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Questions That Celebrity Social Media Endorsements Raise

Celebrities in India now include social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, among others in their brand endorsement contracts, reports The Economic Times.

This is nothing new, celebrities in the west have been charging for brand endorsement on social media sites for couple of years now. In India as well, celebrities earlier charged for brand endorsement on social media sites in a separate contract. There are couple of sites that allow influential Twitter users to get paid for their tweets such as adly.com and UTV’s Sponsoredtweets.com.

However, that raises a question: Who is an influential Twitter users? Is it someone with thousands and lakhs of followers? How can one be sure that they haven’t paid to get those followers? Getting followers on social media sites is cheap. One can buy thousand twitter followers for as low as $3 on sites such as Tweetmogul.comtwittersfollowers.com, among others. A quick search on eBay will bring up deal for Facebook likes as well.

Celebrity endorsements raises the question of transparency and  disclosures. Twitter allows one only 140 characters to update their status messages, which makes it difficult to include disclosures and the message in a single tweet. A lot of influential Twitter users include the sponsored tweet  with hashtag #endorsement, however, not many make this disclosure. When someone doesn’t put up a disclosure about their sponsored tweet, they are not being honest. In last few years, we have seen that a lot of Twitter users are now standing up for disclosures about sponsored tweets.



That said, Twitter has tied up with Komli Media offering promoted tweets in India.  Komli is pitching three options to advertisers:– Promoted Trends are priced at Rs 5.5 Lakhs (around $9130) for 24 hours, Promoted Accounts for a minimum outlay of Rs 6 lakhs per handle ($10,000), and Promoted Tweets for a minimum outlay of Rs 6 lakhs ($10,000). Twitter clearly tags these tweets, trends, or accounts as promoted not leaving any space for ambiguity.

In the US, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had announced that celebrities and online marketers (including bloggers) should disclose when they are getting compensated monetarily for an online endorsement. It has asked sponsored Twitter users to include “Ad:” in a 140 character sponsored tweet.

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