Are brands getting what they intend when they pay their ‘social influencers’?

pay-for-play blogger

I don’t have big numbers to share. I have five anecdotal conversations – each with a CMO, or equivalent, of organizations ranging from $35m to just shy of $1bn revenue. Here’s the first. There’ll be more to follow.

This East Coast marketing chief paid $9,000 in total to get five bloggers to write two blog posts and a minimum of four tweets over a four-week period about their supposed adoption of a new tablet accessory. These tweets were then re-published as part of the vendor’s launch invite activities. Each blogger then attended the San Francisco launch earlier this year. That’s approx. $1800 each person.

Was it worth it? The marketing head, who’d identified the bloggers through a ‘social influencer’ database provider, was initially “ok with it, though we’d already known two of the five so we could have approached them direct. We’d have preferred to work with independent bloggers who didn’t need payment, but we were told most did, so we went along with it.”

“It felt a commercial arrangement throughout, with them having all creative control. That was a surprise. It felt like it was all give from us. The upside was that all four turned up at our launch, it wasn’t obvious to anyone else we were paying for them, and we could use their endorsements in our web ads. Financially it wasn’t a bad return for us, but I’ll definitely read their future posts with a lot more skepticism than before. I’ll always wonder if they’ve taken a payment to write about what they have.”