Monday, February 28, 2011

Do You Get Paid for Twitter Parties?

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Love 'em or hate 'em, Twitter parties are here to stay. Twitter parties are hard and fast online gatherings centered around a certain topic or, less desirably, a product. Throughout the 1-2 hour event questions are asked and answered at a rapid pace; chatter and enthusiasm run high in part due to sponsored prizes that are awarded throughout the party.

They can be fun, but I'm not a huge fan of these parties on a personal level. That said, I think Twitter parties can effectively generate awareness for a new product or brand and drive traffic to a site. I've only worked on a handful of these with clients, but to date the clients have all been satisfied with the results and learned a lot in the process.

The last time I worked on a Twitter party for a client, I arranged for a lead panelist and three supporting panelists. Each of these women was paid. They received a stipend for their time and efforts participating in and publicizing the event.

These days (nights), many social media moms lead Twitter parties. In the Social Media Moms and Money Survey, we asked how much people get paid for hosting Twitter parties. You can see a summary of the survey and the deck from our Advanced Monetization panel at Blissdom thanks to Esther and Sommer.

Individual responses ranged from "You couldn't pay me enough to host one of those" to "$50/hour," to "From $1,500 up to $10K" (that latter response from a single participant).

The average fee was around $550, but it seems to me there are two tiers of hosts- one in the $150 - $500 range, and a more elite group in the $1.5 - $3K range. (Based on our admittedly unscientific sampling, I'm tossing out the $10K number as an outlier. Math is more fun when you make up the rules!)

This leaves me with a few questions.

In my experience, a Twitter party involves several hours of planning in terms of client discussion and prep prior to as well as a debriefing after the event. There's also time spent arranging for and coordinating panelists, publicizing the event, and, of course, time involved in the party itself. Natch, any professional hostess will arrive a few minutes early and stick around a few minutes after. Oh, and let's not forget that it takes time to coordinate prize fulfillment, pull together a transcript and an statistical summary of the party.

Let's say this all takes a minimum of four hours all told (a very conservative estimate, IMO). At $150 a party, that doesn't leave a lot of take home pay, especially if you are passing along Uncle Sam his due.

So bloggers, one question that strikes me is that if you are really bringing it for a Twitter party, why on Earth would you charge so little?

The other question is: are panelists typically compensated? It seems that for a "lower tier" party, there's more love and appreciation than money to go around.

I get it. Though I hear sometimes even basic thank-yous are in short supply.

But for those parties in the more elite $1.5 - $10K tier, I'd think at least a token amount for the panelists' time (not to mention the fact that those women, chosen, no doubt for their experience, professionalism and, possibly their clout, er, Klout) would be standard in the momosphere at this point.

But I'm not sure it is. In your experience, what are the current standards and expectations?

My intent is not for you to call out specific individuals or organizations in the comments. Rather, my aim is to encourage open dialogue about payment expectations and standards in our space- something many bloggers say they want.

If you don't want to comment publicly, you can always email me money (at) moldofsky (dot) com and I'll summarize responses. You can also choose to comment anonymously.

Note: I differentiate Twitter parties from Twitter chats. Chats consists of established, but open, groups that gather on Twitter at a specific time each week and tend to be more content focused, examples include #JournChat, #gtchat (for those who work with or raise gifted/talented children), fitness chats, Latina blogger chats and dozens (hundreds?) of other topics. IMO, established chats are fertile ground for a thoughtfully matched sponsors.


Leighann of Multi-Minding Mom said...

I get asked to be a panelist all the time, but usually refuse. I have been a panelist once and did not get paid. It was a topic that I liked and was fun, but it took two evening hours away from my family. And I know that the person who was the host was probably getting paid the big bucks (and not passing any of that money along to us panelists).

I might say yes if when I was approached to be a panelist they offered compensation up front.

I also get a lot of webinar invites from companies and I have to say I have been turning most of those down, too. Even the interesting ones seem to be scheduled at the wrong time to work for me. I mean, come on, most of us have children (that's why we're called "mommy bloggers") so why schedule them during the bedtime routine hours?!

Companies want an hour or two of our premium time, want us to blog about it, and expect us to be happy getting paid in a little swag bag or a few coupons...if we are lucky.

Rebecca said...

I am so all over the map with this. I've been a panelist paid with product because I was helping out a friend, a panelist completely unpaid - again to help out a friend. But I've never been paid $$ as a panelist. This probably gies against so many things I talk about in terms of getting paid but I find being a panelist such minimal work that it's easy to do and help a colleague at the same time. I think it's worth it then.
In terms of hosting. That's a lot of work. And anyone who dies that for $150 is either not really offering the whole package of services pre and post party or really doesnt know how much to charge. Twitter parties are a lot of work. $1000 should be the minimum IMO.

Anonymous said...

I recently participated as a panelist in my first Twitter party. I found it to be totally stressful and not even a little bit fun, even though I generally like the fast pace of Twitter, it's different when you are trying to keep up with multiple conversation streams, are in a way representing a company or organization (even if not officially) and also are supposed to be RT-ing everything the host says.

Also, I got very little from the party in terms of traffic to my blog or new followers. I think people are trying so frantically to keep up and win prizes, they don't have time for a lot of clicking around.

I don't know if I'd ever do one again, at least for no pay. It's not that it's a ton of work, but it was a pretty stressful way for me to spend that hour before bedtime. And I did lend my name and credibility to an organization, which I believe has value (otherwise they wouldn't need panelists.)

Lisa said...

I have never worked on a party but if I were asked to I would have no clue what would be considered fair (prior to your post) and would never think to ask for $500+
I acutally enjoy twitter parties but enjoy the chats more. I find new interesting people and just enjoy having the time to chat with others. That said I rarely attend parties for products I don't already enjoy or want to know more about.

Miss Lori said...

I have hosted twitter parties for clients. They were fun, but a lot of work the way I did it. I was paid, I believe for my standing at the time, appropriately, (between $2500-3,500). Today my rates are higher, and I am even more selective, because I know that for me it's all in or nothing, no in between in terms of my energy and commitment. It can be hard determining your service worth, but if you don't place a value on yourself you are destined to be undervalued in the World.

Now, as a panelist, I have served both paid and unpaid. For my paid participation I have always received a stipend, and a thank you. For my unpaid participation I have at times received neither. Go figure. Why, when I get paid well as a spokesperson, would I agree to be an unpaid panelist in the first place? Because I take my role as a community member very seriously. I believe it is my duty to share my time and my expertise when I can, with others who are working to get their business going or to get an important message to the public. True, the lack of a gracious return could put a damper on my sense of charity. It could, but I don't let it. You have to lead by example in life, and that's what I am trying to do IRL and online. Don't let someone trample on you, but at the same time don't punish all for one person's lack of civility.




DrLori71 said...

Twitter party #product1 - $150
Twitter party #product2 - $1000
BackpackingDad's Twitter Party #WEAREYELLINGABOUTSOAP - priceless

TheNextMartha said...

I was recently asked to be a panelist on one of these twitter parties. First of all I don't use my twitter stream to promote products in that manner. I suppose if it was an item that I REALLY loved and felt compelled to do, then maybe. Doing it just because it was offered to me with a *token* payment? No thanks.

Ana L. Flores said...

There has to be a clear distinction between hosting/managing a Twitter party and being a panelist/co-host on one.
You are completely right that managing a Twitter party is tons of work, coordination and abilities. I´m also a TV producer and I associate managing a Twitter party with producing a live show. You need to promote it, invite people to participate, create a script for it, get all the panelists on the same page, plus show the clients some real ROI. I am hesitant to share dollar amounts here because I usually include Twitter parties as part of a bigger package (for my Latina Bloggers Connect business.)
However, I can tell you that I always include compensation for the co-hosts in every party I put together for a client. Every co-host has a role and expectations and deserve to be paid.

Nicole Feliciano said...

My current hosting rates are $1000 and I try to group clients to get at least 2 at a party (making it then worth my time).

I've been a free panelist before--but probably won't do much of this in the future unless for a friend.

I pay my panelists between $50-$200 depending on their level of involvement.

Backpacking Dad said...

I have hosted several Twitter parties, the most recent of which was #WEAREYELLINGABOUTSOAP, but the most popular (lasting four days) of which was #HomeHer10.

I do these for free because I think I'm funny.

LittleTechGirl said...

I am very late chiming in here. Kim, I actually came across your post because I am trying to figure out what to charge for one that I was asked to do. A Google search brought me here. :)

Ironically, I JUST got asked to be on a panel. I have decided not to because of exactly what is discussed here. I have done a panel for the same I think 2-3 times before. I was never paid. Although, I did receive product once (which took like 4 months to receive at no fault of the host).

We know that the hosts are being paid very well. But as a panelist we usually get just a thank you. I don't mind doing it from time to time though to help out. But I have to think and wonder if the panelist are being taken advantage of.

Carla said...

Id say Im late to this but it is all due to mulling my response. Ive experienced all permutations of this yet like Miss Lori said it tends toward the paid and profusely thanked and unpaid with nary an acknowledgment.
I am asked (was asked?)to be a panelist pretty often but usually say no.
For me it isnt really even a money thing but more a boundary issue.
I really try to only be online one night a week as that's family time.

Carla said...

this comment surprised me:

Twitter parties are a lot of work. $1000 should be the minimum IMO.

Lisa said...

I've been a panelist twice and did it for free to help friends out.

Haasiegirl said...

We just had this discussion over on the momdot forums earlier this week...appropriate timing.

A partner and I charge $2500-$3500 starting to co-host together.

Marinka said...

I can't stand twitter parties. I'm also curious why every time that I tweet an Amazon affiliate link I disclose it in the tweet, yet people who host twitter parties don't disclose their compensation, in every tweet.

Robin @ Blommi said...

I would say there are many tiers to this. An experienced party host with a vast number of followers should of course demand more than someone with little experience and a relative handful of followers.

I would not host a party for less than $1500, because in order to run a large party, an assistant & a few panelists would be needed, and they should be compensated. Their compensation would depend a good deal on the amount of work expected of them.