On 2nd March, 2009 Forrester released an independent report on Sponsored Conversations, looking into series of effective outcome of social media marketing campaigns run by Kmart, Panasonic, etc. through IZEA(a leading social media marketing company) and others. The report summarizes as,
Kmart gave some bloggers a free shopping spree in exchange for a blog post about the experience — a practice we call sponsored conversation. With appropriate protections for disclosure and authenticity, this practice will take its place alongside public relations and advertising activities in the blogosphere. Marketers should take advantage of sponsored conversation as an entrée into the online conversation. To succeed, you should get to know the bloggers you plan to work with and set expectations across your organization.
courtesy: Forrester Research, Inc.
So, it is a positive approach of Forrester to Marketers to go ahead with Sponsored Conversation or Sponsored Post. From the voice of Josh Bernoff, author of Groundswell it’s more clear that Sponsored Conversation has some weight and comes in between of PR and advertising.
When you look at sponsored conversation in context, you can see it fits into a nice spot in the groundswell between PR and advertising. In PR, you try to get a blogger to talk about you, but your chances of success are hit or miss. In advertising, you can be sure to get a placement, but it’s not in the blogger’s voice. Sponsored conversation — paying a blogger to write about your product — fits in the middle — it guarantees a post, and it’s in the blogger’s voice.
Although, all this things are happening amidst some ongoing controversy about Sponsored Post[link-1, link-2, link-3, link-4]. And that is why Josh Bernoff started his post(“Why sponsored conversation — aka paid blog posts — can make sense”) writing with, “I’m ready to weigh in one a very controversial topic: is it ethical and appropriate to pay bloggers to post about your products?”.
So, bloggers and marketers can’t thrown away the debate on Sponsored Post, and that’s why Forrester has mandated marketers to follow some instructions (How To Do Sponsored Conversations Effectively) before going ahead with Sponsored Conversation and also directed to “Look out For Pitfalls“. More focus is given in the report on transparency, I mean on disclosure—that the post is been sponsored by some company.
Now, it’s time to see whether the controversy still continues or not, because Forrester has already predicted “A new Industry is Born”.