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Should You Pay To Outsource Your Social Media Marketing?

By Yaro Starak
13 Comments

You may recall I signed up for ReviewMe and began with a review of ReviewMe, taking advantage of their opening promotion to pay bloggers to help spread the word about the new service. My review was more of a discussion of the viability of bloggers being paid for reviews, which you can read here – Should Bloggers Accept Money For Reviews?

Since that review I have been offered six more paid reviews between this blog and the Small Business Branding blog, which I am in charge of as well. For the Small Business Branding reviews I contacted a few of the writers who blog there and offered them the reviews, but they were declined because of lack of familiarity with the subject matter of the review. In my case for the reviews ordered on this blog, I have either felt the subjects were not relevant enough for my readers, were too difficult to write about in an interesting manner or I simply couldn’t slot the review into my hectic writing schedule. You only get 48 hours to accept a review so you have to act quickly.

It’s worth noting that I have collectively turned down $750 USD in review revenue in a month’s time, which for some may not be much, but for me is still significant enough cash that I care, as I’m sure many other bloggers would too. The effectively hourly pay rate would probably have been around $100 an hour – not so bad. It’s also a sign that this service has some attention from advertisers, but I am curious how many reviews are making on to blogs and how much impact the reviews are having for the advertisers who purchase them. I’m sure the staff at ReviewMe are watching the search engine and publicity data closely for each completed review.

MySpace Bulletin Postings

There were a couple of reviews requested via ReviewMe that spiked my interest, but I turned them down for the reasons mentioned above. Yesterday I received a review request for a service that grabbed my attention, so I decided to accept the review. As per the ReviewMe policies I would like to let you know that the following is a sponsored review, but I think this is a service you may be interested in – in fact I may even test it out myself!

Social Media Marketing

Social media, love it or hate it, is absolutely booming at the moment. I don’t mean just the use of social media either – sure MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, Del.icio.us, and all the various flavors of social community based sites are rocketing up the charts as some of the most popular and traffic pulling (and distributing) sites on the web, but they are also garnering attention from people with big budgets to spend on publicity and advertising online. In the last few months based on the conversations, interviews, panels, keynote speeches and of course – blog posts – you will have noticed that the corporate world is taking interest in social media as a marketing channel.

Enter MySpace Bulletin Postings, a service that as the website details, allows you to purchase MySpace bulletins, Craigslist postings and seed message boards. Here’s how the site describes their MySpace service:

We’ve created a network of account holders who, between them have thousands and millions of friends. By having these multiple account holders place your bulletin it looks like genuine, organic buzz. Whether you’re a brand looking to drive traffic to a jump site, or a band establishing a following, our bulletin program is a way to spread authentic buzz to a large group of people.

I’ve heard of similar services and automated software programs that will broadcast your message into the MySpace community and no matter how “organic” it appears I am dubious and I think it will only work for certain types of promotions. For example if you want to advertise an upcoming gig for your band, I can see how using a MySpace “blast” to thousands of accounts would appear reasonably organic since the site is often used as a central site for bands, but if I was say, wanting to promote breast enhancement pills, I doubt any company could make that appear “organic”. This does make me wonder whether a service like MySpace Bulletin Postings has any qualifying criteria regarding what they promote – I would presume they do.

The other major issue with a service like MySpace Bulletin Postings is what the company that runs the social media community thinks of people using their site as an advertising channel in this manner. It’s usually quite clear in the terms of service for sites like MySpace that you can’t use automated bots to effectively spam users, but a service that leverages the connections of real accounts in the system may be more difficult to assess or single out, it may even be permitted – again how the promotion is conducted will no doubt impact whether it is frowned upon.

In the past I considered starting up a forum seeding service, and I have seen how effective this can be and understand why it works. I don’t like that it feels as if you are “cheating” the real users but content is content – if people value the discussion does it matter if some of the users were paid to participate?

The Benefits

If you take away all the potential negative issues regarding a social community posting service, from a pure marketing point of view, I love the concept. The raw numbers that sites like MySpace and Craigslist reach every day is mouth watering and most of the communication going on at the sites is very organic, very natural – it’s peer to peer – in other words, a ripe location for word of mouth and viral marketing.

Just recently someone suggested that the classifieds site Craigslist may be an untapped marketing channel for my business BetterEdit. Craigslist has become a central hub for commerce in many major cities around the world, and students in particular make use of the service daily to buy and sell secondhand goods. Since I target university students with BetterEdit, Craigslist presents an opportunity to reach hundreds of thousands of potential clients at no cost but the time it takes to enter postings. Or, I could consider paying for a Craigslist seeding service to do the posts for me – I have to admit that is very tempting. I’ve used Craigslist once before to gain a number one Google ranking so I know how powerful the site is.

I believe we are going to see more and more services like MySpace Bulletin Postings pop up and the risk is sites like MySpace may become diluted with too many marketing and branding messages – doesn’t that sound like something we already endure in our offline lives? Then again perhaps that point is moot – the net is already very commercial so adding to the noise by using a posting service may not make that much difference. I for one am interested in how good a posting service really is at achieving the outcome all business owners want – more conversions. If anyone has any stories about using a posting services like this, please leave a comment.

Yaro Starak
Social Media Commentator

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Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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13 Comments

  • Well ultimatly the idea here is the same as one behind ReviewMe – except that instead of blogs and readers you’ve got profiles and ‘friends’.

    I think this trend could be extended to any media, following the basic idea of “you know a lot of people, I’ll pay you to let all of them know about my product/service/name”.

  • Great post, great promotional tips. It’s an interesting question about whether or not businesses should pay for bulletins and the like. As you said, from a pure marketing point of view, it’s a great idea. I think the challenge is simply how does one pay for MySpace bulletins without looking like “that” company. Bulletins are an interesting channel because their power comes from personal endorsement. Making the bulletins feel sincere seems like the biggest challenge.

    Seeding forums or Craigslist feels like an easier challenge because they are less personal communication channels.

  • Thanks for an article, but please do care about print version of your articles. Nice, that you have done so much stuff for your site, have a lot of subscribers, etc. But, when I want to read something while I am on my way home at metro, I want a nice printed article, but your article is hard to print, and impossible to select in order to drop into word or something else. Iа you really care about the feedback, please.

  • Good point ideali – I have been meaning to place a “print this” option on my blog – I’ll get to that right now.

    Thanks for the feedback!

  • Justin – exactly, well said. It does feel “easier” on a site like myspace, but then again it also feels easier to get banned if you went and posted the same add in every major city on craigslist. If suddenly hundreds of companies started doing so then the quality of craigslist would drop significantly because it would be hard to sort out the “business offers” vs. the real individual offers.

  • Yaro, thank you for writing up such an extensive review. We’re honored that you turned down so much money yet chose our service to write up. Time will tell if our idea is part of the social media zeitgeist or not.

    To clarify, yes, we are selective about who we promote. For one there’s almost no effectiveness to advertising ringtones. Posts like that are ignored. We feel our service is best used by bands, companies looking to see something viral such as a video on YouTube. Imagine how much quicker a viral might spread if given a boost by our service?

    Without promoting just anything, we feel we’re keeping the credibility of our account holders in tact. Whether or not we’re violating the TOS of any company isn’t something we’re too concerned with. A TOS is not a law. There’s no reason for us to follow it. If you were hosting your site on blogger, built a huge readership and then accepted a paid review, it would be exactly the same thing. We’re just leveraging someone’s popularity instead.

    Right now we’re working with one major entertainment property which will be the primary source of revenue. We keep all of our clients confidential, of course.

    Thanks again for the review. I was equally selective in picking blogs for reviews and I’ve been reading yours for quite some time with great admiration. Keep up the good work!

  • Hi Yaro,

    Great post. I’m wondering from an SEO standpoint, what might be the risks vs the rewards to using a service like http://www.superexpansion.com/ .

    Regards
    Ant

  • I have mixed feeling about Craigslist. It seems that every post I have made on there is flagged for removal and I don’t post as spam. It’s just that so many people want to delete whatever they can, and on craigslist it’s easy to do that. Just hitting ‘flag’ once can delete your posting.

    As for MySpace, you need to be careful about what you post. I recently had my account deleted (with over 15,000 followers) because I posted a bulletin about a free contest where all you had to do was create a fan sign for my blog and you could win makeup or a book of the winner’s choice (winner based on highest rated). Seems pretty harmless, I mean it’s a free contest, and people are always promoting their sites, blogs, bands, and worse of all their bodies. We’ve all seen porn starts on there with a link to their adult sites in which you have to pay to sign up a membership or however it works.

    Yet, I was deleted because I was promoting a contest which is against MySpace rules. So be careful in what you are posting. You don’t want to lose thousands of your followers over a silly MySpace rule where they don’t allow a free contest to be promoted but will allow a girl to dress sexually suggestive with a link to her paid membership site. (I reported several of those and was told by Myspace they were within the MySpace rules and would not be deleted.)

  • Good point ideali – I have been meaning to place a “print this” option on my blog – I’ll get to that right now.

    Thanks for the feedback!

  • haha since I am relatively new to your site, I was going to comment on this article then I realized it was posted in 2006. Still a good read none the less.

  • It’s unfortunate that marketing, necessary as it is, can come to the point where it completely overwhelms other forms of communication on sites that are technically there to provide social interaction, eventually causing the marketing itself to become completely ineffective due to the frequency with which it is forcced on people

  • Thanks for such useful posting.
    Now the question of how to use social media for marketing is very simple and easy. All you have to do is just communicate with different social media sites friends and contacts that trust you. If they get any good idea there millions of them will pay attention to that as a result millions of people will be pulled toward your brand. Business houses have been blessesed with Social media for marketing technique to get proper exposure, create the brand awareness, with which they can establish a strong foothold in competitive market.

  • Good Article.
    Following are some useful steps to how to use social media for marketing that guarantee to get word out of it :
    Start doing marketing by setting up few pages to some social networking site like Facebook, Twitter, Squidoo, Weebly, Tumblr and HubPages etc. These drive extra traffic and link to your site.

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