Do Sponsored Tweets Work? @CharlieSheen Shows Us the Money

Money doesn’t grow on trees, but it does grow on Tweets…

The world knows quite well that #tigerblood flows through the veins of @CharlieSheen. We’re also learning that the color of #TigerBlood is green, as Charlie proves to the world that paid Tweets not only sell, they work.  Ad.ly, the social media talent agency to the stars, is largely recognized for its work in merging celebrity endorsements with Twitter, introducing us to an era of sponsored Tweets from the people we know, love, and take guilty pleasures in following. Ad.ly is also the team behind the media storm that is @charliesheen.

Ad.ly arranged an initial endorsement opportunity for internships.com, helping Charlie Sheen find a #winning intern.

Today Ad.ly and internships.com released some initial stats that officially are impressive and unofficially are nothing short of incredible. I’m working getting approval on releasing additional data, but in the mean time, the team published an interesting infograph that demonstrates just how far #tigerblood spills.

One single tweet published at 4:03 pm Eastern was published to 2.2 million followers.

The Speed: The velocity of the social effect hit 95,333 clicks in the first hour…

The Reach: 181 countries

The Yield: Over 74,000 applications

Other interesting stats…

- 412,000 clicks in 48 hours

- A worldwide trending topic #TigerBloodIntern

Is this a fluke or does sponsored media represent a promising opportunity for brands? Certainly Charlie is in the spotlight and that ads to the value of his channel. To answer this question, I will have to run research and follow up with a formal report. But in the meantime, Ad.ly CEO Arnie Gullov-Singh believes that we’re just getting started, “After 24,000 endorsements over the past 12 months, these results are not surprising. Celebrities are the driving force in social media.  Celebrities are the new prime time.”

Celebrities wield an effective level of influence and combined with the personal touch of new media, brands can literally buy into an enriched form of direct engagement. Aspiration is an important part of the equation and through celebrity and now weblebrity endorsements, brands piggyback on the trust, admiration, and allure of the personality and the relationships they maintain with the audiences. Personality, reputation, and affinity are critically important in new media as these relationships are much more personal.  Complementary alignment with a personal brand is instrumental to the success of any campaign as is the expectations of their audience. Goals and objectives require design into any program at the beginning to identify ideal celebrities and realistic outcomes.

For those celebrities who are considering endorsing products in social channels, consider first your audience and their audience. Charlie Sheen earned tens of thousands of ReTweets and as a result, hundreds of thousands of people were exposed to the message. An ad for an intern using internships.com makes sense. And that’s the point. People are commodities, they are your connection to networks of people like them creating an audience with an audience of audiences.  They are living and breathing communities and they deserve transparency, respect, and empowerment. With that, of course they’ll support sponsored activity as long as it either ads value to the thread or it doesn’t take away from the experience and allure of staying connected to you.

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  • http://twitter.com/seomuscle Julien Berard

    WoW! – Really impressive Now would be great to have a few financial data to back the article. How much was the tweet?

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Indeed. I have some very interesting info that I can’t release…but I will say this, internships.com is extremely happy.

    • Laura

      I’m a customer of theirs, and I was surprised to see this cross promotion to say the least. I am extremely interested to know if any of my students or alumni applied!

    • Laura

      I’m a customer of theirs, and I was surprised to see this cross promotion to say the least. I am extremely interested to know if any of my students or alumni applied!

    • http://twitter.com/seomuscle Julien Berard

      I guess! Charlie is in the spotlight for a moment now, Winning! Was a very good move and kinda “bally” as well, because hes is not in the spotlight for the best possible reason…

  • http://hacksocialmedia.com/ Tony

    I blame Charlie Sheen for invading my daily vernacular with words like “winning” and “tigerblood.”

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      As you should ;)

      Fastball: He’s #winning!

    • http://www.charlierobinson.wordpress.com charlierobinson

      new form of TV? all a PR push #hesnotunwellatall #hoax ??

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      As you should ;)

      Fastball: He’s #winning!

    • http://www.Barloweinteractive.com John Barlowe

      Not “winning”…. “winNING” Completely different meaning.

  • http://twitter.com/EvolveTom Tom Ohle

    Does this prove much more than the fact that if you’re an established brand, social media can be an effective way to push marketing messages?

  • http://www.powershiftermedia.com/blog jaypiddy

    Yes they can work. What worked well here was the creative and media fit. Crazy Charlie is at the top of the media circus, add the fact that he is also the top of the Twitter circus this week. Now add the fact that he has a lot of free time to conquer the world powered on #tigerbloodand may need a little help along the way. Now mix in the fact that a larger percentage of the people would love to meet a star, and I guess a few porn stars, regardless of how crazy they are and boom! You have a great concept for a successful Twitter campaign. I suspect some other ads would not have worked. Oh, I don’t know, say for a nanny service or something family related. This proves it can work when the idea is firing on all cylinders, well maybe not Charlie, but yes it can and will continue to work without a doubt.

    • http://www.powershiftermedia.com/blog jaypiddy

      Add to the fact the US unemployment is at record highs [Charlie can attest to that as well] for being an extremely relevant topic.

  • http://www.hanelly.com hanelly

    The media coverage surrounding this Tweet couldn’t have hurt, either.

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      You’re absolutely right…and if you’re a new media buyer, these conditions should factor into decisions/buys.

    • http://www.hanelly.com hanelly

      I guess the question becomes: when does the return diminish?

  • http://www.ryanborn.net ryanborn

    Awesome post…well done…nothing to add other than you’ve got me thinking,

  • http://twitter.com/Chris_Halasz Christina Halasz

    I wonder how much traffic Sheen got from of my twitter account, and social networking presence, where millions in statistics are being suppressed due to bribes paid out by Melinda Gates?

  • http://spiritnewsdaily.com/ Donovan Moore

    Big deal. THESE PEOPLE DID NOT BUY ANYTHING!! How is that a success? what a joke.

  • Jacobmorgan8

    I’m cranky sitting in an airport so forgive the harshness!

    Where’s the “money” part? Why are we focusing on what a celebrity with 2 million twitter followers is doing with twitter when this isn’t applicable to an actual business? Oy, what happened to good ‘ol business and strategy posts. All of a sudden Charlie Sheen is in the spotlight because he wants an intern? I bet if Angelina Jolie signed up on match.com there would plenty of responses there as well…and the point will be? As far as I’m concerned we’re just talking about PR here.

    I agree with Tom, I don’t think this proves much and actually shows how our lack of focus can be easily taken advantage of.

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      I don’t think you’re looking at the bigger picture. The good ‘ol business and strategy posts are sometimes balanced by the seemingly irrelevant activities that wind up surfacing new methodologies and ideas. Suddenly celebrity endorsements get a new, measurable medium and we scoff at it? I think it’s worthy of review because at the heart and soul of this matter is not Charlie Sheen, it’s the reality that every day people are presented with these opportunities as well and that brings up challenges on every side of the equation. The headline was written as it is because I know the numbers…wish they would let me publish them.

    • http://twitter.com/maroonblazer Nick Ketter

      Your reply is ironic in that it’s *you* who is missing the bigger picture.

      The only reason the tweet got the traction it did (I choose my words carefully; I’m not calling it successful) is that Sheen is in the spotlight at the moment and commands attention from most corners. Nothing new is demonstrated here. To the contrary, it merely affirms of one of the oldest tactics in the business: tie up with someone who’s already got a lot of attention and you’ll get some too. Think Palin in Q3 2008 or Hilton in 2003. You admit as much in your 2nd paragraph:

      “Is this a fluke or does sponsored media represent a promising opportunity for brands? Certainly Charlie is in the spotlight and that ads to the value of his channel. To answer this question, I will have to run research and follow up with a formal report.”

      Let me save you the “research”: the question is inane; of course sponsored media represents a promising opportunity for brands. But we’ve known that since the mid-17th century.

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Nick I see what you’re saying and appreciate it. However, I struggle to see the irony. Of course this media buy was done because he’s in the spotlight. If I was a media planner/buyer and interested in aligning with celebrities, I would compare ad.ly’s roster to wesmirch.com every day to determine creative buys. The question is, can I design performance and measurement into these campaigns so that the work in ways not possible with traditional endorsement. In my studies around paid tweets over the years, whether celeb or webleb, the numbers always verge on unbelievability. When I say research, I want to know to what extent…and have data I can publish.

    • Jacobmorgan8

      As you said the focus is on celebs, but again, that is not applicable to most businesses and people in the world. It might work for the Brad Pitts out there, but that’s about it. If at the heart of this we are talking about every day businesses and people then why aren’t we talking about that instead of focusing on Charlie Sheen? I think even they let you publish the numbers it wouldn’t really be something that can be applied to much.

      Celebs are an anomaly. So the conclusion is, pay a celeb to tweet for you or promote you and you make money or see value? That isn’t new. Agree with Nick’s sentiments above. We’ve seen this for a long long time.

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Jacob, are you reading the post in regards to numbers or are you
      reading the fact that the business of endorsements is undergoing a
      pretty significant transformation? Now everyday people are getting
      paid to endorse products. Everything is measurable. While it’s not for
      every business, this is working for a majority of smb and huge b2c
      brands. Izea, ad.ly, and the like are building ad networks around
      avatars. More to come…

  • http://twitter.com/patrickallmond Patrick Allmond

    Social Media is still getting tied up in mostly self-serving chatter that is not really doing much to educate people who can’t tell difference between signal and noise. We have CS who is off his rocker. Mainstream press and SM talk about it. Then he gets a twitter account. Everybody is talking on twitter about him having a twitter account. He then asks for an intern via a twitter which spawn even more tweets and entire blog posts about it. All of this talk without any evidence that there is a good business or marketing model anyplace in the mix.

    The people I consult with want to see actionable data, not just big twitter numbers from a celebrity. That is easy and the low-hanging fruit. But that does not offer most businesses in social media anything worthwhile to warrant investment.

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  • http://www.Barloweinteractive.com John Barlowe

    Unless it was an ungodly amount, prob worth it considering the pub to internshipcom

  • http://www.idoinspire.com Jody Urquhart

    Everybody wants to be close to celebrities. They want to know where celebrities are shopping, what they buy, who they are with. It seems they don’t even care if the information is true. Twitter is a way to get closer to the “famous guy’ ( who is a schmuck and keeps messing up peoples lives). When anyone famous talk, no matter what the media, people listen. When i send out a tweet i don’t think Charlie Sheen pays attention.

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  • http://twitter.com/Sean_Sweeney Sean Sweeney

    I do think there is a market for sponsored tweets now and in the future. I also feel that the marketing company that piggy-backed the Charlie Sheen drama did it great job with capitalizing on it. Great timing to say the least. The tweet was very well written (from my perspective) as the endorsement wasn’t that obvious. I just chalked it up to Sheens interesting mental state and re-tweeted.

    However, I feel that this type of play won’t have this large an impact for long into future. Users are fairly unaware of sponsored tweets and how to recognize them. I certainly will be looking for things like this next time. People will learn to spot them and not as easily fall for the game. I follow you Brian because I wish to converse and “Engage” with you and others within your/my networks. I syndicate your content because it’s of value to me and I feel it will be to those who are connected to me. The content you share supports me and I wish to return the favour by supporting you. If I felt that my only value to you was to syndicate and line your pockets then I would re-think our relationship. It always needs to be a two way street.

    What is Sheen providing to his followers except front row seats to his questionable behaviours? Sure, it is interesting and I do think some of my followers are interested in the content. I wouldn’t have sent the tweet knowing that I was just being played though.

    I would really like to be privy to the stats associated with this. I’m sure they are incredible. I don’t think that they will give you enough data to answer your question with any form of certainty. It needs to be measured over time as users become more educated.

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ABOUT ME

Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

His most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. In 2009, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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