The Social Business News Wrap on TKGenius | Volume #29

How much is a “Like” worth?Like

About 174 bucks, according to a new study that was released this week. After doing a survey of 2000 Facebook users, Syncapse has determined the worth of the like to brands and it’s probably more than you’d think. No wonder they are all working so hard to get you to “like” them, right?

Syncapse looked at a number of major brands, including Oreo, Subway, Coca-Cola, X-Box, Zara, McDonald’s, Disney, Nike, H&M, Starbucks, Adidas, Levis, Skittles, Dr.Pepper and Victoria’s Secret. I think if you look at the brands they chose, you can see that many people probably have strong feelings about these companies for a number of reasons, which makes them good targets for this survey. If you have “liked” them on Facebook, you really do like them…

What they found out essentially, is that “fans” tend to be a sort of “super-consumer”. They care about the brand, are enthusiastic, share specials and other aspects of a brand on Facebook. They also spend more than non-fans.

“…Fans spend approximately $116 a year more than non-Fans in their respective categories. The clothing-fashion category had the biggest difference with Fans reporting that they spent $257 more a year than non-Fans. Coca-Cola and X-Box are the least likely to benefit from the difference with $29 and $24 respectively.”

So, fandom turns into money when you get the super-consumer, the Facebook user who really supports your brand, to “like” your page and shares specials, contests, promotions and so on. They become free advertisers for the brand, and not only purchase, but with all of these actions, encourage others to purchase as well.

 Using Journalists to Write Branded Content?

Have you heard the terms “sponsored journalistic content”,  “branded advertorial” or “brand-affiliated independent publications”? If you are creating content for advertisements, your site, blog or other online publication, you have probably seen the growing trend of using journalistic techniques to create content, or even used journalists to write content. The line between journalism and content writing when it comes to brands is getting fuzzier by the day.starbucks-advertorial

What used to be considered a noble profession, reporting the truth and doing it in an unbiased fashion – journalism; has taken a number of hits in recent years and I can only imagine that this new trend will make real journalism harder and harder to find and define.The “advertorial” such as the one above is all but relegated to the same sphere as link farms by Google. Not that that is stopping brands from trying to produce relevant content in a journalistic form that also promotes, or at least mentions, their brand.

One of the editors from Tumblr’s now disbanded “Storyboard” team recently did an interview with the Columbia Journalism Review. Jessica Bennett, formerly of such publications as The Boston Globe, Village Voice, and Newsweek decided to take a chance on the social media platform when they introduced Storyboard. She thought it would be interesting to work for a brand, but still write like a journalist. She says the only requirement Tumblr made was that each piece had to tie back to Tumblr in some manner. In the article she states,

“From the start, I worried that a company like Tumblr wouldn’t have the same commitment to journalism as a place like Newsweek,” she says, “but the idea of being part of something new, in a field that’s changing faster than we can keep up, outweighed any doubts. I didn’t want to end up doing a bunch of bull**** PR, and I think that’s the risk of doing ‘branded’ content at a lot of companies. But there are ways around that, and I think we found them.”

A year later, Tumblr decided to do away with Storyboard and Jessica had to come to terms with the way journalism, advertizing and the web now weave their way together in so many instances.

‘“I didn’t even realize how big the brand journalism thing had gotten until I got canned,” Bennett says. That’s when other brands trying to do journalism started to ask for her thoughts on the matter. Consumers are getting smarter about traditional advertising and marketing, she adds, and some companies are taking the unorthodox approach of directly employing journalists—whose ideas and copy they don’t directly control—to cover their brand or community. “Sixteen-year-old kids can see through some rewritten press release bullshit in a way their parents might not have been able to,” Bennett says. “Consumers are savvier, which is where I think some of the drive to hire journalists for some of this content comes from.” For reporters and editors tired of layoffs and buyouts, these jobs offer a middle ground between journalism and copywriting, a way to take home a decent paycheck without feeling like you’ve sold out completely.”

Are you using journalists to try and beef up your content with some real time reporting or are you going the traditional copy writer way? Are you branding your site with a mix of the two? If you are using a journalist to create content, how much do you push branding? do you leave that in the hands of the writer, or do you try and assert your brand as much as possible?

There are a couple of ways to look at this topic. On one hand, I tend to think using a journalistic style to present information can be a very good way to convey a message as long as it fulfills the following requirements:

1. It has to say upfront who is presenting the material. If it is branded, say so. (You’ll see this on a lot of blogs, if they are writing a sponsored post, it will say so, in most cases.)

2. It has to present unbiased information. Mention the brand, cover the brand…stop short of actively promoting the brand. If you promote, you are eeking over into the advertorial realm, and you just don’t want to go there.

3. If you do go the advertorial route, be blatant about it, but make it clever or funny – worth the read in some way. But really, just don’t.

4. Let your writer have as much freedom and journalistic integrity as possible and still get the product you want. If you believe in your brand, let it speak for itself.

In that pesky other hand lies the potential for promoting your brand and it’s story as real journalism, and that is just not the way to go. Leave real, hard news as news. Be upfront about what you are presenting, and it will go a long way with the reader. As Bennett notes in her interview with CJR, 16 year olds are able to read between the lines perhaps even better than their parents. People are becoming much more savvy to the ways of the Web and less likely to fall of an inauthentic presentation. If you try to present your piece as journalism and it smacks of pure PR, you’ll get called on it. You’ll pay the price in readers, followers, fans and dollars. You might even get yourself banned by Google

 

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