Comming to a Blog Near You, Sponsored Conversations 4

In an earlier post this week, which looked at how marketers are failing to reach Generation Y with social ads, I mentioned the growing opportunity for PR and social media within social networks. At the time, I hadn’t had the opportunity to read through the report that Forrester put out this week on “Sponsoring Conversations.”

The report by Sean Corcoran, essentially gave the green light for marketers to sponsor blog conversations, albeit with certain guidelines. Debate has been growing around this topic ever since Edelman’s missteps with the Wal-Marting Around America campaign. However, corporations, social media marketing companies, bloggers and PR agencies have gotten better at being fully transparent in disclosing the next wave of these campaigns – and they’ve been successful.

The Forrester report points to a recent case (highlighted in the links above) where Kmart gave free shopping sprees to bloggers including Chris Brogan and Joseph Jaffe in exchange for “sponsored posts” about their experience with the brand. Brian Morrissey of AdWeek wrote about an additional example of a successful case study – he called it advertorial 2.0 – that Panasonic utilized (with Jaffe) at CES this year.

I’m in agreement with the folks from Forrester (including Josh Bernoff and Jeremiah Owyang), Morrissey, Jaffe and Brogran – these “sponsored conversations” are here to stay. However, the onus is going to fall on us (leading edge PR / social / marketing firms) to make sure they are carried out with full disclosure and the right intentions.

Here’s a great breakdown from Forrester which illustrates how “Sponsored Conversations” include both PR and advertising aspects – in addition to explaining why recent campaigns have been successful.

Steve Rubel, who does point out that he hopes everyone brings their ethical A-games to this new field, also raises a somewhat contrarian point – these programs aren’t that different from the the pay-for-play advertorials we see in print, on TV and on radio.

They really aren’t, they’re just a new medium to get used to. As long as those implementing these programs follow the below guidelines that Forrester outlines, they’ll be an integral part of future campaigns moving forward.

  1. Mandate disclosure
  2. Ensure freedom of authenticity
  3. Partner with popular blogs that are relevant to your brand
  4. Don’t talk and then walk away
  5. Make sure blogging fits with your objectives
  6. Use metrics that work with blogs
  7. Prepare your marketing management
  8. Be quick to respond

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4 thoughts on “Comming to a Blog Near You, Sponsored Conversations

  • Joop

    Jospeh Jaffe certainly loves a bit of pay to play. The thing is, his desire for cash has diluted his credibility to the extent that paid posts by him for advertisers carry no persuasive weight (infact quite the opposite).

  • Kyle Austin Post author

    Interesting point Joop. I wish Joseph would weigh in here? We’re working on an influencer scorecard at Racepoint with the goal of putting guidelines in place for measuring an individual blogger’s influence. I think it will be interesting to note how a blogger’s influence may be negatively effected by participating within these sponsored conversations. Should brands shy away from blogger’s that have done them in the past and focus on being the first sponsored conversation with a blogger who hasn’t done them? Something we should track.