How Brands Can “Buy” Social Media

This isn’t a religious post, so if you’re a social media purist, I hope you can have an objective viewpoint about what is happening, before deciding on what’s right and wrong.

Although many brands are launching blog or community based to engage in conversations with customers, many other brands are starting to participate by ‘purchasing’ their way into social media. The benefits are obvious; brands can quickly with often guaranteed results to their social media budget, especially if measured on page views. Yet the risks are also great as brands may miss out on the potential relationship building derived from employees talking directly to customers. For some brands, I expect this to be a supplement, and additive to get more milage, for existing social media activities.

How Brands Can “Buy” Social Media

Advertisements: Nothing new here, from purchasing Google ads, cutting individual deals with blogs that cover your industry, or going to third party advertising networks like B5, Six Apart, Federated Media, Glam, or any other emerging network such as Technorati Media, launched today.

Sponsorships: Brands seeking longer term marketing gains can sponsor a popular media asset and benefit from association with an affinity. That’s marketing speak for ‘we’re like them, so you should like us’. I’ve seen some sponsorships that make a lot of sense such as Seagate and Scoble (he creates a lot of media, and his community does too, perfect fit for a personal data storage company) or the variety of places GoDaddy has appeared within the web community. Media networks such as Rev 3, Techcrunch networks, and fledgling Fast Company are examples in the tech industry.

Social Media Optimization Perhaps the most nefarious, or least understood, is the opportunity to purchase services from SEO firms that have retrained their skills to increase natural search ability for your assets, get your content on delicious, stumbleupon. I know of a few brands have been able to purchase their way onto Digg.com. While some may be critical of this activity, the upside is that these brands really want to get in front of this audience, so likely, they’ll be pointing to something worthwhile.

If you can think of other ways that brands can purchase their way into social media (without having to roll up the sleeves) leave a comment below.

Also read: The Many Forms of Web Marketing for 2008. Also read the blog economy, with additional links to networks and vendors.