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Brands log on to sponsored tweets

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Twitter, the popular micro-blogging site, has become an attractive platform for advertisers.

Interactive, the digital arm of UTV, yesterday launched an advertising platform — www.sponsoredtweets.com — on in India. UTV has entered into an exclusive association with Izea, a leading company in social media sponsorships, for this purpose.

Ted Murphy, CEO of Izea, says “SponsoredTweets is a marketplace that allows you to sign up as either an advertiser or a tweeter. Advertisers compensate tweeters with a per-tweet price, in exchange for their tweets. You can set your price, choose your categories and keywords and then approve or deny offers from advertisers as they come in.

“60 per cent of Indians who are on social media are open to being approached by brands,” says Samir Pitalwalla, senior VP, UTV Interactive.

Murphy of Izea, which has completed over 2,000,000 social media sponsorships for customers ranging from small local businesses to Fortune 500 organisations, hopes that along with UTV it can leverage its advertising platform to connect Indian advertisers with Izea’s international celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Diddy and Nick Cannon as well as create monetisation opportunities for the estimated 6 million Twitter users in India.

Last year, the social networking platform had announced that users would see ‘Promoted Tweets’ within their Twitter stream or Timelines.

Users need not fear an overflow of promotional tweets as these will be seen only if the user is already following the company sponsoring the tweet. For example, if you follow MTV or PepsiCo and they are sponsoring a tweet, it will appear towards the top of user’s Twitter timeline. MNC brands like Dell, Gatorade, HBO, JetBlue, Microsoft Xbox, Red Bull and even non-profit organisations like the Make-A-Wish Foundation have used promoted tweets on Twitter to reach out to users.

While Nielson and AbsolutData reports confirm that one-fourth of Indians online were able to recall brands using social media, experts believe that Indian celebrities pushing brand sponsored advertisements to their followers on social media would be largely ineffective.

Hareesh Tibrewala, joint CEO of Social Wavelength and a social media strategist, opines, “Many Indian brands and corporates now have an active Twitter page where they interact with customers and run promotional campaigns. A film or sports celebrity endorsing a product on Twitter would be like reading a commercial of the brand and that’s not what Twitter followers usually do. Instead they prefer having dialogue with the celebrity or brand directly.”

Sabyasachi Mitter, MD, Interface Business Solutions, has worked on some of the biggest brands in the digital and social media space. Interface estimates that most Indian brands will be bullish on social media and spend between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 5 crore (per brand) in 2011. “We see the FMCG sector adding an incremental Rs 100 crore to the digital business in 2011,” says the digital agency.

Mitter, whose agency has designed several Twitter campaigns for Tata DoCoMo, notes, “In April, Twitter introduced geo targeting and this made advertising on Twitter more attractive and cost effective. The twitter handle of the brand, @tatadocomo gained more than 5,000 followers in July compared to the two years it took to gain 16,000 followers.”

According to data from Nielson and AbsolutData, over the next six months 45,000 internet users from Indian intend to join social networking sites every day.

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