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 air- an extension of your station brand or your on-air personality. They also trust that you won’t 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 social media 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 you’re considering social media endorsements:
Make it clear that it’s a sponsored post or tweet. Your social relationships are based on trust, so don’t try to trick your followers or fans into thinking the tweet or post isn’t an ad. They’ll know you’re lying. Michael Brandvold, Music marketing consultant, speaker, author, expert and Klout Star, shares his experience on endorsements with 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 discussions starts you can talk intelligently and with passion.
I always tell a story of how [the 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 that someone like KISS would make, but can they do it in a way so their fans won’t think they are in it for the money. You can’t 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 the tweet is a paid endorsement. On Facebook, you can use parentheses in your status update to indicate an advertisement.
Follow Your On-Air Rules
Michael Brandvold also mentions that it’s important to accept endorsements you believe in, and this 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 when choosing to accept 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 the 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).
Don’t Do it Often
If you accept endorsements as a station or an air talent, don’t do them often. Your goal is to gain followers, not to lose them. Posting endorsement ads often won’t help anyone. Your listeners will be annoyed, and that’s not good for your brand or the client’s.
Do It Once, Naturally
One last endorsement option: If there’s a client you truly stand behind, share honestly online one time. Not disclosing that it’s an ad will only work 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.
If you have any endorsement stories or tips of your own to share, I would love to hear them. Leave a comment or send me a tweet @StephanieWinans.
This article was written for Radio Ink.