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'Paid per Tweet' gaining popularity in KSA [Arab News (Saudi Arabia)]
[January 07, 2014]

'Paid per Tweet' gaining popularity in KSA [Arab News (Saudi Arabia)]

(Arab News (Saudi Arabia) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) SAAD AL-DOSSARIHow much time does it take to write a tweet comprising 140 characters? 10 to 30 seconds I would assume; I hope you won't be shocked to know that there are people who get paid for these 30 seconds.

It is an established business model; start ups working on enlisting celebrities with Twitter thousands of followers, and then, negotiating sponsored tweets with advertisers. A win-for-everyone situation; a celebrity getting paid for his or her 30 seconds of attention span, advertisers reaching thousands of people in mere seconds, and middlemen getting paid for closing the deal.

The prices of these sponsored tweets are truly scary, Kim Kardashian, a TV personality who nobody can tell what she really does without a dispute, receives about $20,000 (SR75,000) for writing a single tweet. Mike Tyson, the famous former boxer, gets around $5,200 (SR19,500) for a tweet as well. I assume that such transactions are the highest pay per service ever recorded in human history. For Kim, it is like getting paid $666 per second! Saudi Twitterverse is catching up on the trend. There are Saudi Twitter celebrities who are paid for sponsoring tweets. Still the amount of money they are getting is unannounced.

The return on investment in such kind of advertising is still debatable. The brand exposure, on one hand, is guaranteed. When a celebrity promotes a product, thousands will now about almost immediately. The question of 'will that exposure generate money?' is the debatable part. There are studies confirming that such tweets trigger more online clicks and purchases, there are other studies pointing the other way. I would argue that such marketing technique is the same as the old celebrity endorsement campaigns; there are many factors at play to determine its success.

However, I cannot help but to question the morals of such practices. Unlike most of the advertisement channels, such as TV, billboards, magazines, etc, Twitter feels more personal. Somehow, it is like an intimate exchange between someone and his followers. I could understand the intrigue some fans would have to know what kind of a car their beloved celebrity is driving, and I would understand that this celebrity would casually share with them how relaxed he is driving his elegant, hundreds of thousands worth, sports car, but it definitely feels like cheating when he gets paid to tweet about an economical car he does not even know how does it look like.

The situation becomes uglier when the celebrity does not announce that the tweet is actually sponsored. The Federal Trade Commission in USA recommends that any sponsored tweet should start with (Ad:), as in indication that what follows is a paid tweet meant for advertisement. We do not have such guidelines as far as I know. Some of the Saudi celebrities on Twitter do announce their sponsored tweets, but, unfortunately, most of them do not. I remember a Saudi cartoonist months ago who after some time of not announcing his sponsored tweets, came clean with his followers and apologized to them.

The next time you read a tweet coming from a celebrity hailing a certain product, especially if it is coming out of context, you may stop and wonder, if it is nothing but a paid tweet.

(c) 2014 Arab News All rights reserved. Provided by, an company

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