From the category archives:

Social Media Campaigns

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The thing about social media is that you don’t get to decide what the next thing is, or where people are going to go. Even if it’s to something you suspect might be the suckiest thing ever.

Perhaps I’ve mentioned my thoughts on Facebook? Suffice to say I’m not much of a fan of the whole thing, and I don’t really get it. But I know some of you do, and even if I’m not a fan of it, I’m doing everybody a huge disservice by not having some kind of a presence there. I’ve had a regular Facebook profile for a long time, but now I’ve also set up a fan page for ABDPBT so that I can: 1) share blog updates with the people who hang out there; 2) stop annoying friends and family who hang out there who don’t want to read my blog updates on my personal profile; and 3) explore other possibilities for using that technology as it expands for more possibilities for ABDPBT View definition in a new window and its audience.

If you want to know how to set up your own facebook fan page, there are various tutorials available by googling. It’s not very difficult to set up the page itself, but once you try to get it to do particular functions, it can be annoying. Facebook is buggy. This is part of the reason I don’t like it. For example, I spent a bunch of time making a graphic so that I could switch the default page from the “Wall” to my own page, which would be a graphic that instructed you to “Like” the page. Except, for some unknown reason, it doesn’t work. But only for some people. You can switch the default landing page on some pages, but not on others, and nobody knows why, and nobody at Facebook has bothered to fix it, despite people complaining about the problem for over a year on the Facebook support forums. That’s just bad, and annoying. That’s the kind of stuff that annoys me about Facebook.

But, having said that, I’m there! I’m giving it a shot. So check it out, and if you have any suggestions, please let me know. I will be eager to hear your suggestions on how to make life in the walled garden more pleasant.

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The Suggested Users Function (Find People –> Browse Interests –> Choose Topic) on Twitter is interesting: for various different topics of interest, Twitter generates a list of people that are thought of as leaders in that niche and, therefore, good people to follow. All of the people who are on the list — regardless of where their follower counts were before they were placed there — are now well over five digits. Have you ever wondered how they choose the people on the list?

I honestly had not given it much thought until very recently, because until very recently, it seemed that Twitter was more likely to reflect the findings of the blogosphere back at me, rather than the other way around, at least in my own niche. What I mean by that is, if I were to look at the suggested Twitter users in the Family category, I found that the bloggers listed were all well-established popular bloggers in the parenting genre. Twitter’s list included some of the most powerful and popular bloggers in the mommyblogosphere — not all of them, and not necessarily the ones I would have chosen — but many of them. A few did not fit the profile, exactly, but I guessed they ended up on there because they were particularly active on Twitter, and that some kind of algorithm had determined that they followed the right people, and that the right people were following them back.

Even if nobody wanted to admit these people were powerful, Twitter had decided that they were.

If that is indeed how the suggested user list is working, then that is liberating, because it functions as a workaround for the old boys network of blogging power. I like that idea. I want to believe that it exists. But, as usual, I’m a little skeptical. For one thing, there’s only a few people on the list that meet that criteria, and a whole mess of others who do not, including a few conspicuous inclusions with connections at Twitter. For another, there are some very conspicuous omissions from the list, if it is to be an inclusive list of powerful moms on Twitter.

Why does any of this matter?

Well, it used to be that Twitter reflected the blogosphere in that if you were big in the blogosphere you would be big on Twitter. To a certain degree this is still true. But now, it is starting to work the other way as well. The people who were included on the suggested user list whose blogs were small by comparison now have huge subscriber lists compared to before they were included, and they are now being invited to events they were not invited to before, and arguably never would have been invited to before they were included on the Suggested User List. This, in turn, is leading to more traffic, which in turn leads to more deals, which leads to other opportunities, and as we all know, this is how bloggers end up becoming “important” in the blogosphere. And actually, all of this is fine, except for the fact that I recently found out that Twitter is now going to start allowing people to buy your way onto the Suggested User list, which kind of complicates things a little bit. Though, to be sure, advertising is still a totally legitimate way of promoting one’s self in social media, whether it’s on Twitter, on blogs, or anywhere else.

Except.

Except something’s not working. Because, for example, take this account, @parentingmaven, that is a suggested user on Twitter, and that I’ve never heard of, who calls herself (?) a “Weird Blogging Mommy with lots of Parenting tips and stories.” Apparently, she (?) also uses a lot of unnecessary capitalization, and posts a lot of links to stuff that is useless, with no @replies. From all appearances, it’s a robot account, or an account run by humans who are not really personalizing things very much anymore at any rate. If you follow the link to the blog associated with the account, there are articles there, but nobody seems to be reading them. The only comments are from spambots. Of course, it is running ads from the BlogHer View definition in a new window Ad network. (Cough.)

Maybe this is just a one time thing. Let’s check out some of these other “important users in my niche” that I’ve never heard of before and see what they are up to. There’s @dailyparentingtip, a Twitter account that retweets stuff that other people post and links to a blog on which it aggregates posts that other people write about parenting topics on other blogs for which they do not pay anything; there’s also @pediatricians, which is “Managed by Web Marketing Expert Douglas DoNascimento,” because that is super important for us to know; and don’t forget about @amazingmoms, the site where Disney tells us about crafts.

People, this is without them even selling the spots yet.

Now, I know all this stuff is arbitrary, we all know this, that is the name of the game, of course. But some of this is getting a little ridiculous. It seems like they could clean it up a little bit over there or something at the very least.

Monetizing The Mommyblog, Brands And Bloggers: An ABDPBT View definition in a new window Personal Finance Series

Welcome to the latest incarnation of the Monetizing the Mommyblog series on ABDPBT Personal Finance. This Bloggers and Brands Series focuses on content-column pairings — the compensation involved, how the deals are made, and the pros and cons of each deal between a blogger and a brand for a placement within the content column of a blog. Since I don’t want to jeopardize any of these deals, I am striving to maintain strict confidentiality about the identity of both the brands and the bloggers involved in all of these examples, while still making the process and compensation transparent for people who are interested in arranging similar deals for themselves.

Case One: Baby Care Products With Established Niche Blogger

Below are the main points involved in the first blogger/brand pairing in the series, which involved pairing a niche blogger with a good deal of trust capital View definition in a new window with a brand of baby care products. The deal involved participating in a Twitter party, as well as several sponsored posts and giveaways hosted on the blogger’s main blog. The deal was brokered by a PR company, and the initial research was facilitated by a social media consultant who is well known within the mommyblogging community. The specific relationship between the PR company and the social media consultant and the compensation from the brand to those two entities is unknown.

1. Blogger Was Selected Because She Was Discussing Something On Twitter That Suggested She Was a Brand Match.

Blogger/brand pairings can be created through a variety of channels: the brand can be pitched directly by the blogger, or a PR company can come to them with a list of bloggers who are a good fit for their brand, or they can approach specific, well-known bloggers with whom they would specifically like to work. If you are not an extremely well known blogger, it’s less likely you will be pitched directly by a brand only because there are few brands out there that have the kind of personnel necessary to do that kind of research into brand and blogger matching. Few brands have the kind of budgets to warrant a social media representative, and so the only kinds of bloggers who regularly get pitched directly by brands are usually the ones with high traffic levels (though there are exceptions).

Bloggers of all traffic levels may be approached by PR companies representing a brand or several brands, and in some cases, they will be offering paid gigs. More often than not, what they will be offering is nothing. But you never know. In the case of this blogger, she had been writing a blog for many years without doing any kind of PR work (though she did run ads on her blog) before she was approached for this deal. She was approached after participating in an organic discussion on Twitter that suggested she was a clear brand match candidate for this campaign, but she was also well known in the community and had a significant amount of trust capital built up that made her a good “catch” for the PR company — she had never worked with a brand before and was therefore thought to be particularly credible.

2. Blogger Has Significant Trust Capital With Readership And This Brand Is An Unusually Good Match For Her

The choice of this blogger for this brand is an example of really good research done by the PR company working for the brand. The blogger involved has a particular affinity for this brand and because the PR company did their homework — both on the brand and on the blogger — they were able to match up somebody who was unusually well suited to this job. They found somebody who was already poised to be a brand evangelist, and then was able to pay her for her already established enthusiasm for a brand. This made their job easy, and it made the blogger’s job easy as well, because her readership already knew of her affinity for the brand, so reading sponsored posts was no big deal for them.

3. Twitter Party ($75/Hour) Was Rolled Into Bigger Deal

The first step of this deal was to facilitate/participate in a two-hour Twitter party with several other Twitter users (some of whom were compensated, and some of whom were not) while using the branded hashtag, under the blogger’s regular Twitter username. The compensation for two hours of work was $150. There were several people paid to participate in the Twitter party, but not all of them were offered the larger deal with sponsored posts and giveaways. Though the larger deal was never officially stated to be tied to the Twitter party, the paperwork for the larger deal did not go through until after the Twitter party took place; the blogger was left with the initial impression that the Twitter party was serving as some kind of weeding technique for the larger deal and/or that the paperwork might have been delayed in order to ensure that everybody participated in the Twitter party, because it was the least attractive part of the whole deal. Later, though, she said this was probably not the case, and that some alternative social media was always rolled into the deal.

4. Larger Deal Involves Two Posts, One Giveaway To Be Posted On Blogger’s Blog

The larger deal was to participate in the Twitter party (its specific pay was the $150 rolled into this deal) and to discuss one product line on the blogger’s blog in two posts. For those of you keeping track, that is about $675 per post, which is way better than you are going to get from most places willing to pay you for your writing these days. Of course, they are not just buying your writing, but we will get to that later. When I asked about how much oversight the brand/PR company had over each post, the blogger said it was very little. The PR company *did* look at posts before they went up, and they *did* make suggestions, but she said that they never forced her to change anything or asked her to talk about anything in a specific way. She also said that they wanted things in her voice, that this was why they hired her, and that maintaining that was essential to the whole campaign.

5. 2 Subsequent Deals Were Similar In Structure, Involved Other Social Media Outlet Engagment Rolled In

The brand was happy enough with the blogger’s work on this campaign to ask her to participate in two more campaigns for them. Both of those deals were structured in similar ways with similar compensation: 2-3 posts and/or a giveaway on her blog, and some kind of other social media engagement, either on Twitter or Facebook rolled into the deal. The total for the whole deal was therefore $4500 for about 7 or 8 posts.

6. Deals Like This Are Only Open To People With A Ton Of Trust Capital Built Up

It is important to note here that a big part of what is being purchased is trust capital — this is a blogger who has a huge amount of credibility that has been built up over the course of time. She has never done any kind of product placement or PR work on her blog before, and her audience has been established over the course of years of regular posting. Though her audience isn’t large when compared to the likes of Dooce View definition in a new window or Pioneer Woman, it is an audience that views her as a trusted friend, and that makes her extremely influential when it comes to buying things like products to use for caring for one’s child. That kind of influence is what the brand is buying, as much or more than the actual space on the blog, and that kind of thing is expensive. That kind of thing is also finite — you cannot make deals like this every other week and expect to have a supply that never runs out. Trust capital is tricky — in this case, it was a good choice because it was a brand about which the blogger felt very strongly, and it was a good opportunity with good compensation. Make sure any kind of deal that you are considering meets the same kind of criteria.

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