London Affiliate Conference: Social Media 101

Speaker: Andrew Girdwood – Bigmouthmedia

My first session of the day and it promises to be a really exciting one. Social Media is always a good crowd-puller, but in the hugely competitive affiliate space, Social Media participation has it’s pitfalls.

Here we go…

Andrew is a self-proclaimed geek and former affiliate. Currently working with a big agency and experienced in managing legal social/gaming issues, (particularly the celebrity death odds.)

Participation is underpinned by a required understanding of the law.

We’re starting off in 2000 when Lawrence Godfrey goes after Demon Internet and sets a 15k precedent for content host responsibility. Blame him…

Andrew himself had a client video removed from YouTube, due to a trademark referenced. Less than 100 views before it was pulled.

The Electronic Commerce Directive “ISPs should not have to monitor everything.” However in France Louis Vuitton and eBay are at constant war over fake goods. eBay does offer some policy (the VeRo program) to try to protect IP.

How does this affect You?

Blogs

Post moderation and pre-moderation. Post comment goes live, approved after the fact.) Pre – moderation approving by consideration, actually puts you i a difficult position, as you have complicity approved something.

Spartacus Order – anonymous comment trolls need to watch their backs. This order means the person responsible for comments must identify themselves.

John Doe: 18thc law. A court can still proceed without knowing the identity of a perpetrator.

In the UK, the  Consumer Protection Act. A financial interest must be disclosed e.g. if I chat on social media “Betfair is great”, then I need to disclose my financial relationship, or am technically breaking the law.

Yahoo! Answers example – comment in Car Insurance from a guy who gets a lot of thumbs up, however ‘always’ recommends the same insurance co. Naughty.

Gambling in Europe

EU free trade is fuzzy when it comes to gambling and proceedings take a very long time to change. One law is that there is coming EU tracking law. Opt out of tracking must be clear.

Other Effects – Google

The algorithm knows gambling content.

That’s the cautionary tale, now for the advantages.

Affiliates are not stupid

Affiliates don’t have a brand committee (nimble and flexible structure)

On average affiliates are 3525% quicker than brands to make site changes

Merchant Disadvantage

One client took two years to put a link on their homepage

One bank took one year to add an RSS feed to a page for a 10k bill from their design agency.

Another took 7 months to decide to use Google Local and 1 year to actually get on there.

Lesson: affiliate organisations are the perfect size, scale and mindset to successfully participate in social media.

Virtual Networking

Nimble affiliates can easily participate in Twitter.

TRAPS

Blogging

Blogger, Mixx, Friendfeed, Twitter, Twhirl – one blog can grow into so many means of promotion it is an easy trap to end up exceeding time spent “being social”. Do monitor your time against benefit.

Dumb Merchants

Andrew himself was previously an affiliate of New Line Cinema – When Lord of The Rings launched, they offered an affiliate scheme on a golden ring for £200 which got a lot of traction in some social media, (incredulity of price for a replica ring) which lead to a lot of impressions, high-interest. Social/viral effect can lead merchants to suspect some form of click incentive. Andrew got kicked off this particular program.

Biggest Tip

NEVER offer legal, financial or medical advice in any way, shape or form.

Also – careful when providing content related to celebs. If it is true = copyright, if it’s private = Intellectual Property.

Moving onto Gamer Networks and the Prime Candidates for Affiliate Social Activities.

Raptr is a perfect hunting ground for casual gamers.

Real-time in Twitter, links text ad links related to trending topics.

Outbrain’s Outcloud A great way to collate blog content into a social content form including thumbnail image content. Costs $10 a month, but huge potential for impressions and clicks. Highly recommended.

Also – don’t forget good old Yahoo! pipes.

In summary – Social Media is a world of opportunity for affiliates, but just be aware of the rules of play, and how social viral campaigns may not convert in the way that is expected by the merchant.

QUESTIONS

What about duplicate content?

Don’t duplicate your own content. Don’t push the same post to multiple distribution points. Check Google from a content dupe perspective. Make sure your post is live on your own site first. Establish authority of source.

PR are the sites good distribution sources?

Yes. Particularly if you can get something into Google News. NYT picked up a press release about how US prisoners are forbidden to play Dungeons and Dragons. Great story, which was picked up by the blogs already for two days before NYT picked it up.

About the author

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Nichola Stott

Nichola is Founder and Director of theMediaFlow; with over 10 years experience in online marketing, over six of which in search. Nichola learned all about search at Yahoo! as head of UK search partners.

2 Comments

  1. Zoe Sands says:

    Good overview of Andrew Girdwood’s session. Some very interetsing points regarding legal issues for affiliates, if social media is not planned correctly it could potentially do more harm than good for the brand and the affiliate partner. I would advise don’t apply a “me too” approach to your social media strategy, instead plan, research and resource your social media strategy before starting out.

  2. [...] More on dangers and legal pitfalls in social media here: Social Media 101 [...]

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