October 26, 2009
Sponsored conversation has become an effective tool for companies that want to reach new markets or increase exposure within their current space. You can use this marketing strategy to leverage blogs, which continue to gain momentum within the search engines, in the media and among a growing audience of loyal readers. But, like any tool, sponsored conversations can be as damaging as they are effective. The key to using them effectively is in your approach.
Pioneers in paid blogging initially met with a surprising level of resistance from readers. This was largely due to poor execution. Today, major brands including Sears, Kmart, Panasonic, and Nikon are using sponsored conversations to take advantage of bloggers’ authority and influence.
Below, we’ll explain why paid blogging remains a controversial strategy even as more companies are using it to greater effect. You’ll also discover the unique advantages of sponsored conversations, including how you can generate the best results from them.
Why Is Paid Blogging So Controversial?
Blogs are widely recognized as a bastion of unadulterated thought and ideas. Readers are loyal in large part because they assume the blogger’s ideas have not been compromised by commercial interests. On the surface, a sponsored conversation seems inconsistent with this ideal. Compensating a blogger to write about your company suggests the blogger must forfeit his or her unbiased position. In reality, that is completely untrue.
The problem is that most companies that use a sponsored conversation to gain market exposure execute a poorly-crafted strategy. It is tainted from the beginning and does more harm than good for their brand.
How To Generate The Best Results From A Sponsored Blog
There are two secrets to leveraging sponsored conversations effectively. You will find both of them to be intuitive, especially when you consider the perspective of a sponsored blog’s readership. First, the connection between your company and the blogger should be transparent. Second, you must allow the blogger to speak authentically.
Transparency is critical because readers will revolt if they feel something is hidden from them due to the blogger being compensated. That creates a problem on multiple fronts. Not only will a lack of transparency hurt the blogger’s influence, but it can also create a public relations maelstrom for your company. Make sure that every sponsored conversation is disclosed as such.
The blogger’s authenticity is also critical. If he or she is unable to speak freely about your company, their credibility will suffer. Even if a post is disclosed as a sponsored conversation, readers will ignore it if they sense the blogger is not being genuine. That does your company little good. Let the blogger write authentically.
A Sponsored Conversation Melds Voice, Authority, And Marketing
The reason a sponsored conversation has such potency is because it lets you access an existing platform of trust and authority. Many bloggers attract thousands of loyal readers. These readers are influenced by the blogger’s posts because of the writer’s authentic voice. That authenticity encourages trust. If the blogger writes about your company and products, readers are likely to trust his or her ideas. They’re likely to act on the blogger’s recommendations. As long as the sponsored conversation is disclosed as such, you can benefit from the blogger’s authority and influence while promoting your products through the blogger’s voice.
Measuring The ROI Of A Sponsored Conversation
The compensation you offer to bloggers and the goal of your sponsored conversation will influence how you measure each campaign’s ROI. For example, if you’re using a sponsored blog to drive traffic to your website, you can embed pixels and trackable parameters within the links. That allows you to measure the number of unique visitors and the sales they generate. If you compensate the blogger based on a cost-per-click or cost-per-sale formula, you can easily calculate the ROI of that particular sponsored conversation.
Sponsored Conversations Can Increase Your Exposure And Sales
Marketing costs are rising with no end in sight. At the same time, consumers are gravitating toward blogs that are written with an authentic voice that encourages their loyalty and trust. A sponsored conversation gives you an opportunity to tap into those powerful levers to promote your products and brand. Despite the controversy, this strategy is here to stay. Major brands are already using it to reach niche communities that would be all but impossible to reach through conventional methods. You can launch a sponsored conversation campaign and enjoy the same advantages.
With 20 years in marketing, advertising and 10 years in internet marketing, Rostin Reagor Smith is on the cutting edge. Combining Social Media Optimization with more traditional SEO and SEM methods, RRS is a consulting firm specializing in enhancing clients’ online presence and managing their public relations online through traditional and Reverse SEO.