Cash for your com­ments sounds tweet

Time spent on so­cial me­dia might pay off, writes Jen­nifer Dud­ley-ni­chol­son

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page -

AGOOD rep­u­ta­tion is more valu­able than money, the say­ing goes, but an in­creas­ing num­ber of so­cial net­work users are turn­ing their in­ter­net rep­u­ta­tions into cash, prod­ucts and ser­vices.

It’s a trend dubbed the per­sonal in­for­ma­tion econ­omy and re­searchers in­clud­ing LSN Global say it’s likely to ramp up as users be­come more aware of the value be­hind their per­sonal in­for­ma­tion.

Al­ready tools are emerg­ing to rate the worth of your on­line brand, as­sess­ing your au­di­ence reach and pop­u­lar­ity, while other ser­vices of­fer you cash or prod­ucts for in­ter­net en­dorse­ments.

On­line so­cial but­ter­flies can even trade their rep­u­ta­tions on a vir­tual stock­mar­ket, earn­ing in­vestors vir­tual cash div­i­dends.

This per­sonal in­for­ma­tion econ­omy emerged out of a con­cern to pro­tect real-world rep­u­ta­tions, RMIT busi­ness, IT and lo­gis­tics lec­turer Dr John Le­nar­cic says, but it trans­formed into some­thing else.

Like an on­line pop­u­lar­ity con­test, users on Twit­ter, Face­book, Google+, Linkedin, Flickr and other so­cial net­works be­gan to fight for the big­gest au­di­ences and, in some cases, be­gan to see the ser­vices as a per­sonal mar­ket­ing op­por­tu­nity.

‘‘ It’s like turn­ing one’s on­line rep­u­ta­tion into a com­mod­ity that you can sell,’’ Le­nar­cic says. ‘‘ Peo­ple are now aware that they’re al­most fa­mous for more than 15 min­utes in the Andy Warhol sense be­cause there’s a lot of me­dia cov­er­age on peo­ple who have an enor­mous fol­low­ing on Twit­ter, or blog­gers who have a hefty read­er­ship.’’

Users with niche au­di­ences tend to be more valu­able to out­side com­pa­nies, Le­nar­cic says, with those who blog about ar­eas in the fash­ion and food in­dus­tries stand­outs.

‘‘ There’s plenty of pay­ola around for these niche au­di­ences,’’ he says. ‘‘ Just like ra­dio, the pay­ola is hap­pen­ing Star power: Char­lie Sheen, Kim Kar­dashian and Lind­say Lo­han are ru­moured to have been paid per tweet for en­dors­ing web­sites and prod­ucts. in blog­ging be­cause so­cial me­dia is big busi­ness. Com­pa­nies will send them free sam­ples for good word of mouth or re­views.’’

So­cial me­dia trainer Natalie Alaimo says one of the rea­sons so­cial me­dia users are be­ing tar­geted by busi­nesses is for their reach.

‘‘ Face­book has 800 mil­lion peo­ple on it and to get that ex­po­sure in any other me­dia would cost thou­sands,’’ she says. ‘‘ Never be­fore have busi­nesses been able to mar­ket to so many peo­ple at such a low cost.’’

US re­al­ity TV star Kim Kar­dashian, for ex­am­ple, is re­port­edly paid $10,000 per tweet, a fig­ure that may seem ex­ag­ger­ated but, Alaimo says, is akin to a typ­i­cal celebrity en­dorse­ment fig­ure.

Reg­u­lar Twit­ter users can also be paid to send ad­ver­tis­ing tweets, how­ever, sev­eral ser­vices now of­fer ways to con­nect users with busi­nesses.

The most fa­mous of the group, Spon­sored Tweets, boasts clients in­clud­ing the Kar­dashian sis­ters, The Hills cast mem­bers, and ‘‘ Bos­ton’’ Rob Mar­i­ano from Sur­vivor.

Ev­ery­day Twit­ter users are en­cour­aged to use the ser­vice too, and re­ceive a price es­ti­mate for ad­ver­tis­ing tweets based on their num­ber of fol­low­ers.

Other ad­ver­tis­ing ser­vices for Twit­ter in­clude Ad.ly, Twit­tad and Twit­pub, while link-short­en­ing ser­vices such as Linkbucks and Adf.ly pay mod­est prices for shar­ing web links.

De­spite the op­por­tu­ni­ties to sell in­for­ma­tion, Text 100 se­nior di­rec­tor Kar­alee Evans warns against it.

‘‘ Australia is one of those funny coun­tries where we have such a cul­ture that we don’t take too well to the su­per­fi­cial,’’ Evans says.

‘‘ Pro­moted and spon­sored tweets and Face­book posts in the US and parts of Europe tend to go down bet­ter. In Australia we have a neg­a­tive at­ti­tude to ad­ver­tis­ing in our so­cial me­dia streams.’’

Evans also warns against the prac­tice of amass­ing Twit­ter fol­low­ers just for the brag­ging rights, say­ing an en­gaged au­di­ence of 200 fol­low­ers is more valu­able than an au­di­ence of 1000 spam­bots.

On­line rep­u­ta­tion rank­ing ser­vices now emerg­ing, such as Klout and Peerindex, give users a score based on their so­cial me­dia in­flu­ence. Those with higher rank­ings or scores can be of­fered free ser­vices or prod­ucts in Klout, but both Alaimo and Evans warn against putting too much faith in ser­vices us­ing a math­e­mat­i­cal for­mula to de­ter­mine on­line reach.

Per­haps the most ef­fec­tive way of us­ing the per­sonal in­for­ma­tion econ­omy is to pro­mote your own ‘‘ per­sonal brand’’, mar­ket­ing so­cial me­dia con­sul­tant Mel Ket­tle says.

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