Should social media be paid for? IAB and WOM UK say yes…

December 8, 2009 at 1:19 pm | Posted in Ethics, Events | Leave a Comment
Tags: IAB, should social media be paid for, social media advertising, wom uk, word of mouth

Last night’s joint IAB and WOM UK debate, ‘Should social media be paid for?‘, was intended to be taken with a big pinch of salt. The two teams purposefully dug their heels in, ramped up the drama and pushed their views to the extreme to make the assembled crowd really question the possibilities and limits of paid advertising in the social space – but some genuinely interesting issues surfaced amongst the bombast.

On the ‘for’ side, Kate Box, Head of Social Media Sales at Microsoft Advertising, and Steve Filler, Commercial Director for Unruly Media, made the case that consumers don’t mind whether content is paid for. Brands need to act like brands, and they claimed that visibly advertising is more honest; paid advertising in the social space gets results, and is essential for the survival of the industry.

In the ‘against’ corner, President of WOM UK and WOM Evangelist at 1000heads Molly Flatt joined Ciarán Norris, Head of Social Marketing at Mindshare, to assert that paid media is, and should remain, by definition separate to earned or social media. Although paid can inspire social interaction, the independent social space is all about relationships, flourishing on a currency of status, passion, expertise and networking, and those can’t be bought. Interactive, digital, online PR and the like all have their place – but they’re not truly social media.

The votes came down on the side of ‘for’, but the atmosphere was lighthearted as both sides acknowledged that valuing one did not exclude the importance of the other, and that a mix of paid stimulation and inspired independent WOM and listening is best. For an idea of how an integrated view can look, it’s worth reading Neilsen’s Pete Blackshaw‘s recent post on Maximizing Super Bowl Advertising ROI in a Paid Vs. Earned Media Environment.

Some genuinely interesting grey areas also emerged. Where does inspiration end and payment begin, when brands are providing trials and freebies? Doesn’t the industry need to firm up its definitions so that brands don’t just think they’re ‘earning social’ by throwing a few interactive ads online? And isn’t it essential that brands don’t see social media attention as ‘free’ – more that they must pay for it in man hours for listening, responding and creativity, rather than cash?

If you couldn’t make it to the sold-out event, let us know your thoughts and questions below, and look out for future collaborations. What would you like to see debated next?

WOM UK and IAB debate: Should social media be paid for?

December 1, 2009 at 12:48 pm | Posted in Ethics, Events | 1 Comment
Tags: IAB, paid advertising, social media, sponsored conversation, wom uk, word of mouth

We’ve teamed up with the IAB to create a lively and provocative panel discussion. On Monday 7th December, 5-7pm at the IAB offices, 14 Macklin Street, London, WC2B 5NF, Molly Flatt, President of WOM UK and WOM Evangelist at 1000heads; Kate Box, Head of Social Media – Sales at Microsoft Advertising; Steve Filler, Commercial Director for Unruly Media; and Ciarán Norris, Head of Social Marketing at Mindshare will be debating:

Should social media be paid for?

Social media is not a marketing tool; it’s a public platform for conversation. So how does paid and sponsored advertising fit into the space – if at all?

At this debate we will be discussing the many issues that arise around paid-for marketing in social media. Is there a place for incorporating paid-for advertising and distribution? Does sponsored conversation have any real value for brands? Or does the true value of social media for marketers lie in independent peer-to-peer word of mouth and advocacy, inspired by passion not cash? Where do we draw the boundaries with incentivisation and transparency? Should we incorporate all of the above?

Our expert panellists will be looking at where social media fits into earned, owned and bought media, and where it should lie in the marketing planning mix. So join us for what will undoubtedly be an informative, entertaining and ever-so-slightly festive affair.

The event is FREE to all and there will be Christmas drinks afterwards while we continue the discussion, so register with [email protected] asap – we look forward to seeing you there.

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