Bieber Boober — Printing money with Twitter

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Eastern_Bluebird-27527-2Do you ever have this happen to you…. Just when you think you know something, you learn that you know nothing?

This morning was such a time. As I was browsing through the news stream, eventually coming to Yahoo, I caught one of Yahoo’s silly sensational headlines, leading me to an article about Mr. Justin Bieber.

Just so I am clear, I am no fan of Justin Bieber, who I broadly categorize with Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus (whose real name, by the way, is Destiny Hope Cyrus — just in case you thought parental stupidity could not reach new heights) and the slew of other fairytale teenage singers who are struggling with their perpetual teenage angst until well into their 30’ies — probably justifiably so, since their parents, in my view, robbed them of their childhoods in their search to prove that their children were gifted.

Justin Bieber versus Olivia Wilde

The nexus of the latest Bieber controversy was a scolding tweet by Ms. Olivia Wilde, reacting to yet another Bieber attention-seeking six-pack display, which I will relay in full (and, as usual I apologize in advance for the the wording… I simply quote the facts):

“Bieber, put your fucking shirt on. (unless you lost all your shirts in a fire in which case my condolences and please purchase a new shirt.)”

Hilarity ensued, of course, with her tweet being reposted ten million times (actually 9,665 times at the time of this posting.)

Personally, I think that the Twitter missive would have been more funny if Ms. Wilde had dropped the fire bit and written something like “unless you lost your shirt” instead, implying financial ruin, and left it at that, but I recognize that in the Twitter-verse subtlety is a losing proposition. Also, of course, poking fun at Mr. Bieber with economic arguments might be self-defeating since — I suspect — his net worth exceeds that of Ms. Wilde by a not inconsiderable factor.

It is a bit of a mystery why Ms. Wilde, herself a bit of an arrested-development, angst-ridden, attention-seeking young adult who was probably robbed of her youth when she married at 19 years of age, thinks that she can take the moral high-ground and beam her scolding down on Mr. Bieber.

Lest we forget, Olivia Wilde is a mere nine years older than the Mr. Bieber, and has a track-record of wearing body-hugging, midriff-showing, and nipple-exposing outfits for the purpose of, yes, showing that she has the stuff. How exactly this dress-code, augmented, for Chrissake, with nude of near-nude movie and GQ shots, is morally superior to the shirt-dropping of Mr. Bieber, I don’t get.

Certainly, Ms. Wilde is no stranger to dropping her shirt — and everything else, in fact. In Alpha Dogs, for instance, she is romping in a rather seedy hotel room, and now it would appear that her artistic side has compelled her to suggest a skinny dipping scene in Drinking Buddies, the latest Joe Swanberg improvisational flick, with Jonathan Crow of SXSW reporting that Ms. Wilde told Mr. Swanberg, that:

“I think I need to take my clothes off.”

Her behavior may come down to some sort of cleverly induced trance, for, as Ms. Wilde says:

“After you improvise for a while you can’t remember what you’ve done. It’s so instinctual; it’s flowing out of you. It almost feels like you blackout.”

You know, I don’t know. It seems fishy to me. A lot of actors appear to be able to improvise without proposing that they go streaking (witness, for instance the full body of Woody Allen’s work, which, although massively improvised, seems to have somehow avoided having the actors spontaneously drop their clothes.) And, for that matter, if the purpose of improvisation is simply to make it more real and Ms. Wilde’s view of real is that it includes the need to strip down, in some sort of very disturbing return-to-infancy way, why is Mr. Bieber’s continuous very real stripping wrong?

Perhaps, Mr. Bieber ought to retort by twittering to Ms. Wilde to keep her clothes on. Period.

Regardless of her rather unstable soap-box stand, however, Ms. Wilde might have touched a nerve, and, so, the world had the opportunity to get a glimpse into Mr. Bieber’s psyche when he unleashed a virtual rant on Twitter, most of which we will mercifully ignore, except one piece that is simply too precious:

“I understand it is part of the job to be judged…but judge me on the facts, judge me on the music, and be careful of the judgement u pass. but know this…im only judged by one power, and i serve him.”

So, Mr. Bieber, who would probably have been better of just ignoring the jabs about his desire to lose his shirt, made an — in tennis parlance — unforced error, implying what exactly? That he is a disciple of a deity? That he does it all not for money, but rather to advance the cause of his god? Is he threatening his followers? I don’t know, but it sure sounds wacky coming from a guy who appear to have a passion for fast cars and large entourages.

On that note, Ms. Wilde’s real name appears to be … wait for it… Cockburn!!!! How Mr. Bieber could miss out on the opportunity to exact his revenge using this tidbit is beyond me. Perhaps he really is aspiring to a better life.

Anyways, I digress….

The long-tail economy in Twitter

What is amazing is that Ms. Wilde has 813 thousand followers on Twitter, which means that 813 thousand people across the globe, equivalent to the population of Alask, by the way, actually think that she has something important to say.

But that is not all. To my great surprise, Mr. Bieber has the highest following of anyone or anything on Twitter, having amassed an amazing 35 million followers, meaning that 35 million people across the globe actually care to listen to him. No — I did not check to see if the Pope follows Mr. Bieber.

I am not a fan of Twitter, but then I appear to not be a fan of most things that everyone else seem to think is pretty cool. However, I do understand the direct and indirect business reasons for someone like Mr. Bieber to be on Twitter (as well as, of course, the narcissistic reasons, which I am pretty sure weighs in heavily.)

What I don’t understand are the followers. In particular I don’t understand them given that it has been pretty common knowledge (thank Paris Hilton for this) that a lot of Twitter traffic is sponsored. Why exactly would you ask for commercials to be sent to you? I mean, it is one thing to turn on the TV or read a magazine and see Mr. Brad Pitt prostituting himself, but it is something entirely different to ask NBC or GQ to send me all ads including Mr. Pitt. In fact, it borders on creepy.

In 2012 Jorg Ruis from The New Web (TNW) actually went ahead and bought one of these sponsored quasi-spontaneous twitter ads from Paris Hilton (or, more correctly, from her people,) and, being a good web dweeb, he, of course, wrote about the experience on a blog:

Last week we found out that Paris Hilton was offering to send out a sponsored Tweet, for $3,000. My first instinct was “That is hilarious!” and I showed it to a few people who also all laughed about it. Usually you have a good laugh about it and then continue with your ‘real’ work. We thought we’d use it as an experiment, and we actually bought one. ….

According to Google Analytics, the tweet brought in 2,652 visits, with 75% of them being new, and 85% of those visits bouncing. Given that it was more new visits than usual, we were surprised to see that the bounce rate stayed roughly the same.

The stats from BuySellAds, where we bought the tweet, showed numbers that were considerably different. As of the time of this writing, they’re showing 6,008 clicks of the link. The only thing that we can figure, to account for the difference, is the impact that may have been had by using link-shortening services.

So was it worth it? Well, that really depends on what you’re trying to get. If we consider an 85% bounce rate of the 2,562 confirmed visits that we tracked via Google Analytics, that means that up to 15% of those visitors continued to stay on the site or perhaps purchased a ticket. If they had indeed all purchased a ticket to TNW Conference 2012, there would be no question whether or not it was money well-spent.

If we have indeed gotten a touch over 6,000 visits, then we paid about $0.50 per click. When you’re talking awareness, I suppose that’s not a bad cost, but a decently-titled and interesting post on TNW can easily drive that kind of traffic in a day, rather than a week.

Now, assuming that the tweet at hand took 30 seconds to type and send, then Ms. Hilton’s Twitter time is worth a staggering $360,000 per hour — or something like 50 thousand times the minimum wage. Multiply that earnings power with a Twitter population that is five times the size (Ms. Hilton has, I think, something like six million followers,) and you can easily see why Mr. Bieber is busy Twittering away. I oversimplify the economics, of course, but you get the point.

At $360,000 per hour, by the way, Ms. Hilton’s compensation handily beats the hourly income of Ms. Rockefeller from her — ahemmm — work at PepsiCo, which at $4,736.84 per hour was not shabby. Perhaps Ms. Rockefeller’s people should call Ms. Hilton’s people to get some pointers.

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