How to build relationships with social content creators
A key element that makes earned media trustworthy for many consumers is that it can’t be bought—it represents someone’s sincere opinion. The authenticity of word-of-mouth has been scaled up by social media and other online tools, but it appears many social content publishers are willing to form relationships with marketers that would move their endorsements from the “earned” to the “paid” column.
Social media advertising company IZEA surveyed Twitter users, blog writers and other social media publishers about their openness to sponsorship of their social content. More than half said they had already monetized their activities, and almost a third more wanted to. Overall, 71.3% had been offered some kind of incentive, like cash, free products or coupons, for a blog post or tweet promoting a brand.
Most sponsorships were direct compensation for a specific post or series of posts, but about half of respondents had also been offered free product without a requirement to write about it. Blog posts and Twitter updates were the most common venues for sponsored social media activity.
The social media publishers surveyed valued their efforts at an average of $179 per blog post and $124 per tweet, and marketers that want to form relationships with these content creators should note that they prefer cash. Most respondents also considered free product acceptable, but discounts and coupons in place of more direct compensation were widely disliked. A September post on the mom blog ModernMami.com complained about the disrespect inherent in many such offers: Blogging takes effort, and a blogger’s time and credibility are worth more than a few dollars’ savings in coupons.
In December 2009, the US Federal Trade Commission released new guidelines designed to protect readers of social media content from undisclosed sponsorships, but according to the IZEA survey more than a third of PR, social media and marketing professionals have not heard of the rules at all. Only 29.9% said they had read and understood them. The FTC has maintained it would not go after individual bloggers, but the marketers that sponsor them must be responsible for the partnerships they create.
Overall, PQ Media estimated in May 2010 that $56.8 million would be spent on social media sponsorships in the US, most of which would be in the form of noncash compensation.
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Check out today’s other article, “Strong Growth for Local Online Advertising.”