Washed up “celebrities” with Instagram, Twitter or Facebook accounts, lots of followers and a couple of hashtags can make big bucks doing absolutely nothing! Paying top dollar to have Katy Perry push Proactiv during a TV commercial is out and the new wave of advertising appears to be social media product placement. I came across an article on Gawker whose author posted pictures featuring several different products to her social media accounts and sending the company an invoice afterwards based on her number of followers. It was meant to be taken in jest as her 388 followers amounted to invoices of $3.88 but I feel as though she was trying to bring attention to its absurdity. Then again, the more I read about the increasing popularity of it all the more it became apparent how much money might be thrown at former reality TV stars for years to come.
I will try and look at this objectively and not go off on a rant about why a single person in the entire world would care what whitening product Scott Disick uses or why you are even following him in the first place but he’s making thousands of dollars per post and I’m blogging about it. After reading the initial article, I clicked on a bunch of links embedded throughout and was able to see the amount of money these celebrities command per post on their various feeds. It was not a comprehensive list and many of the more famous celebrities with actual talent weren’t included but it ran the gamut of former reality television stars to siblings of celebrities, people I didn’t even recognize and last but certainly not least – JWoww & Snooki.
Again, why these people are relevant doesn’t make sense to me but there are MILLIONS of people who hold them in some regard and might go buy a product because they lied about their usage of it on social media. The amount of time, money and energy this new way of advertising saves companies has the potential to be a serious game changer. There’s no need to hire an outside agency to come up with some quirky slogan or a commercial that may go viral, just give them your product, tell them what to hashtag and put a check in the mail. Not to mention you’re reaching out directly to the target demographic you’d normally be paying top dollar to research how to get as many eyes on your ads. In 2016, it is handed to you in the form of Followers and you’re making a bet that the influence said celebrity has had at some point in the life of their follower might just entice them to go out and buy the same product. The exposure to your brand may not be as visible as a 30 second spot during the Super Bowl, but if an initial post is tweeted out by someone who has several million followers, well you know how these things start….
That’s a ton of people seeing exactly what you wanted them to see while paying a fraction of the price it used to take to get that kind of visibility. It also allows companies to allocate their marketing resources more evenly to gain even more exposure as opposed to the old approach where companies launched an endorsement deal with a high profile celebrity hawking their product in a commercial. That may resonate with some viewers but it could also cause some to get up and turn the TV off and think negatively about your product because they weren’t a fan of that particular person. Obviously this approach is not for everyone and you’re leaving out huge portions of potential customers who don’t have access to social media or simply don’t understand it. Other products such as insurance and investment companies can’t really use this approach and I feel as though more traditional companies with respected reputations might be hesitant to go this route until proven otherwise.
While it’s still in the early stages, it remains to be seen whether or not it can be regulated as TV commercials have been in years past. One of the stories I read on the topic cited Kim Kardashian getting in trouble with the FDA for not posting about the side effects of a morning sickness drug. This alone tells me that outside agencies realize neglecting it now may cause for trouble down the road and they’re betting it’s not going away anytime soon. I for one will be watching the Super Bowl ads even closer this year and seeing if the same corporations are going to continue shelling out mega bucks for commercial time or if social media advertising might be a better option for them?