7 ways brands fail at sponsored social

This article was written by Ted Murphy, founder and CEO of IZEA

Brands and publishers are rushing toward sponsored social at breakneck speeds, clamoring to strike a deal for a tweet, post or video. The space is still very young and many marketers are making big mistakes. Here are seven common failures that brands should avoid.

Fail to Scale
A handful of posts from big name bloggers or YouTube celebrities may create some nice content, but most times, it isn’t going to move the needle for medium to large brands. This strategy is very risky, like betting all your money on a handful of stocks. The market changes as does engagement on any given day. A comprehensive social sponsorship strategy should include hundreds or thousands of content creators, ranging from premium names to everyday influencers. This approach diversifies your risk and most often delivers the best bang for your marketing investment.

Fail to Persist
Many brands engage in sponsored social as an episodic spend, turning campaigns on and off in cycles, much like a traditional media buy. The problem is that brands are essentially jumping in and out of the conservation. They shout at the top of their lungs, then go silent until the next campaign. Sponsored social should be an always-on form of marketing, just like paid search. You don’t turn search marketing on and off every other month because people always search. You shouldn’t turn social sponsorship on and off because people are always talking — and I guarantee your competitor is looking to become part of that conversation.

Fail to Track
While social sponsorships provide many benefits that you won’t find in other forms of online advertising, one of the main challenges is lack of trackings, especially in cases when transactions are done manually outside of a marketplace system. Each post should be tracked individually to determine distribution and engagement. Brands should use this information to constantly optimize their strategy and modify their campaign participants.

Fail to Engage
Many brands pay for a social sponsorship then fail to engage on the other side of that sponsorship. This is a missed opportunity to create a dialogue, especially as it relates to long-form content such as blog posts and YouTube videos. When a blogger creates a sponsored post on behalf of a brand, the post is from their unique perspective with their own thoughts. The most forward-thinking brands will comment on those posts, acknowledging the ideas and becoming part of the conversation. This should always be done with full disclosure of course.

Fail to Repurpose
When designing your social sponsorship campaign you should think beyond the initial post. Is there a way that you can use this content in your other marketing efforts? Can it support an existing strategy or become a new one in itself? In many cases, social sponsorships are structured in such a way that the brands own a license to repurpose and distribute the content — so long as the original creator is given credit. Brands can use this content to create video mashups, blog posts and even commercials.

Fail to Share
Sharing is currency in the world of social media. When you pay to have a piece of quality sponsored content produced, you shouldn’t rely solely on the creator of that content to distribute it. Let’s say you sponsor a Viner to create a short video about your new phone. If that content is good, you should tweet it, post it, email it, etc., through your own channels, highlighting the name of the person who created the content. It will boost the credibility of the creator, and it will make them more likely to want to work with you on a future campaign.

Fail to Disclose
You can screw everything else up — but the cardinal sin in social sponsorship is failure to disclose a financial relationship between a brand and a content creator. It doesn’t matter whether it is cash, a trip or free product; if value has traded hands, it must be disclosed without exception. While the other mistakes above may be forgiven, nothing brings out the angry villagers with pitchforks like a brand trying to pull a fast one on consumers. Aside from the fact that you could be fined by the FCC, it is sure to lead to erosion of trust by your customers and a healthy dose of backlash online. Social sponsorships done right shouldn’t need to be cloaked in darkness.


Ad rendering preventing in staging

Ad position: web_bfu