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Social Media Disclosure: Why It Matters

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Social Media Disclosure: Why It Matters

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While most consumer reviewers are honest and transparent, more bloggers and other social media professionals are increasingly posting content to cater to advertisers; and more advertisers are using content marketing and social media platforms to spread their brand message. When do you know the message is really a commercial? In this Power Point, prepared for Social Media Week Chicago, September 2013, Vice President of Content for Viewpoints.com. Carol Fowler explains the issues and gives the warning signs that content may not be as genuine as it seems. Viewpoints uses clear disclosure to let its audience know what is ad-sponsored. Carol gives examples of recent uses on Viewpoints.

While most consumer reviewers are honest and transparent, more bloggers and other social media professionals are increasingly posting content to cater to advertisers; and more advertisers are using content marketing and social media platforms to spread their brand message. When do you know the message is really a commercial? In this Power Point, prepared for Social Media Week Chicago, September 2013, Vice President of Content for Viewpoints.com. Carol Fowler explains the issues and gives the warning signs that content may not be as genuine as it seems. Viewpoints uses clear disclosure to let its audience know what is ad-sponsored. Carol gives examples of recent uses on Viewpoints.

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Social Media Disclosure: Why It Matters

  1. 1. What is the biggest problem in social media? (in 140 characters or less) @carolfowler @carolfowler #SMWdisclose
  2. 2. Social media is a symphony of special interests with the veneer of journalism. #SMWdisclose @carolfowler @carolfowler #SMWdisclose
  3. 3. My View of Reality • Manage content strategy for Viewpoints.com • Spent 12+ years as major market news director • Worked in just about every role in broadcast news and online • Active user of social media • ”No more tv viewers or newspaper subscribers are being born.” – BuzzFeed Pres. Jon Steinberg @carolfowler #SMWdisclose
  4. 4. @carolfowler #SMWdisclose
  5. 5. Social media has given everyone a platform. So… Will the real journalists stand up? @carolfowler #SMWdisclose
  6. 6. What is Viewpoints.com? --Social media platform since 2007, 1 million visits/monthly --Collect consumer reviews in 465 product categories – from mattresses to insurance to baby strollers to washing machines --Mostly female, must register to leave review, free to use --Advertisers can’t kill reviews or influence the order shown --A moderator reads each review --Reject about 1/5 of reviews submitted for plagiarism, poor quality, sound fake
  7. 7. Review sites under attack
  8. 8. Our content strategy --Editorial: Research articles to help people know what to buy. 700+ articles in past year --Expert Reviews: We partner with experts and bloggers to test manufacturer samples and products we buy --Custom Content: Advertisers pay us to c @carolfowler #SMWdisclose
  9. 9. Editorial Content Written for the audience and audience only +Rules of disclosure: Author’s byline Author’s bio (Isn’t that simple?) @carolfowler #SMWdisclose
  10. 10. New product reviews Written for the audience and audience only / Manufacturers provide product or we buy ourselves +Rules of disclosure: Author’s byline Author’s bio Disclosure at end of review
  11. 11. Sponsored Content Written for our audience at direction of agency / Brands provide expert advice, product info Types: • Emails • Articles • Social Media +Rules of Disclosure Treated like advertising
  12. 12. Sponsored Content Emails: •“Sponsored Email:…” front of subject line •“Sponsored by <brand>” in body of email Articles: •“Sponsored Content” at top of article •“Brought to you by <brand>” in lead •Disclosure as needed •Use of ‘No follow’ links to block SEO benefit to us or advertiser
  13. 13. (examples of social media)
  14. 14. Disclose That! Warning Signs @carolfowler #SMWdisclose --Review is entirely positive – no 360° view --No commenting / negative comments deleted --The author is unknown and/or has no track record of objectivity --Product endorsements are all they do.
  15. 15. Do I Need a Disclosure? • Do you have a financial interest in what you’re writing about? • Is your writing subject to review by an outside party? • Are you getting free product? • Was the topic your idea? • If you were the reader, would you appreciate knowing the backstory? @carolfowler #SMWdisclose
  16. 16. When in doubt, tell your audience Disclosure is seen as a weakness, an admission, something to be embarrassed about, apologetic for, an awkward fact that makes writing less worthy. REALITY: It makes your content stronger, more credible, builds trust. @carolfowler #SMWdisclose
  17. 17. Thank you! @carolfowler @carolfowler #SMWdisclose

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