Here’s a little secret about Twitter that you may not know: some people are getting paid to tweet. We don’t mean it’s their job to Twitter as the PR front-end for some large corporation, either. They’re actually getting paid to post advertisements to their Twitter stream. When their followers click though, the end result is cold, hard cash.
The Twitter ad industry, an experimental playground where new ideas about making money on the Internet flourish, is made up of a handful of companies who work with advertisers to run in-stream Twitter campaigns. Surprisingly, it’s not as unseemly as it sounds. For the most part, tweets are disclosed, backlash is minimal and the so-called “publishers” – the Twitterers, that is – are making a decent bit of pocket change. Just don’t count on banking 10K per tweet like Kim Kardashian allegedly did.
This is part one of a two-part series. Stay tuned for part 2 later today. Part 2 is here.
Diluting the Stream?
Twitter ads are 140-character missives posted to Twitter that link to an advertiser’s product or service. Some companies allow their users to craft the ad’s text itself while others insist on the advertiser’s own wording. But the end result is the same: someone clicks the ad, the Twitterer gets paid.
When first introduced, the concept of in-stream ads was met with backlash and disgust from many in the Twitter community. Advertisers were charged with “diluting the stream” with these irrelevant, unneeded posts. But these days, the backlash seems to be nearly forgotten. Anyone who was offended by someone tweeting ads simply unfollowed them and went on with their life. In fact, that’s the beauty of the Twitter system – if you don’t like what someone says, they’re gone with a click of a button. And when it comes to ads, the reality is that enough people don’t mind (or perhaps don’t even notice) to make the occasional promotional tweet worthwhile for publishers using these systems.
Beyond Kim K: Real Users are Making Money
There a good handful of companies where a Twitter user can sign up to start advertising to their friends and followers including Twittad, Magpie, Sponsored Tweets, and Ad.ly to name a few. Since the influx of celebrities to Twitter, these companies have become more prominent – Ad.ly and Sponsored Tweets even list some of their celeb publishers right on their homepage. Those lists include everyone from reality stars like Audrina Patridge to artists like Soulja Boy. Take a quick dive through their publisher lists, and it almost seems as if there isn’t a single celeb who hasn’t signed up somewhere to monetize their fanbase.
But a celebrity and their 1.5 million followers isn’t the average user of these services. Instead, the average user is relatively popular within a niche crowd. For example, Magpie reports their average user has follower counts in the three or four digits. Sponsored Tweets says their average user is right around 2500 followers. Obviously, these folks have more than a handful of close friends watching their streams, but they don’t come anywhere near celebrity status.
Yes, but How Much Money do People Make?
But the real question everyone wants to know is what do people make? Real people? The answer to this question isn’t as simple as quoting an industry average figure. Reports of the $10,000 tweet from Kim Kardashian have people salivating, yet this is far from reality. (Side note: Ad.ly, the company behind that tweet, doesn’t actually disclose what their users make per tweet. Sean Rad, Ad.ly’s CEO, will only say that publishers “can make as much as five figures.” Sponsored Tweets, meanwhile, boasts of a $20,000 payout.) However, outside of Hollywood starlets, musicians and other famous figures, tweeting for cash isn’t some get-rich-quick scheme.
Sponsored Tweets says their average payout is $10 per tweet and a user usually gets just a couple of offers per month. Magpie says their users can earn three-figure amounts per month, most in the $100-$300 range. Twittad says their average payout is $15-25 per week. None of these payout amounts are enough money to quit your day job over, but they can easily add up to tidy second income for their users.
And if you grow your Twitter following, you can earn even more. John Chow isn’t exactly a Hollywood celeb, but he does tout a follower count of over 50,000. While nowhere near Kim K. numbers, it was enough for his first tweet to earn him $1000 when he signed up with Ad.ly. But simply boosting your follower count isn’t enough to be the next John Chow or Jeremy Shoemaker who claims he earned 14K in a month – it all depends on who follows you back and how engaged they are. Without active followers clicking through on your ads, you’ll be lucky to earn a dollar.
Stay tuned for Part 2 coming later todayPart 2 is here.