It's no secret that Twitter can be a tremendous time-suck. But imagine getting paid for wasting those precious minutes of your day. With companies desperate to reach consumers in the social-media crowd, it's now possible to make a buck or two--or much more--on Twitter. A company called Izea, which made its name connecting bloggers with firms willing to compensate them for plugs on their blogs, has set up a similar service for the Twittersphere. At a site called Sponsored Tweets, Twitter users can sign in, set the price they want companies to pay them for tweeting an ad on their behalf and wait for the offers to come in. Jocelyn French, the mother of a 2-year-old boy and 1-year-old girl, has tweeted for a parenting website, a college-information site and Kmart, among others, at $1 a pop. "I figure, hey, why not get paid at the same time?" French says. On average, companies are paying Sponsored Tweets users $29 per tweet.
Ted Murphy, founder and CEO of Izea, says more than 10,000 Twitter users have signed up for Sponsored Tweets since early August. About 700 advertisers, mostly small to medium-size businesses, plus a handful of FORTUNE 500 companies, are using the platform. Marketers have access to the entire database of tweeters and can select whom they want to pay and how much they're willing to dish out. Compensation is based on a user's expertise or passion, how many followers that person has and other metrics, like how often the tweeter's followers click on the links posted on his or her Twitter page. Murphy says he has paid more than $100,000 to Twitter users. As commission, he takes 15% to 50% of the payments companies give the microbloggers.
The trend does have detractors. "Sponsored Tweets is controversial," acknowledges Robin Dance, a part-time fundraiser and blogger from Chattanooga, Tenn., who has amassed a 2,800-plus-strong Twitter following and has also tweeted for Kmart. "I've had good friends and fellow bloggers say they have no use for Sponsored Tweets and will unfollow me if I use it. They say I'm selling out, that it's Twitter blasphemy."
Paid tweeting also raises questions about disclosure: If someone speaks highly about a product on Twitter, don't followers have a right to know if that messenger is a compensated mouthpiece? Murphy insists that all tweets brokered through his site carry some form of disclosure, but it's all too easy for a reader to gloss over the "sponsored" tag at the end of the message or not entirely comprehend what it signifies.
There's a cost for tweeters too. Stuffing your Twitter feed with advertisements is a good way to lose followers--and even real friends. "I do understand the arguments against Sponsored Tweets," says Dance, the Tennessee blogger, who plans to take fuller advantage of the service (she won't disclose her price). "But ... there's nothing subversive about it. It's just a little payback for the four years of my life I've invested in my blog."
Twitter Your ad can go HERE! half a minute ago from web