The longer tailed economy — power projection through Twitter

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In a recent posting where I wrote about a Twitter spat between Mr. Justin Bieber and Ms. Olivia Wilde, I detailed how Twitter, which is quite useless for most of us, has huge direct value for a select few of us, most notably celebrities who tweet for cash, such as Ms. Paris Hilton, whose tweeting time I was able to compute as being valued at a nominal rate of $360,000 per hour.

Staggering…. However, this is only a direct benefit. Let’s look at the potential for indirect benefits.

A Twitter battle

DSC_9936The last two weeks’ debate regarding Mr. Jay Leno’s replacement by Mr. Jimmy Fallon as the host of the Tonight Show has highlighted another way that Twitter can help celebrities and media personalities achieve massive wealth.

As you may have noted if you follow the on-going skirmish, the crux of the argument for the replacement of Mr. Leno by Mr. Fallon no longer hinges on Mr. Leno’s absolute performance relative to his competitors, but, rather, on him not being as hip as Mr. Fallon.

Hipness of Mr. Leno and Mr. Fallon is evidently measured partly by their respective numbers of Twitter followers where, evidently, Mr. Fallon, the current host of the Late Night show, airing after the Tonight Show, has eight million Twitter followers while Mr. Leno has only half a million followers.

In other words 15 times more people listens to Mr. Fallon’s stream of consciousness than the number of people that listens to Mr. Leno. Or, perhaps more correctly if you suspect, as I do, that much of the tweeting is outsourced, 15 times more people listens to Mr. Fallon’s people’s constant push of products and offerings than the number of people that listens to Mr. Leno.

A Wikipedia entry describes Mr. Fallon’s hipness in rather poignant terms, referring to “Fallon … whose tenure at Late Night had found success with a young, culturally savvy audience.” I guess that means that anybody who is not not watching the Late Night show — or, by extension, following Mr. Fallon on Twitter — is either old or … well … not culturally savvy, whatever that means.

I will just interject that Mr. Fallon’s eight million hip Twitter followers should be held up against a worldwide population of 7 billion humans, or so (the World Bank estimated the earth’s (human) population at 6,973,738,433 in 2011, but I sense that with this scale of of numbers I can be allowed some latitude,) meaning that this supposedly hip crowd constitutes 0.11% percent of the world’s population.

Likewise, the hip viewers of the Late Night show, something like 1.5 million per day if you believe the strange extrapolations that the rating agencies base their world-view on, should be held up against a United States population (sorry, Canada!) of 320 million, or so (313,914,040 in 2012 as per the United States Census Bureau,) meaning that the young, culturally savvy group constitutes 0.47% of the United States’ population. Certainly look like an elitist group to me.

A side-note: Interestingly, in the web-sphere the term culturally savvy is strongly linked to Christianity (I swear this is true — try the oracle of Google if you doubt me,) so I am not sure if the Wikipedia entry is trying to intimate that Mr. Fallon’s followers are Christians, and, if so, this is really the demographics that NBC, the owners of the Tonight Show and the Late Night show, is aiming to capture….

What Mr. Fallon says to his eight million ultra-hip and evidently incredibly influential followers may surprise you and is perhaps best illustrated by this extract from the last days’ tweets (spoiler.. although Mr. Fallon is a comedian, don’t expect the following to be funny):

@todayshow’s Kathie Lee Gifford, @JamesPurefoy and music from Dido (@didoofficial)!

Good show tonight. Ice-T (@FINALLEVEL), Chris Hardwick (@nerdist), music from @LittleGreenCars + Darts of Insanity! #LateNight

Come on – 35 minutes until we are on!!! Watch NBC!!!! It’s a fun show. Thanks.

Watch Late Night tonight!! Brand new shows all week! #NBC

Tonight on @Latenightjimmy: @UsherRaymondIV, @_KateMara, @Wale and @ApprenticeNBC

Good day to everyone. Here’s to this week being a memorable one.

Fun show tonight: @kevinbacon, @sigurros, Night News Now and Thank You Notes. #twelvethirtyseven #NBC

Tonight on the show: @KevinBacon, Elizabeth Mitchell from “Revolution”, Gary Dell’Abate aka @robertAbooey & music from @sigurros. #LateNight

Tonight, Drew Barrymore is on the show! Plus, Thandie Newton & music from @brandicarlile. #LateNight #Fun #Thursday

Fun show tonight – Nicolas Cage, @birbigs, Celebrity Apprentice’s @latoyajackson & a performance from @KipMooreMusic. #LateNight

After such a great week with @jtimberlake what better way to end it with History of Rap and a best of mix from JT. Tonight! #LateNight #NBC

.@jtimberlake is AMAZING on Late Night tonight. Talented human. #JustinTimberweek #NBC

Be sure to watch @jtimberlake on Late Night tonight. It’s gonna be “historical”. #JUSTINTIMBERWEEK

I don’t know about you, but I, for one, don’t think that this is particularly hip, and I somehow doubt that eight million hipsters around the world are waiting with bated breath for the next tweet from Mr. Fallon.

Yes, eight million people may have signed up to follow Mr. Fallon, but, by way of comparison and in line with the Christianity angle, there is evidently also a Bible in every hotel room in America, and I am not so sure that that means that nightly prayer is emerging from the majority of these rooms… quite the contrary, in fact.

I hasten to say that, of course, it is possible that I am simply not young enough and/or sufficiently culturally savvy to see how these eight million followers amount to something influential.

What’s at stake

The stakes are huge, of course.

Mr. Leno’s annual pay from the Tonight Show is currently $15 million, or so, down from $30 million as part of recent budget cuts at the show (the show generated more than $250 million in ad revenues in 2007, but only $150 million, or so, in 2012.) Moreover, Mr. Leno’s net worth, estimated to be in excess of $150 million was built primarily on the basis of his work at (and paycheck from) the Tonight Show.

In comparison, Mr. Fallons’ paycheck is a measly $5 million per year and his net worth is estimated at $15 million. A pittance, really.

Clearly, pushing Mr. Leno out of the nest has vast economic potential… and why not… Mr. Leno is old and not culturally savvy, anyway.

So, tweet away Jimmy… It seems to be working, slowly leveraging Jay out of the nest.

And if you get tired of doing so, just review the basic math… at five tweets per day for a potential gain of $25 million dollars per year, each tweet is worth $13,699. No shabby…

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