Friday, May 30, 2008

SocialSpark

I learned about SocialSpark recently and had an opportunity to chat for a bit with the company's CEO Ted Murphy and learn more about the concept of being sponsored to produce content for your blog.

HC: I'll start with the most obvious question - Why SocialSpark ?
TM:That's a broad question but I will try to answer.
TM:There was a need in the market for a service that allowed advertisers and bloggers to more efficiently and effectively connect.


HC: Does this offer the blogger and/or the advertiser something that an AdSense type service does not ?
TM:Yes. Adsense is purely display advertising with no real connection between the advertiser, the blogger and the product or service. SocialSpark is all about sponsorship. Bloggers create sponsored content on behalf of the advertiser or have the advertiser sponsor their blog. The relationship is more intimate and each party selects the other.


HC: What kind of bloggers would find a paying market for their content through SocialSpark ?
TM:We see all sorts of bloggers making money. From mommy bloggers to “dogs that blog”. SocialSpark advertisers aggregate campaigns on blogs, so it isn’t so much about traffic as it is about quality and topic.


HC: How do you see the content of blogs evolve in terms of the freedom of expression that bloggers enjoy in the largely non-monetized world of today ?
TM:I believe it is imperative to keep that freedom, that is what makes blogs so great. We don’t allow advertisers to stipulate tone, so each sponsored post is free to be in the uncensored voice of the author. If it’s not authentic it won’t work in the long term.


HC: Do you think a venture like SocialSpark was made possible because blogs are creating huge quantities of content where none existed before ? Or in other words would you call SocialSpark a business fueled by blogging ?
TM:I believe we have a bit of co-dependancy. We could not exist with the content bloggers create, but at that same time we help them create more content. We find that bloggers that participate in our marketplace blog more often and generally spend more time building their audience.


HC: Could you describe a typical blogger-advertiser relationship in SocialSpark and how the larger marketplace benefits from it ?
TM:I am not sure if there is a “typical relationship” but I will try to explain how it works on a high level. An advertiser creates a profile in SocialSpark, then searches SocialSpark for bloggers that meet their particular criteria. Let’s say I am looking for entertainment bloggers. I would build a “blog roll” of entertainment bloggers by looking at each blog and adding them to my list. I would then create an “Opportunity” in our marketplace targeted at that list of entertainment blogger. Think of an Opportunity like a listing on eBay. If you are a blogger on that blog roll or meet other criteria the advertiser may set you can choose to take that Opportunity.


HC: You mentioned that the blogger is sponsored to create content by the advertiser. Does the content then reside on the advertiser’s site ?
TM:No. That content is on the bloggers own blog.


HC: How does the advertiser benefit from the content they sponsored ?
TM:It helps generate buzz by people reading the post, it generates clicks by people clicking on links and it is syndicated through rss and social search sites.


HC: So the content would like a plug for a product/service that the advertiser provides ?
TM:not really a plug, generally more a review of a site or product. It all has to be fully disclosed.
http://socialspark.com/code_of_ethics

HC: How do you see SocialSpark evolve as the blogging medium does ? For instance how would this business model work with Twitter ?
TM:It would work in much of the same way. We plan to bring socialspark to twitter in the near future.


HC: What are the bloggers who are not part of the SocialSpark network missing other than the opportunity to make some money for their content ?
TM:I would say the biggest thing is additional traffic and exposure. We have a great community and they use socialspark to discover new blogs.


HC: It was great chatting with you ! One last question - What are some of the other interesting opportunities like SocialSpark you see coming the way of bloggers in the near future ?
TM:I think bloggers will have lots of opportunities to creatively monetize their blogs in the future. Bloggers will continue getting more and more attention from mainstream advertisers, allowing more individuals to take their blogging more seriously. I think that is a good thing for everyone.Thank you for your time. Have a great night!

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