Gia Kashyap, 22, loves fashion. She's also into blogging. Her tips on the latest trends and make-up brands have earned her a dedicated following of more than 6,000. Which is why it makes perfect sense for fashion brands to have her promote their products — and pay her handsomely for it.
Like Gia, scores of college students active on the social network are finding that their hobby can actually be a well-paying job. They are the new celebrities, endorsing everything from beauty products to cellphone schemes, television shows to films.
"I get paid for my honest views," says Gia, who recently earned Rs. 6,000 for promoting a fashion brand.
Since April, posting 40 characters on Twitter has helped Neil D'Souza, 19, pay for his movie tickets and restaurant bills. The second year mass media student has more than 200 followers and this has got him several endorsement offers.
"I easily make around Rs. 3,000 a month," says Neil, who promoted a mobile network campaign last month.
"Since I have a smartphone, I can stay connected, tweet and re-tweet through the day."
"Typically, celebrities are used to promote campaigns and products. However, by helping common users monetise their tweets, companies are able to reach out to a larger number of potential customers," says Sameer Pitalwalla, director, video and celebrity, Interactive, Disney UTV, which launched a sponsored tweeting advertising initiative last year.
Social media analysts call this phenomenon "horizontal branding", and say it's a good model to directly connect advertisers with potential customers.
"The people-to-people approach of social media forums has helped brands reach out to their end users," says brand analyst Santosh Desai. "From the students' perspective, it is a good opportunity to make use of their already existing time on social networking to make extra pocket money."