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Twitter marketing: how much is too much for a tweet?

Lindsay Lohan
(Kevork Djansezian/Getty)

On Friday, as Lindsay Lohan sat in court awaiting a verdict, a tweet appeared on her Twitter homepage.

The star's slow-motion car crash life has had a running commentary thanks to her stream-of-consciousness tweeting. So what did she write as she awaited her jail fate?

AWESOME responses on my Chime page!! You guys are so great!!
Please RT!! http://lindsaylohan.chime.inless than a minute ago via web

A handler or a friend could have tweeted this for the actress, but whoever did tweet it timed it accurately to the end of the actress' trial. The link takes people to a new third-party Twitter site that turns "tweets into live conversation." Ten days ago, Lohan mentioned the company in another tweet that had two tell-tale letters at the end of it: "ad."

Lohan sat in court faced with a month of jail time and she tweets an advertisement. According to the advertising company "Sponsored Tweets," Lohan's per tweet ad would cost around $2,985.80 for a company who will pay Lohan to hawk their wares.

It's not new that celebrities tweet for cash, but Lohan's tweet made us pause and not just because it seemed rather cheery in the face of jail time.

The tweet reiterated that so much of Twitter is about marketing--whether or not it is as obvious as Lohan's advertisements. But as more and more people seek the social media site out as a way to get their message to a broader audience, is Twitter a worthwhile marketing venture?

With celebrities tweets, it may not be. Northwestern University released a study that states that celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher have little influence over what becomes a trend on Twitter. Mashable reports that despite the millions of followers, Kutcher is mostly ignored on the site.

This comes after a study released in June by social media analytics company Sysomos found that the followers of celebrity Twitter users have little to no influence on the site. So not only do the celebrities have little impact, their followers have even less of an impact on what sets trends.

That didn't stop TwitChange.com from raising more than $540,000 in a celebrity auction that allowed fans to purchase a retweet from their favorite celebrity.

Twitter itself is working to translate its popularity into profits by selling advertising on the site in the form of Promoted Tweets. A company can pay to have their tweet show up as the first result if a consumer searches for a certain term. And the site will soon launch ads that target users based on the content in their tweets, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The Promoted Tweets can sell for as much as $100,000, and Twitter told the Wall Street Journal that about 80 percent of the companies that marketed their products on Twitter have come back for a second round of advertising.

Is Twitter a smart marketing tool? If you use Twitter, would you ever pay for a Tweet? Would you ever accept money for a Tweet? Does this marketing model seem sustainable?

By Melissa Bell  | September 27, 2010; 1:36 PM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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