outlined to readers.
And the Federal Trade Commission is taking a hard look at such practices and may soon require these ad networks to comply with disclosure rules under its truth-in-advertising guidelines.
However, I don't believe 'paid sponsorship' is going to go away any time soon. While Twitter's founders continue to sit in their ivory tower amassing huge sums of venture capital funding, they have allowed the development of monetization to the 'wisdom of crowds.' And as this TOP FIVE list attests, this group is all too eager to take hold of the reigns for their own person gain.
Now let's hear from you. I have listed two polls for you to decide which program is the best for Twitter users, and which one works for Advertisers. Also list in the comments if you have had any hands-on experience with any of these programs and if you profited from your involvement?