A question for social media types

Hey social media types!

Gotta question for everyone here, and I’d like to hear what your opinions are:

I’ve been invited to a number of events and forums for the express purpose of live tweeting/providing online coverage for these events.

Some of these events are invitation only, some are paid events and some are public events.

At a number of these events, the presenters, organizers and staff working the event are being paid while I’ve been asked to volunteer my time, because after all, it’s suchgoodexposure.

Disclaimer here:

If the event is something I am personally interested in and was planning on attending, regardless, I have no problem lending a hand and helping out.  A number of events that I have live tweeted have trended both nationally in Canada and internationally due to the engagement and open conversation I was able to have with participants both in person and online.

However my conundrum is when I’ve been asked to attend an event I was not planning on attending (due to cost, time involved or lack of interest) and essentially work as an agent of promotion for free.  If I’m not attending due to cost, I’d happily accept free admission in return for my time energy and support.  However if I’m being asked to an event I am not attending due to scheduling conflicts or lack of interest, that is another matter.

Apparently being invited to do this by the event organizers should be payment enough.  However when everyone else working this event is getting paid, I do take exception to this.

I’ve taken this question to twitter and engaged fellow social media types and have received the following general responses:

  • Getting another business to sponsor me.
  • Match sponsorship opportunities to event topics and keep offers available for a limited time after the event (in other words, asking a business to sponsor me)
  • Bill as for a print review of the event (as a journalist – which I am certainly not – I’m simply an asshole with a big mouth and an active online presence) or bill for my time.
  • Accept that being invited to an event that people are paying to attend is an honour and enjoy the exposure.  (This was the most  overwhelming response to my queries online)

Let’s take these in reverse order: 

  • Being invited to an event to publicize it online is all well and good.  However  if I had no intention of going in the first place as it is something I am either not interested or engaged in, how is my attendance going to be of benefit to me?  It would be different if I was planning on going and had paid – having my attendance comped/refunded in exchange for whatever I can do to get people engaged on social media would be nice.  But if I was not planning on attending, how is getting in in the first place of benefit for me when I’m expending my time and energy?  Plus, let’s be realistic in my country of Canada, one can die from exposure
  • Billing for as for a print review of the event (as a journalist) and/or billing for my time is all well and good, but at rates?  I’m not privy to what more traditional journalists are getting, how should I value my time if I bill hourly?  This is particularly what I was asking about, however none of the folks who replied to me were able to quantify what the services were worth.  Do I get paid per tweet?  Do I get a bonus if the event trends?
  • The last two essentially end up as “get someone to sponsor me.”  Ummm, if the organizers of the event are asking me to do this – shouldn’t they be the ones sponsoring me?  Why should I have to run around finding someone to pay for my time, especially when I am uncomfortable in what seems like whoring myself for money.  When I did endorse a musical instrument manufacturer, if they wanted me to attend an event – they essentially paid for me to attend the event – transportation, admission fees and branded clothing to wear in exchange for my time and energy in their booth, answering question.  As they had asked me to attend, they did not leave it up to me to find someone else to sponsor me to attend…just saying.

However I’ve found this quite prevalent in social media fields.  People going (or wanting to attend) conferences, essentially selling themselves for “sponsorships” and I’m not the only one who has noted this:

Cocktail Deeva on Who the Hell are You?

Sorry folks, I like to maintain my respectability, credibility and objectivity.  I am not going to beg someone for sponsorship to an event, especially if I wasn’t planning on attending it in the first place!  If an event organizer wants me to attend their event to publicize it, they are going to have to explain to me how I will benefit by this – beyond “think of all the exposure you’ll get!”  Ummm you’ve invited me, so I can give your event exposure…just sayin’.

My question to the field was how to monetize this – do I bill per tweet, per event, an hourly rate, ask for a bonus if it trends, etc.  My opinion on being requested to live tweet/online moderate for events is that if other event workers are being paid, so should I. 

The question is how?


7 thoughts on “A question for social media types

  1. Sorry I didn’t weigh in earlier: Yes you should get paid. And you should also be billed as such (the official tweeter of InsertNameHere.) As to how much, I dunno. Enough to make it worth while for you.

    Because, as you say, if you weren’t planning on attending, you’d be doing them a favor. Maybe a flat-rate fee, free registration plus a bonus if it trends.

    And to those who said you should “enjoy the exposure”, well that’s well and good if you were already planning on attending the event, but otherwise it just allows conference planners to take advantage. If they want you so bad, they should pay you.

  2. I’m going to take a slightly different stance on this, as one who attends few events but is fairly active in the Twitterverse (even if the Twitterverse doesn’t notice of care)…. I hate live tweeting of events/conferences so much so that I will attempt to avoid the brand(s) being pushed. I have gone so far to permanently mute anything to do with chicken farmers, Kinder eggs, the Ford Flex and a certain upcoming conference in Ontario that I cannot talk about because I’ve already gone over the 140 character limit. That’s just my stance. I’m not saying these products and events are not worthy of attention and praise but enough is enough.

    As for attending events that I/you are interested in and live-tweeting them… If I paid to be at an event, why would I spend the mental energy to tweet about it every 2 minutes when I should/want to be listening, learning about someone or something? I scheduled my time, perhaps months in advance and paid my $ to learn and engage with like-minded people. I find it awfully difficult to do either while being blinded by the light from the screen of my phone.

    As for how to be compensated… If someone invited me to attend an event for the sole purpose of tweeting it, and I wasn’t planning to attend otherwise, you can bet your ass I’d be getting paid! Put a true dollar figure in exposure and maybe we can talk about that.

    Again, this is just my 2¢ and yes, I owe you some change.

    • That’s why I take issue with the folks begging for sponsors to conferences…I will happily promote, endorse and support businesses that I would normally use every day and provide good support and service (hello F Bass!), but I’m not going to offer my soul up for tender to the highest bidder.

      • Generally, I agree with you on sponsorship however…. Many bloggers get sponsorships from brands to promote those brands. It could take the form of a review, contest etc. Is it wrong to promote a brand/event in exchange for their help to get to an event?

        I know one person trying to get to BlogHer. I really like this lady on a personal level but she just doesn’t have the $ to attend the conference. She’s a mom to 5 kids. She’s asking for people to sponsor her in exchange for an article, promotion on her blog and other SM platforms. As someone who has pledged to sponsor her, user it as an advertising expense for my business. I am paying her for some exposure (wow, that doesn’t sound too good). I don’t see an issue with that. Maybe I’m being hypocritical, but it doesn’t feel that way.

      • I just find the whole “hey everybody” pay me to go to this conference and promote your stuff cheapens your blog and, honestly, reduces your credibility with me as a reader. I have unfollowed people who are bluntly pimping themselves out for free shit, that they may or may not use.

        However there’s a big difference in sponsoring someone you know and respect personally versus publically begging for money/merch/etc. to do something. There’s also a huge difference in pimping a company that you actually use regularly or a company that you have personal ties to versus pimping yourself for the highest bidder.

        Let’s be honest here, I’ve accepted and continue to accept assistance from various musical instrument/supply manufacturers in exchange for my advertising/doing work for them, however I use their products regularly and would purchase it in the retail environment regardless of the discount/support given me. I’ve also turned down sponsors because I don’t like their products or don’t approve of their business model/practices. I guess I’m strange that way.

        Just saying. You are supporting someone you know and respect in exchange for your advertising. Heck, I’ve supported a number of artists directly and through Indegogo and Kickstarter. That’s fair. Asking strangers/companies for free shit/money so you can go to a really bitchin’ conference in exchange for shilling for them is a different matter and honestly destroys all credibility in my eyes.

      • Sounds like me. Other than “here, try this out & tell me what you think” by companies whose products I’m already a fan of, I’ve never received any kind of freebie. If Teknatool or Thompson Lathe Tools wanted to “sponsor” me, I’d be cool with that. I already buy, use and love their products. If lathe manufacturer XYZ wanted me to pimp their equipment, they would have to give it to me at no charge and take whatever it is that I have to say about it.

        Now, where is that # for Vicmarc? I need to talk to them about dropping $6500 worth of big blue Australian lathe into my shop….


  3. i dunno Myke. I realize that my attendance at some events, and tweeting about it has significantly raised the profile of that event – but I don’t tweet on behalf of anyone but me. I’m not going to go to a shoemaking conference and tweet about it because most of my followers (so far as i know) couldn’t give a crap. When asked to tweet at an event, i’ve agreed but i will tweet what i want – good and bad. We all tweet for our own reasons thought, but i think as soon as you start taking money for tweeting – your tweets are covered in stink. that’s my opinion on the matter.

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