Pitbull’s Twitter & Facebook contains ads: A rare look at celebrity social media marketing contracts

Rapper pitbull performing with dancers on a stage
“Pitbull (Austin, Texas, 2015-02-07)” by Ralph Arvesen, via Flickr Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 2.0

This week, after a long, contentious battle over making the contract public, the rapper Pitbull published his 1 million dollar contract with the State of Florida via his twitter account.

Most contracts between talent and agency are usually confidential, but because it was with a governmental agency, it could be public domain (hence the contention). What we do know for sure, however, is that it offers us a rare glimpse of one of these contracts and the role of social media advertising from celebrities.

Under section 4.3, Social Media and Email we find:

4.3.1 Social Media

A. The Contractor will provide Talent’s digital services team to make in aggregate a minimum of two (2) social network posts each month on each of Talent’s various social media channels. (e.g., 2 Tweets, 2 Facebook posts, etc.) in support of the VISIT FLORIDA mission to promote tourism; and including the social media hashtag “#LoveFL”. The manner and method of these posts shall be in accordance with Contractor’s organic approach to assure the authenticity of the posts and to avoid over-saturation (e.g., December may include myriad posts and January far less) and with due consideration of Contractor’s activities and demographics and to avoid any alienation of Talent’s fans given the general non-commercial nature of Talent’s social media sites. Where appropriate the posts shall include the presence of Florida photos in a manner consistent with Contractor’s past activities. The Contractor will include a creative written call to action to drive traffic to VISIT FLORIDA’S Facebook page (e.g., “Like VISIT FLORIDA’s Facebook page) when posting on Pitbull’s Facebook page.

B. Contractor will provide reporting that includes proof of all social media network posts as indicated above. 

4.3.2 Email Contacts

A. The Contractor will work with VISIT FLORIDA staff to drive social media and email traffic to allow an aggregation of at least 500,000 email contacts for potential solicitation by VISIT FLORIDA for tourism activities/information. The Parties will work in good faith to create terms, conditions and procedures to assure that collection of all data is in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations, including without limitations the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). All aggregated emails and user data acquired by VISIT FLORIDA in connection with Contractor will be shared with Contractor. 

What we can learn from the above:

  • It’s not really Pitbull posting on these pages. He, along with most public figures, has a “digital services team” posting on his behalf.
  • Celebrities get compensated for posts on social media sites. I’m sure Pitbull loves Florida, but the reality is, he’s getting paid to post on their behalf.
  • Some celebrity social media posts are ads, and they don’t want you to realize that. Reading the above, it’s obvious VISIT FLORIDA wanted the posts to be “authentic” and not come across as ads. This is an ethical issue for me, I’m not a fan of ads that are designed so people don’t realize they are ads. But, it’s prevalent with celebrities and social media.
  • The goal is to capture your information. VISIT FLORDIA’s goal is clear, they want to capture email addresses for at least 500,000 people for purposes of marketing to them. And they aren’t alone; most similar promotions are all about information capture.
  • And your information will be shared.  Not only is VISIT FLORIDA capturing people’s information, once they have it, they are going to share it back with Pitbull’s marketing team so they can also market to those people. This is very common as well.

Thanks for posting the contract, Pitbull (team):

I appreciate Pitbull’s team posting the contract. I think they saved themselves a lot of further public relations headaches by doing so and, as the title of this post says, it gives us a rare glimpse into one of these contracts.

With that said, what it shows is disheartening; there’s no more of an illusion that celebrity social media accounts are an ad-free zone. I think most people know this, intuitively, but having such concrete evidence of it public makes it hard to ignore.


You can have any feature you want, as long as you (still) only want one

Although it’s never been proven that Henry Ford ever said “You can paint it any color, so long as it’s black” when referring to the Model T, the legend serves as a good example of a snapshot in time, and a way of thinking about marketing and consumers. It was the factory approach, that didn’t allow for customization of products or services.

Today we talk heavily about the consumer being able to customize anything they want, but is this really true? Or are we only allowed to customize certain aspects that companies want us to be able to?

I still have an iPhone 4s. Partially this is because I value money more than the latest technology, but partially it’s because I can’t find the case that I want. I currently have a MossGreg case and I LOVE IT. I love the wallet part of it and I don’t want to give that up . But, as I’ve mentioned on Twitter, my iPhone drains battery like a chocoholic who found a Hershey’s Syrup bottle (admittedly, partially because of my use patterns). So I’ve been on a mission to find an iPhone 5s case that is both a wallet and an extended battery. So far, I’ve only found one, by an unknown company, with very mixed reviews.

The major iPhone case suppliers offer many different colors and styles, but they don’t mix features. You can have an extended battery, but no wallet, no waterproofing, etc. Basically, pick one feature, and no more than one.

If we truly believe that the wave of the future is customization, we still have a ways to go.

Social media isn’t free advertising

I regularly run into small business owners that want to do social media because it’s free advertising. In some ways, the statement that social media is free advertising is free is true, but, in reality, it isn’t.


Effectively using social media for your business requires strategy

Effectively using social media for your business requires careful planning and strategy. Often, people create a Facebook page or a Twitter account for their business without putting much thought into it. Although you may gain some “likes” or “followers” that way, it’s not the most effective way to build your brand and sell your product or service on there. In order for your social media strategy to turn into a brand-building/selling advertising tool for you, you’ve got to create an effective strategy behind it


There are a  lot of great books and online articles on how to do this, the top one I recommend is The New Rules of Marketing & PR



I’ve yet to see an effective social media strategy that doesn’t require careful planning and writing/designing posts and monitoring and responding/interacting in a timely manner. It is a conversation, after all, and how would you feel if you walked up to a customer service counter and had to wait there a week for a response?


Effectively planning, designing, writing, monitoring and interacting on social media takes more time than most people think and that’s where you find the “cost” of social media. Places like Facebook and Twitter may be free marketing and advertising tools, but time=money and, to utilize these tools right, you’re going to spend a lot of time working on them.


My advice

My advice to be effective but not have social media eat up all your time is to start with one platform, research and develop an effective strategy, and implement it.  After that is running well and you have a good feel for the amount of time it takes to maintain and continually improve it, move on to one or two more platforms.

Marketing music via the Internet, an ongoing evolution

My friend and I spent our Friday evening this past week at a Straight No Chaser concert in Houston, TX.  Their performance opened with a video of how to enjoy the concert. During that video, they made a point, at least twice, to encourage people to take photos and videos of the performance and post them online (tagging, hashtagging, etc. them of course).  Then, during the performance, they took photos of the crowd and asked us to go on their Facebook page and tag ourselves They explained that they had a limited marketing budget and social media was an effective way to get their message out.

Considering that the popularity of Straight No Chaser began when one of their members posted a video of them on YouTube and it went viral (see video above), it’s not shocking that this group has embraced social media and the online world as they have, but it is quite unusual.  Over the years, I’ve watched with great interest as the music world struggles to find the perfect balance with the online world. As it stands now, most musicians seem to tolerate online videos and photos of their concerts and some will even ask you to tweet your experience using a hashtag. But Straight No Chaser has taken it a step further by asking fans to actively post videos of their performances online.

Do I think it’s a good idea? Yes. People go to the concerts for the experience and to hear the music live. No video is going to overcome that thirst for the experience.  But is it good for all musicians? I’d say yes, but would love to hear your thoughts.

On another note, I chose NOT to take photos and videos during the concert because I wanted to just sit back and enjoy the experience. For more on my thoughts about this, read: Put down the camera and enjoy the moment.

Twitter, a good marketing tool?

I know I’m picking a fight on this one, but Twitter may not be the best marketing tool for your business or organization. I know this might strike you as odd. After all, you hear about Twitter everywhere and you see the Twitter logo everywhere, but here are my main arguments as to why Twitter might not be for your business or organization:

  • As of December 8, 2010, only 8% of the population was on Twitter.  For rural areas, including the one I live in, the actual percentage is much smaller.
  • In addition, Twitter has a large number of accounts, but not a large number of active users.
  • Twitter may not cost you anything when you are considering only actual dollars in advertising spending, but it does cost you in time. My general rule of thumb is that you should be updating Twitter 4-5 times per day. But, honestly, I fall short of this rule a lot because I simply don’t have the time to devote to updating Twitter plus doing other things I need to do. So, you need to ask yourself, do you really have the time to devote to this medium?

So think of it this way, what if your marketing manager came to you asking you to allow him or her to spend 30-60 minutes of their 8 hour day each day on a marketing program that would reach less than 8% of your market and in a program that very few of those users are actively engaged with? Would you say yes?

Twitter everywhere!

Undeniably, the average person hears about Twitter a lot.  But here’s my theory on why:

From my experience, the top four types of people/organizations that use Twitter are:

  • The media
  • Celebrities
  • Public relations/marketing professionals
  • Politicians

In comparison, in my opinion, the top four types of people/organizations that influence what we see/hear about are:

  • The media
  • Celebrities
  • Public relations/marketing professionals
  • Politicians

So, in following that rationale, doesn’t it make sense that, even though the actual number of people in the US that use Twitter is small the average person hears about it quite often since the people who influence our media the most are those that use it?

A good marketing tool?

So is Twitter a good marketing tool for your business or organization? Maybe and maybe not. What it really depends on is who you are trying to reach. Many businesses, such as food trucks in urban settings, have been very successful using Twitter to promote themselves. However, other businesses may not have that luck. My advice would be to critically look at your target market and their media habits. If you are targeting a group that, in large numbers, is actively using Twitter, then it may be worth using as a marketing tool. However, if your target markets aren’t using Twitter, then you might be much better off spending your time (which is money) someplace else.

Live blogging, a review

Picture of the Congressional Country Club golf course
The 111th US Open was at the Congressional Country Club. I covered an hour of the US Open via a live blog on June 16, 2011.

For my MSU Social Media and News Journalism Course, we had an assignment to live blog an event for one hour using Cover It Live software and Posterous to post. Below is a quick overview of how it went and what I learned in the process.

Local vs. National Event

Inspired by an FCC Report about the lack of local journalism, I was planning to do a local event, but quickly figured out that a local event would make it very difficult to meet the class requirements for the live blog, which were:

  • At least four links to online references
  • At least two Flickr images
  • At least one video (these could be pre-loaded into the software)
  • At least two Twitter streams

Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of local event where others would be tweeting or taking photos, so I decided to cover a National Event. After skimming the national front for interesting live events, I settled on the U.S. Open Golf Tournament. So, on June 16, I completed a live blog of the US Open.

Amount of Time

At first, when I read the assignment, I thought “Great! This shouldn’t take a lot of time because it is only one hour,” but I quickly found out otherwise. Even though I golf, I found that I needed to do a lot of research on the players, the tournament, the course, etc. to get me up to speed on the U.S. Open. In addition to preliminary research, I knew I wouldn’t have time during the live blogging to pull photos, videos, links and Twitter streams while live blogging, which meant I had to find all of that ahead of time and load it into the Cover It Live software. It turns out, between the research and the media gathering, it took about 4 hours to prepare for a one hour live blog.

Coordination of Technology

Technology is beautiful when it all works the way it is supposed to and frustratingly horrible when it doesn’t. One problem with the Cover It Live software I had was embedding YouTube videos into my live blog. I had preloaded all of the videos into the software, but during my live blogging, they came up blank. I kept experimenting and finally found that, if you put the embed code directly into the writing window, the videos will work.

The other issue I had was integrating the Posterous software with my Twitter account. I could get Posterous to post that I had a live blogging session coming up, but none of my actual live blogging posts, no matter what I tried. I eventually gave up and decided it was more important to focus on my live blogging than dealing with the technology issue.

Bottom Line

Live blogging was a fun way to cover an event, but it is time consuming and requires a good grasp of multiple software platforms and their integration features. If you are interested in live blogging, I would recommend practicing on some minor events prior to a major event where you want to make sure your coverage is flawless.

Post originally published on my MSU Journalism blog, Fit To Type.

Storify, a review

This week I tried the new online platform, Storify, to write an article about a severe storm in Battle Creek, Michigan. Storify, for those of you who have not played around with it, is a new platform that allows you to incorporate various web and social media elements, such as Twitter posts, YouTube videos, Flickr photos, Facebook posts, etc. into a story and publish it online.

Positives and benefits

Storify is a unique and easy way to include various elements found online into a story. By clicking on the appropriate icon on the left, you can easily search YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, etc. for various elements to include in your story. Say, for example, you wanted to write a story about the protests that happened in Egypt. Using this tool, you could easily search all of various outlets and find what you need much quicker that you would be able to by going to the individual sites. This is a journalists dream because it significantly lessens the amount of time they need to gather information.

Storify also makes it easy to incorporate these elements into your story. In the past, you had to screenshot items you wanted and then insert them into your post/story, etc. Now, with the simple drag and drop feature, you can include posts, videos, and other elements with minimal effort.

The new web platform also lets you continually update your story as things change and new information becomes available. Again, this is very important to journalists who are continually updating their stories as new information comes in. Storify makes this process easy and quick.

Probably one of my favorite features of Storify is the feedback mechanism. You can send a message to the owner of the content you incorporated letting them know that you used their elements in a story. This adds a positive element to the stories posted because the owners of the original content can take pride in their content being used for a story. That then could encourage those people to share it with their friends and family, which could significantly increase the story’s readership. Also, the notification encourages a feedback loop by letting people know that you used something of theirs. This is a common courtesy, even if items are in the public domain.

Areas for Improvement

Despite all of its positives, there are a few things that could be improved about Storify.

First, Storify did not work correctly with the latest version of Internet Explorer 9. The icon to be able to begin writing a story did not appear. It did, however, appear when I used Mozilla Firefox. I sent Storify a message alerting them to this issue.

A screenshot of Storify from Internet Explorer 9 with the button missing
A screenshot of Storify from Internet Explorer 9. There was no way to begin a new story.
A screenshot of Storify using the most recent version of Mozilla Firefox.
A screenshot of Storify using the most recent version of Mozilla Firefox. The link is there in the center so that the user can begin writing a story.

The platform is also only as good as the individual search engines for each site and the information on those sites. For example, I was searching for information on a storm that hit Battle Creek, Michigan. For Twitter, I was able to search for references to a “storm” or “trees down” within a certain mile radius of the area. This made it pretty easy to find information. However, because Twitter isn’t very popular in Battle Creek yet, information was minimal and most did not include the hashtag #battlecreekstorm. For larger stories in areas where Twitter is popular, I think this would be eliminated by more people using the site and using hashtags. For Facebook, it was much more difficult to find what I was looking for because Facebook does not allow you to search by radius or other elements that may narrow the results to what you are looking for.

The linear model of Storify was somewhat frustrating for me. I’m the type of person who likes to gather all of the information I want, and then spread it out in a way that I can look at it all and then make decisions of how to put it together (you can imagine what my living room floor looks like when I scrapbook!). With Storify, I snatched everything I might want for my story and put it in so I didn’t lose any of it if the content wasn’t there when I went looking again. But by doing this, it became a really tedious process to continually scroll down and up to see what I had and put it in the order I wanted it in. I would recommend some sort of “holding pen” for elements that is separate from the story.

Bottom line

Overall, I really like the concept of Storify and like the way the platform works. I think it will be a great tool for journalists and people looking for various elements to include in an online story.


This story was originally published on my MSU Journalism class blog, Fit To Type.