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Are Social Media Endorsements A Good Idea?

9-10-2012

Social media-savvy radio clients are inquiring about online endorsements, creating revenue opportunities for both radio stations and air talent. However, with opportunity comes responsibility.

Stations and talent have built online communities based on trust. Listeners trust that your social media content will be a reflection of what they hear on the air an extension of your station brand or your on-air personality. They also trust that you wont spam them.

A friend (and high-profile morning show talent) recently approached me with questions about social media endorsements. He is hesitant to accept sales offers for those endorsements, rightfully afraid to taint the delicate relationships he has built with his 20,000 Twitter followers and 35,000 Facebook fans.

Our discussion had me thinking of ways to get online endorsement revenue without upsetting the balance of trust you have with your online community of listeners. Here are some guidelines to help you if youre considering social media endorsements:

-- Be transparent. Make it clear that a given post or tweet is sponsored. Your social relationships are based on trust, so dont try to trick your followers or fans into thinking a tweet or post isnt an ad. Theyll know youre lying. Michael Brandvold, music marketing consultant, speaker, and author (and Klout Star), shares his experience on endorsements in the music industry:

Endorsements are fine, but you need to be clear that the post is a paid endorsement. You should also only endorse items that you do believe in, so if a discussion starts, you can talk intelligently and with passion. I always tell a story of how [rock band] KISS has never been afraid to say they are doing something for money complete transparency and honesty. But other artists I have worked with would say they want to earn the money like KISS would make, but can they do it in a way so their fans wont think they are in it for the money. You cant fool your fans or listeners today. When they find out you were trying to fool them, you will have much bigger problems to deal with.

On Twitter, you can use a hashtag like #Sponsored or #Promoted to let listeners know a tweet is a paid endorsement. On Facebook, you can use parentheses (Sponsored) in your status update to indicate an advertisement.

-- Follow your on-air rules. As Brandvold mentions, accepting only endorsements you believe in is an essential tip for air talent. Follow your own guidelines on whether to accept a social media endorsement; be picky in the same way you are about accepting an on-air endorsement. Your reputation is important, and you are the one responsible for protecting it not the station, and not the client.

-- Consider sponsored online content. Think about an on-air traffic sponsorship, where content already provided is tagged with a sponsor ad. Offer to create a similar social media sponsorship in lieu of an online endorsement. Provide your own content, along with a note that it is sponsored by your client. You can use content you already provide regularly, or create something tailor-made for the client (for the right price, of course).

-- Dont do it often. If you accept endorsements as a station or an air talent, dont do them often. Your goal is to gain followers, not lose them. Frequent endorsement ads wont help anyone. Your listeners will be annoyed, and thats not good for your brand or the clients.

-- Do it once, naturally. One last endorsement option: If theres a client you truly stand behind, share honestly online one time. Not disclosing that its an ad will work only once. Choose the time you tweet or post carefully to maximize exposure for the client, and write the copy yourself so it really is just you sharing information about a brand or product you support.

Stephanie Winans is Social Media Specialist and Content Curator for the Randy Lane
Company and Stephanie Winans Digital. E-mail: stephaniewinans@gmail.com



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