Behold the explosive power of the drug called Charlie Sheen and his fire-breathing fists.
If you didn’t hear, yesterday Charlie Sheen joined Twitter. Today he very well may reach 1 million followers (as I type he’s already passed the 900K mark).
How did it happen? Why all of a sudden did he wake up and decide it’s Twitter time? And how was it that Charlie Sheen went from non-twitterer to hardcore twitterer overnight? Short answer: he got a lot of help from a team of experts at Ad.ly, a small Beverly Hills start-up that focuses on celebrity endorsements via Facebook and Twitter.
When Charlie Sheen started tweeting I went to look at his page. I noticed he was, at that time, only following a few people. One of them was Chris Ovitz, whose Twitter bio says “Director of Business Development at Ad.ly, Entrepreneur, and huge dork.”
I was very familiar with Ad.ly — a former AOL colleague works there. I thought it strange that an Ad.ly employee was one of the first people Charlie Sheen followed on Twitter, so I emailed my friend and then got on the phone with Ad.ly CEO Arnie Gullov-Singh.
“Yesterday morning a friend of Charlie Sheen’s reached out to Ad.ly’s celebrity team and said Charlie would like to get on Twitter,” Arnie told me. “Charlie said he wants to communicate directly with his fans and bypass the media.”
Turns out Charlie Sheen’s friend knows a couple of people from the Ad.ly team. When Charlie decided he wanted to talk to his audience through Twitter, his friend asked Ad.ly for help. Ad.ly reached out to Twitter and secured Charlie’s verified account. The Ad.ly team then spent a couple of hours on the phone with Charlie Sheen and his friend explaining the tools of Twitter: hashtags, bit.ly, twit pic, and how to use Twitter to build an audience and keep them engaged.
“During the call Charlie was focused and really excited about communicating directly with his fans. He had seen other celebrities join Twitter and he realized it was the best way for him to tell his side of the story directly to his audience,” said Arnie. “He’s been posting pictures, that’s really helped. The first picture he’s posted has been viewed over a million times already. I think we are about 24 hours into the life of Charlie Sheen’s Twitter account and he has 900,000 followers. I’ve never seen growth from zero to 900K in 24 hours.”
Ad.ly did not charge Charlie Sheen for the Twitter set-up consultation; they say it’s part of how they work with the Hollywood community.
“We’ve become the go-to guys in Hollywood for social media. This isn’t the first time we’ve done this for a celebrity,” said Arnie. “We’ve done this on numerous occasions. This is just the first time it’s taken off so quickly.”
Ad.ly delivers celebrity endorsements when they’re needed, in a very short time period. They don’t have contracts with celebrities; Ad.ly forges an on-demand relationship. They work with brands to help them advertise to scale on Facebook and Twitter, and they do this using celebrities. When a brand has a campaign they match it with anywhere from 12 to 50 celebrities, people like Lauren Conrad, the Kardashians, or Snoop Dogg. Those celebrities are matched based on their fan base, and they receive a flat fee for each post on Facebook or Twitter. It’s always disclosed that it’s an ad, using variations like #ad or (ad) or the celebrity simply typing “I’m working with Brand X.”
According to Ad Age, celebrity endorsements are a $50B global business. Over the past 12 months Ad.ly has run 24K endorsements for 150 brands. Does this mean we’ll see Charlie Sheen twittering out celeb endorsements? Not just yet, says Arnie.
“All of his tweets have been organic so far. Right now it’s all about helping him get started. We really didn’t think he’d have 900K followers in 24 hours. It’s inevitable that brands will be lining up to work with him. That time will come sooner rather than later.”
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