Product placement has long been a lucrative source of revenue for both movie and TV producers and promoters. Now that practice has muscled into the digital era in the form of social media sponsorship — compensating social media “influencers” for mentioning a product or service. And it’s rapidly becoming a go-to tactic for many mainstream marketers, a new survey shows.
More than half (55.5 percent) of marketers told social media marketing company IZEA that they had provided a social media user with some compensation in exchange for a mention on the user's social media channel, according to eMarketer, a research organization.
Blog posts and tweets are the preferred vehicles for sponsored messages among both marketers and influences, the research found. But blog posts are more popular by a slim margin.
More than half (54 percent) of marketers has used a third-party blog to spread their message, while 55.4 percent of influencers has published a sponsored blog post. Sponsored tweets ran a close second, being used by 47.3 percent of marketers and 51.8 percent of influencers.
When it comes to the payoff, influencers have a clear preference for money, the survey found. Three-quarters of respondents said they prefer cash. And while only three in 10 influencers prefer receiving free products for their promotional work, they also are unlikely to look a gift horse in the mouth — two-thirds of influencers said they would accept free products. Payment in the form of a discount or coupon barely nudged the needle with them, the survey found.
Measuring the success of social media sponsorship campaigns remains something that's difficult to quantify. But more than eight in 10 marketers said they thought quality of contentwas an important factor in measuring success, while three-quarters cited the importance of sentiment.