What's a Tweet Worth? Toyota, Soulja Boy Disagree

Twitter PR

Twitter may be a booming social network, connecting up millions of people around the world, but what's a tweet worth? Music star Soulja Boy and Toyota, both of whom recently launched Twitter promotional campaigns, have vastly differing ideas.

Soulja Boy has 2.5 million Twitter followers, but tweeting to promote the newest album "The DeAndre Way" (along with other traditional marketing efforts) resulted in a mere 13,000 sales over the record's first week of availability—enough to land the album at an invisible 90th place on the Billboard 200. Compared to the 2008 album's "iSouljaBoyTellem," which had 45,000 first-week sales, it's a big disappointment.

The launch of the new album prompted Soulja Boy's tweet feed to register an extra 70 tweets, 20 or so directly referencing the new album and some including a link to iTunes. Compared to the normal 15-20 daily tweets from this account, the push represented quite an effort—and was probably hard to avoid if you were one of Soulja Boy's 2.5 million fans.

So was it a failure? There are a number of things to think about. First, as Billboard.biz points out "Soulja Boy is very much a singles artist," so expecting huge numbers of albums to sell isn't necessarily the right thing—although the album did sell less than the previous one, at first. Twitter may not be the right promotional vehicle for pushing album sales. The timing for the launch may have been off, due to market conditions. Twitter may have been flooded that week with tweets to do with global events, meaning promotional tweets got lost in the flow. There could've been any number of reasons—including the fact that the new album simply may not be as good as the earlier release—why the Twitter campaign didn't work.

As a point of comparison, Toyota is currently trying a promotional campaign that gives $500 to buyers of new qualifying Toyota cars who send a specific tweet to mention their purchase: "If I get my new Toyota during Toyotathon they’ll give me $500 just for this Tweet. http://buyatoyota.com @Toyota #shareathon." Essentially Toyota's PR team are valuing each of these tweets at $500 worth of promotional material. The users have to sign up, tweet, and then get their money if they buy a Toyota by January 3 2011, so there's a degree of marketing-to-sales conversion in the mix, but Toyota's obviously hoping that there's some independent PR value in the event.

Toyota and Soulja Boy's marketing teams will evidently disagree about the value of a tweet. But what can PR folks learn about this? Twitter isn't a marketing panacea—it's a tool that you have to use intelligently and carefully in order to convert digital action into hard sales. Relying on just "putting the news out there" may not necessarily be enough, and a smarter, more integrated tweet campaign may achieve more success. Also: Cash helps!

To read more news on this, and similar stuff, keep up with my updates by following me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.

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4 Comments

  • adam kruvand

    Apples and Oranges. Offering 2% off for a tweet or post or link is offering a 2% discount. Spamming social media outlets with that link directing people to buy things is, well.... spam. Fan or not, which one would you respond to?

  • Animaaaaal

    Fans want what’s hot now. they want the single. they dont care about the album. you need to create a demand for your music and the only way to do that now is give it all way. If you make 9 out of 10 songs free, they will want to buy that one song they couldn’t get for free. The traditional music biz model is gone. dropping singles to create anticipation for the album release is no longer especially if you’re selling the singles. you can create incentives to buy, as some have suggested, but you’re still banking on the old model. sell the album. The incentives idea has always been around. Limited Edition releases, exclusive artwork, bonus songs, hidden tracks, golden tickets, etc. you’re not doing anything new here. If everyone has your music already, whether they bought it or not, they still want to see you perform it live. And that’s where you’re going to make your money at. Labels are so worried about record sales because that’s how they make money. Artist shouldn’t be worried about that. They should be worried about how many fans are going to be at their show. Soulja Boy has 2.5 million followers and sold 13,000 albums. Do you really think only 13,000 of his fans have his music. I guarantee you a nice chunk of his followers already had the music they wanted and can’t wait for him to come to town so they can go crank that superman live and in person.

    Check out my blog post: Do You Need To Have Your Music On iTunes?

  • Johnnie at GentlemanREDUX

    Toyota's stance on this is a simple one though. If you can entice consumers to purchase a $25,000+ item with the carrot of $500 - why not take the loss? You're up $24.5K!! That's the value of a tweet in Toyota's case. Make people think that they're getting something valuable ($500), when in the long run - it's mutually beneficial (with you coming out on top as a company signing new customers to your brand with a contract).

    Soulja Boy's camp is in the interesting position of having to make sales in a falling industry. They HAVE to look in free channels - so whether it's a noisy channel or not, they'll try it because it's free and it's where their demographic dwells.

    That's my 2 cents anyway.

  • Press F1

    Agreed.

    Once again proving that there isn't a single marketing pill that will cure all your ails. Not everyone tweets (gasp) and those that do smell marketing campaign a mile away - meaning, not all will be willing to jump on the hype bus. You're trying to apply old school techniques to new social media. Sure I can use a screwdriver to hammer a nail but is it really the best tool in the box?