Sponsored reviews, paid blog posts, sponsored tweets, and more are not new to the social Web, and whether you like them or not, they can be a cost effective way to generate an online buzz and word-of-mouth marketing about brands across the social Web. This is particularly true when top bloggers and online influencers talk about a brand (whether or not they are paid to do so).
Despite the fact that in the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has ramped up regulations related to publishing paid reviews or endorsements (see the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 16, Section 255: 16 CRF 255), making it a requirement to disclose material relationships (no matter how immaterial they may be) and despite the fact that Google and other search engines have been known to penalize sites that publish sponsored reviews and paid posts, the tactic is expected to grow in the near future.
Consumer packaged goods companies are the biggest users of paid posts and sponsored reviews (25%) with food and beverage, health and beauty, media and entertainment, and technology and telecommunications following in that order.
It’s important to note that most brands pay bloggers and online publishers in the form of sample products (78%) rather than cash, although cash payment did grow by 37% in 2009. That’s because to get top bloggers and online influencers to talk about your brand, you often have to offer monetary compensation rather than just offering a free product, particularly if the product you’re offering is inexpensive.
Think of it this way, unless you’re offering a product sample to a top blogger or online influencer that they are really, really interested in trying and talking about with their online audiences, it’s unlikely that they’ll take time away from more lucrative online activities to test and write about your product. Therefore, offering a sizable cash payment, equivalent to what that top blogger or online influencer is capable of making in those other activities for the same time investment, is the best way to get them to agree to try and write about your product.
Izea is one of the most popular companies for paid posts and sponsored review publishers and advertisers with SocialSpark and SponsoredTweets. Both require disclosure from publishers and attract many top bloggers and online influencers into participating. Of course, companies can also approach bloggers and online publishers directly with paid post and sponsored review opportunities. Just remember, top bloggers are very busy and are unlikely to respond to your offer unless it’s worth their while and directly ties to the topics of interest to their audiences.
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