Instead of paying them to Tweet, let’s pay them not to
RIP Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, Justin Timberlake, Usher, Serena Williams, and Elijia Wood. For today at least, they are dead, digitally speaking.
They are amongst a host of celebrities who have signed on to stage their “digital death,” that is, they have temporarily pulled the plug on their Twitter and Facebook lives until their loyal followers stump up $1 million for World AIDS Day.
But this cyber stunt raises an interesting possibility – what if we like this blessed silence? What if we find we don’t crave their incessant inanities and misspelt, mangled English?
Twitter and Facebook have profoundly changed the celebrity/ media dynamic in only a few years. Pre-social media days, we existed solely on a diet on publicist-mediated morsels, dolled out at appropriate moments and with the correct lighting and lashings of Photoshop.
Twitter and Facebook feed on our celebrity fixations, offering fleeting, selectively chosen glances into the world behind the lens.
But the nascence of social media has seemingly blurred media hierarchies. We are offered a thrilling sense of proximity; the feeling that we are directly connected and can speak directly to people we are more used to seeing on the big-screen.
These sites are built on the lure of authenticity – authenticity of voice, authenticity of connection and this breeds a hitherto-unknown trust. It’s a faith marketers would butcher their grandmothers for. Little wonder then that the online celebrity seal of approval is worth big bucks.
The power of celebrity referrals has spawned an entire new online economy in which celebrities are paid to endorse products via their social media feeds.
Serena Williams, Snoop Dogg, Heidi Montag, Kirstie Alley, Paris Hilton, Mandy Moore, Nicole Richie, Kourtney Kardashian, Kendra Wilkinson, Joel Madden, Dita Von Teese, David Spade, Whitney Port, Tom “Draco Malfoy” Felton, Channing Tatum are just a handful of the great and good who trade online endorsements for money to Ad.Ly, a company that pairs celebrities and brands.
These celebrities, along with more than 5,000 other social media somebodies, rake in tens of thousands of dollars, with some earning five figures per Tweet through this one company alone. It’s cash for comment 21st century-style.
Kim Kardashian, the most prominent face of the “Digital Death” campaign, Tweets for cash, for example, posting a message for her good friends at Nestle in return for payment E Online reports. The going rate is said to be $10,000 per Tweet from the reality starlet, not bad for several seconds of clumsy Blackberry typing.
Soleil Moon Frye, AKA Punky Brewster, earns $5,850 per Tweet, impressive given that she has largely disappeared from public view for the better part of the last 20 years.
Even Lindsay Lohan, who has spent more time behind bars or dodging drug tests this year than doing anything like work, makes $2,985 per Tweet Ad Rants reports.
Which brings us back to today’s “Digital Death” campaign.
That certain celebrities have the chutzpah to, not only promote themselves as philanthropists, but to blithely demand their followers pay for them to resume the regular bombardment of inane thoughts and misspelt avuncular declarations is breathtakingly galling.
Given the combined incomes of the Twitter elite deigning to stay silent is well into the hundreds of millions of dollars, surely stumping up a measly $1million is hardly going to put a dent in their back accounts?
A handful of paid Tweets and they should be back in the black in no time.
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