Sponsored blogs and social media mentions: good bad or indifferent?Posted 29 August 2011 by Sandy Cosser
The idea of paying for content, as in companies buying guest posts and social media mentions, is a very, very contentious one. It’s also not new. Back in 2009, Forrester published a report (that sold for $750, which is the other paying for content debate), which came down in favour of companies paying bloggers for positive mentions. The argument is that it’s no different to advertorials published in magazines and newspapers.
The report caused a slew of blog posts (probably not paid for) in which various industry heavy weights put forth their arguments for and against paying for blogs. Perhaps the most vociferous criticism came from Read Write Web, which said that the practice was a “dangerous and unsavoury path for new media and advertisers to go down”.
They in turn received some criticism but, very tellingly, one of their biggest supporters was Google’s Matt Cutts, who basically said that Google didn’t like the idea either.
Now, a new report by emarketer, reveals that nearly 50% of marketers have paid for sponsored blog posts and just over 50% said that they were open to social media sponsorships of some kind – like paying for tweets and Facebook mentions.
All of this is interesting because it shows how attitudes have changed in two short years. It shows how quickly marketing strategies evolve to keep up with the changing ways in which people use the internet.
Now, companies openly advertise buying Google +1s and Facebook likes. They advertise drip posting, which is kind of like timed posting, whereby a certain number of likes and +s are given each day, to make it look “natural”. All of this is done, by the way, from unique IPs, which makes it look even more “natural”.
These companies publish their codes of ethics, which they maintain are entirely compliant with Google and other search engines and with search marketing best practices. They abhor unethical techniques that result in Google penalties.
These days some very reputable bloggers and big corporations engage in mutually beneficial, financially rewarding relationships. Sometimes it backfires, like when they pretend that posts and mentions are wholly unexpected – when they fake the unbiased nature of the promotions. Open disclosure, however, is deemed perfectly acceptable.
A blog on Marketing Pilgrim looks at emarketer’s report and its implications. Apparently, a blog post from a reputable blogger with an impressively wide reach has an approximate value of $115, but the average cost per blog is between $30 and $50. The average value of a video mention is $112.46. Tweets and Facebook updates come have values of $63.64 and $55.16 respectively.
This strongly suggests that the returns are worth it the expense, at least as far as marketers are concerned.
We’d be interested in hearing your point of view.
(Image by ianv, CC by 2.0, via Flickr)