Izea drops cost of sponsored post to $1

Just received an interesting email from Izea about Oppapalooza:

As you know we recently made some changes to the PayPerPost platform. While the feedback regarding our interface refinement has been great, we have also received some concerns relating to our pricing adjustments. I am sensitive to your pricing feedback and would like to try a new model for a limited time. My hope is that we will find a balance that works financially for advertisers, bloggers and IZEA. With that in mind, we have made the following changes:

– Minimum total cost per post reduced to $1.00
– Minimum word count reduced to 25 words with a link only option

That’s a pretty interesting development which is being pushed out till the end of the month allowing Izea to test the water with this “micro-payperpost” idea. My biggest concern is that this will affect the quality of the blogging network as it minimises the amount of effort people put into posting. On a positive note, it might also encourage new advertisers to try the medium out.

So, if you want to earn $1 for writing a sponsored post, click on the image above (disclosure: that’s my referral link) and sign up (referrals are still $15 each as far as I’m aware. If, on the other hand you want to try to buy some sponsored posts to see if it helps your online presence, here’s a signup sheet:

I’ll be interested to see the results of this experiment.

Izea gets leaner and meaner

IZEA Blogger Advisory Board Dinner
Image by Wendy Piersall via Flickr

I came across a post on Izea’s blog talking about their latest release to their PayPerPost platform. Here’s what Ted (IZEA’s CEO) said:

When SocialSpark launched we adjusted its margins to create a model that would be profitable for the company. The model works and provides a clear path for the future. Meanwhile, PPP has been canceling out what we’ve gained in contribution from SocialSpark. Today we are adjusting the margins in PPP to match that of SocialSpark. Both systems will now have a 50/50 split between IZEA and the blogger, recognizing the value each of us brings to the table.

It’s also interesting to see that they also announced that they will be closing the doors on Zookoda, a service designed for bloggers to send out daily, weekly or monthly summary of your latest blog posts directly into their visitors inbox citing the fact that it wasn’t economically viable to keep it running. This has sparked a spate of comments from regular users who frankly will be left out in the cold. Izea (who were called PayPerPost back then) acquired Zookoda in April 07 citing they were “confident Zookoda’s capabilities will be of great help to our family of PayPerPost bloggers.” There is no doubt the service is a great help to bloggers but there may have been a shift in Izea’s outlook and priorities.

I suspect that these moves are a sign that Izea’s honeymoon period is over and time has come to focus on their key deliverables. I’ve always maintained that there was too much focus on bloggers and not enough on advertisers and this probably is a move to address that failing. It is a shame about Zookoda however, as Izea seem to be treating this as a cost centre rather than an asset that can produce positive contribution by strengthening their blogger base.

On those lines, it’s interesting to see Izea handle online campaigns for Ford, Kmart and Sears, particularly with Chris Brogan doing a sponsored post for Kmart and the subsequent flash fire that generated. The one thing I can say, is that whether you’re selling baby shower gifts or balloons over the internet, user-generated content is here to stay and it’s only getting more prevalent.

Leveraging Social Media

What do all these people love?

Yup, you guess it, we’re all big fans of Pringles. Ted Murphy from Izea posted to Twitter that he was looking for some Pringlish pictures for his presentation at Cincinnati AMA Digital Marketing Summit and he got responses from Drew, Corrin, Connie and yours truly. It was great fun to do and Ted’s presentation went very well. Here are some comments from the blogosphere:

From: R.O. Why! Marketing:

Ted gave some very helpful pointers on how to get started in the maze of social media opportunities.  While we’re all caught up in traditional brand development and the interactive marketing programs we’ve always done, there’s an entire ecosystem out there right now of consumers, fans, critics and their conversations that happen whether we participate or not.  It’s time to get involved, and to start influencing the conversation.

My key takeaways:

  1. Start listening -What is currently being said?
  2. Create some goals for your social media efforts
  3. Determine what content you can draw from -Text, video, photos, audio, etc.
  4. Find content you can capture -Customers, partners, employees
  5. Decide what you’re willing to share
  6. Choose your platforms
  7. Participate in other conversations, don’t just broadcast -The most important conversations may not be those you start.  Seek out conversations about your brand & add value to them.
  8. Create your own storm of social media content

Really great event, and I think Ted’s talk helped make some sense out of the social media storm, and gave everyone a few clear steps to getting involved.

From The Future Value of Business:

Ted’s message about blogging was all about making a personal connection with your customers. Blogging allows a company to show its human side. A company no longer has to be just a name and a logo. A company blog shows your customers the passion, excitement and intelligence of the employees who contribute to the blog. The company now has feeling and a pulse. The company can now show their customers that employees are engaged, content, and willing to share their work experiences. Great Companies inspire Great Work.

From Pimp My Keywords:

His topic, “The Social Media Symphony” was subtitled “Harness the power of social media to drive traffic and sales.”

Far too many people are unaware of what social media means and Murphy explained it well pointing out that social media is a platform and distribution channels that provide scale to reach millions of people.

Consider this: Murphy said five years ago only a few people would have viewed a video of him snoring in the backseat of a car. Today, however, that video can be easily viewed by millions of people. The potential is unlimited.

Today, with Web 2.0, the difference is “social” and is now about people, conversations, interaction and community. A huge difference.

According to Murphy, the way social media works is to “listen.”

Listen for mentions of your company or brands. Understand what your customers are saying.

Listen for mentions of your competitors. And, listen for mentions of subjects related to your industry.

These “conversations” are happening at:

  • Facebook
  • Friendfeed
  • Twitter
  • Utterz
  • Plurk
  • Brightkite
  • Tailrank
  • Techmeme
  • Digg
  • Google Blog Search
  • Technorati
  • CoComment

Murphy added that once you have located a discussion, you need to conduct your research (Who started the conversation? What is their relationship with your firm? What is their goal?), then determine your goal and never ever go straight into a sales pitch.

While social media does take time (and who has “time” these days?), you have to start somewhere and do what you can to get involved and participate.

Sounds like it was a great talk. I wonder if the slides are available for download anywhere.

Cutest Kid @ FuelMyBlog

Kevin down at FuelMyBlog is running a competition together with TheCuteKid, a website that holds a monthly competition to find the cutest kid culminating in “The Cutest Kid of the Year 2008” with a $25,000 college tuition fund. Anyway, while reading about the competition I saw a cool slideshow he created with slide.com; and as I’m always a big fan of tools that allow users to create content, I popped down to have a look. I used it to create a competition entry using Arthur as my subject .. after all, he is the cutest kid on the Internet. Have a peep:

With looks like those .. he’s bound to go far! Arthur sat next to me during the whole process, choosing the photos (we have over 6000 photos in our collection now, ranging from mistaken photos of the floor, to incriminating photos of Arthur reaching for a tub of Curvelle, to some amazing shots my wife took), uploading them, messing with the options and producing the final display. Throughout the whole thing he kept pointing at the screen and saying “Atter” then pointing at himself and saying “Me”. He did take the occasional break pointing at me and saying “Daddy”, but he was pretty happy seeing himself on my laptop. Now if that isn’t the cutest thing for a kid who’s just turned 2, I don’t know what is!

User Generated Christmas Content

This Christmas has been pretty innovative for a lot of people. Not for me, as I spent most of my time away from home visiting family in Malta. However, getting back to the office, I’ve found a huge selection of custom-made eCards, greeting movies and other visual treats which have been created by friends, family and colleagues.

Here are some treats:

The great thing about UGC (User Generated Content) is that it’s always fresh and relevant; and therefore a great vehicle for marketeers to associate their products with (note the Diet-Pepsi sponsored Snowball Fight on JibJab). The examples above also demonstrate how technology is becoming more and more available. A few years ago you’d have needed to devote developer effort to producing the eye candy above, nowadays you just need to specify a few options, upload your photos and off you go. If you haven’t tried it out, pop down to JibJab and try it yourself.

Plan your perfect trip

What do you get if you cross a travel site and a social networking site?RealTravel is the answer. It’s a travel site which encourages it’s viewers to submit blog entries about their travels, what they enjoyed and what they hated and their recommendations for other travelers. And the great thing about user-generated content is that it tends to be more sincere than marketing material by a country’s tourism office or entertainment industry.

The site also allows you to plan your trip, by creating an online itinerary and adding different destinations to it. You do this as you browse through the site reading about each place. Once you’ve created a perfect holiday you can then share it with other readers, again, more user-generated content.

Finally, the site also allows travelers to create their own travel blog. This can be a great way to capture your experiences in one place, together with pictures and video and anything else you want to add. Your experiences then help inform future travelers and help them plan their travel.

Check it out.

Interactive Marketing

What’s the best way to generate buzz around your products and services? You can spend millions on media advertising, or you get focus directly on your target segment and let the grapevine do it’s work. Not sure what I mean? Check out the video* below:

It’s called PayPerPost Postie Patrol and has been organised by PayPerPost, a company bringing together an active blogging community in a marketplace receptive to marketeers everywhere. HP basically put together a cache of prizes, PayPerPost found a punter ready to go on a treasure hunt for it; and together they braved a -9 Chicago morning to win some prizes. The video has already been watched by around 4000 people and has doubtlessly been shared countless times around the Web. So, for a modest outlay, the advertiser has managed to reach a highly relevant target and generate priceless positive buzz around their products.

Interesting to note is that the advertising focus is not on the technical strengths and usability of their products (in a mature market, these traits are easily copies and superseded); but instead how much fun they are to use and what value they bring when you’re using them. In fact, we are not even told what model of camera is being used, instead we are exposed to what a “fun” company HP is, but providing these toys for us to play with.

This video was brought to you by HP, the home of Digital Photo Printing