I’m not certain why websites run international stories in their regional editions, but that’s just what the International Business Times did. In their Australian edition they ran a story about Twitter earners which claims that according to Forbes, over the course of a year, one third of Lady Gaga’s $52,000,000 haul was earned via Twitter related activities. The Australian edition of an international website may seen like a roundabout way to find out what an American performer makes according to an American magazine, but there it is.
So how did La Gaga weaponize her tweets to the tune of $17,333,333.33? As far as I can tell she runs paid advertisements. It’s that simple. A brief glance at her feed reveals no theme or relationship between her and her clients, but I’d like to think that on occasion she let’s her 44.1 million followers know that when the truly fashion conscious decide to wear a dress made entirely from meat products, “Hormel® Black Label® Bacon is the only brand that makes everything better.”
Per her home page, the Lady has been a member of Twitter since 2008. In the seven years since joining, she has posted 6,341 tweets as of today. The $17 million dollar per annum figure was likely a banner year as it attracted the attention of an antipodean regional edition of an internationl outlet to trumpet the estimates of a podean national publication, but assuming for the sake of argument that her tweets are evenly divided among the last six years means she tweeted 1056 times in that banner years. That’s $16,098.48 per tweet.
Put another way, Lady Gaga took the potential of 152,064 typed characters and in one year turned that potential into an amount just under half of the GDP of Tuvalu, a member of the British Commonwealth.
Of course no tweets are created equal. The utterly banal expressions of less than 144 characters earn her nothing. It’s the apparent pointed advertisements that bring in the dollars. For every twenty or so blathers about hanging up on someone there is a call to capitalist action:
But is this worth it to the advertiser? My personal experience as a consumer of tweets is that so many of them are background noise. How many TGI Friday’s ads get seen by her 44.1 million followers? How many of those followers are even real people? I’m willing to trust the market on this and accept that people do research and assess value before handing over the rough equivalent of half the yearly output of an island nation, but I won’t apologize for a raised eyebrow.
So how is this recreated? How do you or I drive our follows up high enough to command eight figure incomes? The answer is probably, 1) write some terrible songs, 2) become a pop star, 3) start a twitter account, 4) wear a phone on your head on a t.v. (television) show for some reason, 5) profit. I really don’t understand the Gaga appeal.
For me, Twitter is a decent tool for passing on news, articles, and contacting writers with comments on their work. This is not the path to riches. At most this gets you just over one hundred followers, the occasional favorite, and a re-tweet every now and then, but recently I had a spike in all categories.
It wasn’t by being clever. No bon mots necessary. I didn’t appear on a talk show or get born to family of hotel owners or even flash the paparazzi my crotch. I got a puppy.
More to the point, I got a puppy, named him after a favorite character in a well known series of books and tweeted along a picture of him to the author. So when Ian Rankin, author of the best selling Inspector Rebus books received this photo:
with the comment “Meet our newest addition, DI Rebus,” he could not help but re-tweet it on to his legion of mystery loving fans. What followed was a small scale torrent of commentary, some in fascinating Scottish dialects, and favorites and re-tweets. It was not anything near what the likes of Lady Gaga are used to and probably no greater a response than the average “omg this class is so boring!!1!” that a well connected teenage girl at a medium sized high school would come to expect, but for my modest corner of Twitterdom, it was a revelation.
So I advise posting pictures of your pets and sending them to famous people. It’s what they are there for.
Will this get you millions of followers? Probably not. You’d have to do it over and over again so you would need to get a lot of pets. Was this just a sneaky long winded way to get people to look at my new puppy? Please. I have too much dignity to stoop that low.