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How Celebrities Make Money from Social Media

Celebrity Money, Technology
How Celebrities Make Money from Social Media

In the middle of 2011, Rihanna, the popular singer from Barbados, had a shoot for a video she was making. Nothing really earth shaking as celebrities and artists are normally the subjects of such shoots. However, this particular shoot turned out to be a multi million dollar court case after the clothing brand called Topshop started to use an image from that video shoot by placing it on a shirt and selling it to its clients.

Rihanna cried foul, sued and eventually won the case that awarded her $5 million in damages. It does beg the question, however, that in these days of Internet technology and social media, how can celebrities protect their image and likeness when they themselves post pictures in various social media?

Who Says Celebrities Have No Control over Social Media?

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The images and pictures of celebrities are almost always used for the wrong reasons. Rihanna’s case is just one example. However, with a little planning and ingenuity, celebrities are now learning how to manage and control their pictures in this digital age.

There are now services that allow famous and influential people to retain ownership of images they have uploaded to the net. This is a huge leap from photo sharing sites like Twitpic and Yfrog in which ownership rights are ceded to the company. Now, when Rihanna so much as posts a picture of herself while crossing a street in rag outfit, she will still have control over that image even though that photograph has been uploaded to various social media outlets. Copyright branding is automatic and any improper use of the pictures is subject to fines and even imprisonment.

Some of the celebrities and popular personalities who have taken advantage of this service include Jim Carrey, Katie Couric, John Cusack, Chelsea Handler, Tom Hanks, Enrique Iglesias, Johnny Knoxville, Spike Lee, Eva Longoria, Bill Maher and Kevin Spacey. Now, fans that are merely viewing the image will not see any difference. Those who plan to make money off those pictures, however, have another thing coming. Celebrities now know how to control their images in social media.

Endorsements and Social Media

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Celebrities can also make money by endorsing various products and services in social media. This kind of deal works to the advantage of both the company that provides the product or service and the celebrity endorser.

In the days before the advent of social media, companies have to book not only the celebrity and famous person, but also an advertising company to conceptualize and implement the commercial campaign. It took money, a lot of time and much effort just to produce a short advertisement; afterwards, the company has to pay a lot of money as well just to show the commercial on television, much more if they want it featured during primetime or in special events like the Super Bowl. The same goes for print advertisements and billboard commercials.

Celebrities, on the other hand, had to earn the endorsement money the hard way. They had to show up in photo and video shoots. They also had to prepare and be made up to ensure the perfect shot.

Then, social media came along. Companies can now do away with advertising firms for costly commercial shoots by getting a celebrity to endorse their product or service via tweets or other social media posts. The celebrity, meanwhile, can earn money by simply typing a few lines on the keyboard and posting the endorsement in social media. It is easy money for the celebrity, while the company’s product or service gets promoted to the star’s millions of followers.

The most notable practitioner of social media endorsement is probably Kim Kardashian. She may not be the most talented celebrity in the world in terms of acting or singing, but she certainly knows how to maximize whatever she has to earn money. After all, this was the same celebrity who cashed in on a sex tape scandal that would have probably ruined other stars. She also had the guts to charge $2,500 to people who wanted to attend her birthday party.

So when she got married to Kris Humphries, a player from the National Basketball Association, she milked the wedding for all its worth even though the actual marriage lasted for only 72 days. She got wedding items for free in exchange for her endorsement via tweet messages. She even got paid for most of the endorsements, with estimates putting her entire earnings at almost $18 million from the wedding alone.

Kardashian does not even bother with consistency when she chooses her endorsements. She tweets for dietary products and weight loss supplements, even as she endorses fast food companies and cupcakes.

And Another Kardashian Keeps Up with Kim

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Khloe Kardashian, Kim’s younger sister, obviously took her sister’s cue and took advantage of her huge popularity to make money from social media. Leveraging off her more than 8.3 million followers on Twitter as of the middle of August 2013, she now charges $13,000 for every endorsement tweet.

Celebrities need not even be currently popular. Their famous names carry intrinsic value for advertisers, regardless of when they became popular. Even someone like Frankie Muniz, who was a television star in the early 2000’s through the hit series Malcolm in the Middle, still gets paid $252 per tweet. After all, he still has more than 183,000 Twitter followers as of August 2013.

Reality television celebrity Farrah Abraham has more than 840,000 followers and she tweets out her endorsements for various products for $390. Even Mike Tyson, the former heavyweight boxing champion, still packs a punch in the advertising world as his more than 3.7 million followers are enough to command a $3,250 per tweet endorsement fee.

Other celebrities making money from social media include:

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