If you have an active social media presence, whether it's through writing on a personal or corporate blog, tweeting your life away, pinstagraming it or facebooking it, there eventually comes a time when you may stop and wonder: how can I monetize this presence, in particular if you have grown a vribrant community of fans, readers and followers? This question is even more acute for travel bloggers, seeking to make a living out of their writing, not just by getting free travel & expenses, but by actually gaining a revenue stream. One potential avenue is through SMS - no, not a short message service on your mobile, but rather: social media sponsorship.
HOW MUCH ARE YOU WORTH?
During TBEX in Toronto earlier this month, one of the first educational sessions I attended was one I did not expect much from, since I showed up without thoroughly reading the session summary beforehand: "Brands, Bloggers & Dollars". As is often the case when there are low expectations, I was pleasantly surprised to hear Ted Murphy, Founder & CEO, IZEA, speak of social media sponsorship, or said differently: how some brands are ready to pay bloggers and social media influencers to speak on their behalf to their niche audiences. In fact, according to the 2012 study by IZEA on the state of SMS programs, here is the estimated value of sponsored content, according to marketers:
Source: IZEA, 2012 SMS Survey
What stood out, though, was how there is quite a gap in how marketers and influencers each perceive the value of sponsored content. Two examples:
- If you ask an influencer, how much is a sponsored blog post worth? Average answer = $223.31 (vs $112.99 according to marketers)
- If you ask an influencer, how much is a sponsored tweet worth? Average answer = $178.11 (vs.$55.36 according to marketers)
That's a 2:1 difference ratio for blog posts, or a 3:1 difference ratio for tweets!
Another interesting finding that came out of this session was that sponsored forms of content are not just for celebrities anymore, as was once thought. Sure, celebrities can get thousands of dollars for a tweet or mention - heck, just follow the Kardashians on Twitter to get a better understanding, or check out this infographic! Indeed, marketers and brands are getting more sophisticated with their SMS campaigns and blogger outreach programs now often include a paid component across various platforms, as can be seen in the chart above.
BUT IS IT ETHICAL?
Some people have mixed feelings about accepting cash or products in exchange for a mention, but truth be told, it basically boils down to how the paid content is disclosed to your audience. FTC regulations require a mention that there is some kind of #ad #sponsorship or #paid content in the tweet, post or pin, for example (see visual below). In a blog post, it will usually be mentioned either at the beginning or end of the article, or specifying there is an affiliate link, if such is the case. Transparency is the key word, here.
Oddly enough, 62.5% of social media influencers who said they would not accept a compensation... said they would accept a free car for a year, in exchange for blog posts and tweets. I guess we're all negotiable!
QUALITY TRUMPS QUANTITY
Another key finding from this report was how much marketers say they actually value quality as their number one factor for sponsoring content:
Source: IZEA, 2012 SMS Survey
Traffic and number of followers are NOT the most important factors, coming in 5th position after other factors such as relevance, personality and community engagement, among others. Side note: I had never been approached for sponsored content before, but I actually received an email last week from a brand in France offering 55 euros for a sponsored post on a Caribbean destination (I also blog in French). I declined the offer, but thought it was ironic that I should receive this only a few days after attending this session!
This same study found that 61.8% of social media influencers have accepted compensation for sponsored content, while 31.7% would consider it, for an impressive 93% in total! Mind you, compensation does not always mean cash, as it can also be free product or service, coupons or discounts. But as Ted Murphy so aptly put it: we don't pay people with diapers, so why should bloggers be compensated with products only? Obviously, cash is the number one most sought-after compensation by social media influencers and travel bloggers alike.
Do these finding surprise you? Have you ever been approached for some kind of compensation for a tweet, blog post or other content?
Click here for a full copy of the report - no, this is not an affiliate link, nor did I get any compensation for this post