I love talking about and working with social media, but I always stress that it’s not a magic bullet. Social strategies, tools and tactics are not right for every company or brand. If your products are just okay – or if your products are great but your customer service is lacking - then social media may not be for you. Social media is fantastic for products and brands that instill passion in people, but I don’t think social media itself can make people feel passion for your brand. That spark has to be there to begin with.
Thinking about brands and passion makes me think of Jared - aka the Galleria of Jewelry. I have a love affair going with this jewelry store brand that is entirely the creation of my husband. Because of the meaningful gifts he has given me from Jared’s over the years, and enabled in part by their distinctive, immediately identifiable packaging and gift wrap, I have developed a level of passion for the Jared brand that is almost unmatched. I literally have a visceral, emotional reaction any time I am presented with a box or bag from that place – I absolutely lose it!
My passion for Jared jewelry is not something that has happened because of advertising, PR or social media. Heck, I’m not even a jewelry person for the most part! Instead, it’s because I have the best husband in the world. He should probably be on Jared’s payroll – he is an incredibly powerful influencer for their brand. It all started three years ago – we were packing for our wedding trip to the Turks and Caicos Islands when he realized that he may not be able to take a gift-wrapped box through security at the airport. That’s when I got my first Jared box – the medium sized one. Inside was a beautiful bracelet hubby (to be) had bought to match my wedding rings. It was totally unexpected and I was blown away by his thoughtfulness and generosity. That’s when my passion for the Jared brand and their little white leather boxes began.
Fast forward a year or so to my birthday, when hubby presented me with a large box he had gift-wrapped himself to throw me off the trail. It was about the size and weight of a box of chocolates, but when I tore off the paper I instantly saw that white leather box and began to hyperventilate while he laughed. Inside was a gorgeous Venetian glass pendant, one of my favorite pieces of jewelry that I have ever owned. Once again the Jared brand was close at hand as the happy memories and tender moments continued to add up, embodied in that now-familiar box.
That brings us to the present day, when recently this amazing man surprised me for absolutely no reason with a Jared’s bag… inside of which were not one but two small white leather boxes. Imagine my surprise, and hubby’s as well, when I dissolved into tears on sight. The surprise plus the familiar boxes plus the fact that there were two of them - well, it was all a bit much. The passion overwhelmed me, and I wept while hubby again chuckled at my unexpected reaction. The boxes contained two pairs of earrings each more gorgeous than the last – he couldn’t decide between two pairs so he got me both – and my lovemark with the Jared brand reached its all-time high.
So, what does all this passion for a jewelry brand have to do with social media? Simply that I think they are missing an opportunity to tap into all of this emotion. Imagine the terrific social media campaign Jared could do around great husbands like mine or grateful gift recipients like me. A cool Facebook page on its own probably isn’t enough to instill passion in someone, but when a terrific brand has a Facebook page? Those friends will add up fast, word of mouth will spread, conversations will happen and the brand will see results.
What do you think – do you disagree or disagree? Do you think brands can develop passionate, emotional connections with consumers based on social media alone? And is there a brand about which you feel especially passionate?
Tags: PR · social media
Last week I blogged about great social media events in other cities, but truly there’s no need to ever leave Columbus, Ohio. Between PRSA Central Ohio, Columbus TechLife, Columbus Social Media Cafe, Majelly and regular Tweetups, our social media events bring all the rockstars to the yard. Check out this list of upcoming social media events that put the cool in Cool-umbus.
- WordCamp Columbus – May 16. Hosted at Columbus State Community College, WordCamp is a full day of keynotes, breakout sessions and networking focused around the popular blogging platform. I’m really looking forward to this event as I’m a WordPress girl myself.
- PodCamp Ohio - June 20. I attended this day-long ”UnConference” last year and learned a ton about blogging, social networks, podcasting and new media from local and national social media pros. This year it will be at the Ohio State University’s Mendenhall Laboratory and it’s sure to be another stellar event attracting attendees from all across Ohio and beyond.
- Ohio Growth Summit 2009 – June 10. Longtime readers of this blog know that I’m a huge fan of Chris Brogan‘s work in the social media space. In the immortal words of Lewis Howes, Chris Brogan is a social media mutant! Now he’s coming to Columbus to speak thanks to the Ohio SBDC. I’ll be the one in the front row with a huge grin on my face.
- Spring Informal at MoJoe Lounge – March 25. Last night I got a nice email invitation to an event that’s being billed as the “Who’s Who in Columbus Social Media” – an exclusive gathering of our city’s brightest and most influential people in the social media arena. The email gushed ”Needless to say, your name was on the short list of bloggers that are making an impact in the vibrantly growing tech scene in the Midwest!” And honestly, what blogger could resist that kind of flattery? I sure can’t, so I’ll be there. You nailed it, MoJoe Lounge.
- Katie Paine at PRSA Central Ohio - date TBD. This one’s not final or official yet, and I honestly can’t remember if I heard about it at a PRSA board meeting or in the hallowed halls of the midwest’s top PR firm. Either way, I may be in big trouble for scooping it here – but it’s exciting news. Katie Paine is huge – she’s considered THE authority on social media and PR measurement. Watch this space and Central Ohio PRSA for more.
With all these great social media happenings flowing our way this spring and summer, why would anyone leave Columbus? Happy Friday – and be sure to catch up on the rest of my Friday Five series on social media and PR.
Tags: Blogging · Friday Five · Networking · Ohio · PR · social media
I love a smart, well executed social media contest and I’m always game to play along – especially for a worthy prize. In my sights at the moment? Winning a free ticket to the Online Media Boot Camp event, one of the social media conferences on my list of top five dream events I’d most like to attend this year.
After my blog post last week attracted the attention of Beth Harte and other conference masterminds, I managed to finagle an #OMBC nomination or two (or four?!) via Twitter today. It was pretty fun.
So why do I want to go? I’m in awe of the great speaker line-up. I love the idea of a small, intimate conference where real connections and conversations can take place. And, to quote Beth in her video promoting the contest, I’m just that into them.
Now, why do I deserve to win? As you can tell from my blog, I love social media and learning. I’ll be an active, enthusiastic, engaged participant at the conference. I’m high energy and fun to have around. I’ve already blogged about the event twice now, two weeks in a row. Once I’ve won my spot at OMBC and paid my own way there, I’ll live Tweet, live blog and openly share everything I learn. And, last but not least, I’m very handy to have around in case of a zombie attack.
So, what do you think, dear readers - do I deserve a winning ticket? Please leave a comment here or send a supportive Tweet to @onlinemediabc if you want to help my chances!
Tags: Blogging · PR · social media · Travel
A good social media conference is like the most beautiful box of chocolates you’ve ever unwrapped: it’s hard to choose where to begin, and you just want to cram it all in at once.
Blogs and books are great, but sometimes you really need to get away from the daily routine and immerse yourself in learning. With that in mind, here’s my ultimate wish list of social media conferences for communicators this year. I’ve researched and detailed the costs, key speakers and location for each so that you can make smart decisions in these tough economic times.
- Online Media Boot Camp – April 9 in King of Prussia, PA – $349 plus hotel/travel (1 day). This conference has a lot packed into just one day so it’s reasonably priced, easy to get to and won’t take a lot of time – basically, there’s no reason not to go. Plus, Mack Collier is speaking and he has a cool social media contest going right now so you can win a free ticket. Hey, you never know. Go for it! And either way, follow the brilliance using the #OMBC hashtag here.
- Inbound Marketing Summit (formerly New Marketing Summit) – either San Franciso in April, Dallas in May or Boston in September – $695 plus hotel/travel (2 days). This is a Chris Brogan joint, so it’s pretty much The One Social Media Event to Rule Them All. Even the conference website is cool, detailing the big names behind the summit and listing their blogs and Twitter info so you can follow them. Wish I could go, but I’m following them all (blogs and Twitter) so I’ll be able to catch some of the flow.
- Social Media for Communicators – Las Vegas in March – $995 plus hotel/travel (3 days). This is the annual Ragan Communications event and it’s in Vegas, baby, Vegas. Peter Shankman, Forrester’s Josh Bernoff and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh are all speaking. Can’t swing the pricetag or time commitment for this one? Follow all the speakers on Twitter and read their blogs – you’ll still get great content without the neon-and-cigarette-smoke induced headaches of Vegas. Also, watch the live #socmedlv Twitter stream here.
- New Communications Forum – co-located with the San Francisco Inbound Marketing Summit in April (remember what I said above about “The One Event”?!) - $795 plus hotel/travel (2 days). This event features an incredible line-up and is extremely well respected in the industry. I’ll be watching for the #NCF hashtag on Twitter and doing my best to follow along.
- Digital Impact Conference - April in NYC – $799 plus hotel/travel (2 days). This is PRSA’s event and the one event on this list I’ll actually be attending live and in person. I’m looking forward to hearing Brian Solis speak again, as well as PR rockstar Sarah Evans and SEO guru Lee Odden. I will blog and tweet from the conference so you’ll feel like you got to go too. And, it’s my birthday weekend so not a bad time to be back in my old stomping ground, the Big Apple.
What do you think – is this your social media event wishlist too, or are there others you’d rather attend? Will you be attending any social media conferences in 2009?
Tags: Blogging · Friday Five · PR · social media
Each Friday I bring you five finds from the world of web 2.0, whether cool sites or links or happenings. This week I’m focusing on tools and toys I call “visual monitoring” devices. These aren’t necessarily useful for longterm social media monitoring or tracking over time, but they are great for showing what’s happening right now in the world of social media - and they do so in a very visual way. I find these to be fantastic sites to bring up when “demo-ing” social media for new folks. Because of their visual nature, these tools make a great first impression.
1. TopicHawk. Just as Twitter answers the question “What are you doing?”, monitoring post TopicHawk answers the question “Right now, people are talking about…” Just plug in any keyword and up pops a steady stream of real-time findings which may include mentions from Twitter, Technorati, Friendfeed, Google News, Yahoo News, Wikipedia and more. TopicHawk also shows you what hot topics and keywords are currently trending on Twitter and Google. Here’s an example – just for fun, I put in the keywords “Lost TV” to see what it would bring back about ABC’s Lost. Imagine the impact of having this on your big screen, with your client’s brand as the keyword entered, next time they stop in for a meeting.
2. Spy. Not unlike TwitterHawk, Spy is another way to quickly and easily see conversations in social media based on keywords you enter. Early adopter Louis Gray enthused about Spy, calling it an interesting offering that offers the ability to watch not just Twitter, but also blog posts, Google Reader shares and FriendFeed. At a September social media club breakfast, Best Buy showed off Spy as a way to demonstrate how the company engages in social media. I plugged in another TV show, American Idol, to see what Spy would bring back. It’s pretty entertaining to sit back and watch the conversation flow.
3. Addictomatic. This is a fun, user-friendly little site which allows you to set up a social media listening dashboard for instant access to all the online buzz on a particular topic or keyword. Addictomatic‘s tagline is “Inhale the web” and that’s exactly what it allows you to do. Some time ago, I set up a vanity page on myself and now I visit it every once in a while to be sure everything is as it should be. This is something I recommend as part of a personal online reputation management strategy, and certainly it makes sense for companies or brands to have their own Addictomatic pages as well.
4. TwitterFountain. A widget rather than a site, TwitterFountain mashes up Twitter and Flickr search results into a visually pleasing flow on your blog or social network profile page. It’s a little quirky and was created in the Netherlands so you may see some Dutch words pop up here and there, but I think it’s pretty fun. You can see the TwitterFountain widget in action on my PRopenMic page. It’s a bit orange, but I’m sure you can tweak the color if you’re just a little more tech savvy than I am.
5. NetVibes Listening Post. This one requires a special thank you to my colleague Dave Chlastosz, aka the King of NetVibes. I knew about NetVibes but had never spent time with it until I saw what Dave had done with it for a client. It blew my mind. It’s like one-stop shopping for all your social media needs, including blogs, widgets, RSS feeds and more. The thing about NetVibes is that you do need to spend some time – probably a couple of hours – setting it up the way you want it. Once you have it set up though, NetVibes is a thing of beauty and a real time-saver. Here’s a link to mine which is a work in progress. I continue to add blogs, create new category tabs, find new widgets and move things around.
There you have it – my five favorite social monitoring tools with a cool visual twist. I hope you found something new to work or play with.
Now, what have I missed – what else belongs on this list? And what would you like me to cover in my next Friday Five?
Tags: Blogging · Friday Five · social media
Arik Hansen put together a terrific list of PR pros who blog and Tweet in the Twin Cities, and it intrigued me. Aren’t many of these folks competitors? Why would they all want to be on the same list?
But then I realized what a cool resource this is. In these uncertain economic times, now more than ever we should be networking and building relationships with other local practitioners and PR bloggers. Remember that list Alvin made a few years ago about how none of the PR agencies in town blogged at the time? Ouch. Think of my list as the exact opposite of that one.
Alvin, Cheryl, Experience Columbus and my own agency Fahlgren Mortine have put together great lists of local Twitterers. Dawn has started a wonderful list of Columbus bloggers. Now, with a hat tip to Arik and my aforementioned Tweeps, I’m setting out to create a master list of local PR pros online - and give a little link love to my fellow PR peeps while I’m at it.
To get on the list of blogging and Tweeting PR pros in Columbus, please send me a note on Twitter, email me or leave a comment below with your name, blog (your own, your company/firm’s blog or any other blog you write for), and your Twitter @. I’ll update this post regularly with the entries I receive, and soon we’ll all have a great resource next time we want to throw a party and invite every online PR person in town.
Columbus PR Pros
Lara Kretler, Fahlgren Mortine PR, @LaraK
Amy Johnson, OSCPA, @alillyjohnson
Bill Balderaz, Webbed Marketing, @bbalderaz
Beth Watkins, @bethwatkins
Gary Moneysmith, Conrad | Phillips | Vutech, @garymoneysmith
Ashley Sanders, SBC Advertising, @ashsands
Mary Krouse Garrick, SBC Advertising, @maryg_pr
Craig Simpson, @crsimp01
Shane Haggerty, @shanehaggerty
Michelle Savoldi, Columbus Impressions, @cbusimpressions
John Rhind, @JohnRhind
Lora Deeds, Quest Software, @LoraDeeds
Ashley Moyer, Fahlgren Mortine, @AshleyM_
Amber Gallihar, Durable Slate, @agallihar
Jamie Grove, @hownottowrite
Cheryl Harrison, @cherylharrison
Gary Hunt, @Gary_Hunt
Emily Garvey, @EmilyGarvey
Jessica Hamlin, @jhamlin
J. Martin Poston, @jmposton
April A. Hayes, @Ahayes24
Krista Holloway, SBC Advertising, @kholloway
Kelli Nowinsky, COSI, @knowinsky
Irene Alvarez, Experience Columbus, @Irene_ExpCols
Courtney Cooper, Webbed Marketing, @courtcoop
Dave Culbertson, @daveculbertson
your name here…and so on
What do you think – useful idea? Please send me your info and help make this a great organic directory for PR in Columbus. And while you’re at it, please join my Wired PR Pros group on Majelly, the central Ohio social media community.
Tags: Blogging · Networking · Ohio · PR · social media
February 20th, 2009 · 1 Comment
Today marks the first entry in my new series, the Friday Five – a weekly collection of my favorite new or cool web2.0 tools, tips and tricks. It’s named after one of the best times of the week – 5 p.m. every Friday.
It’s bitterly cold outside and the economy is still tanking, but there are always things to get excited about in the wonderful world of social media. Here’s this week’s round-up.
1. The hashtag #SolisOH. This week, Silicon Valley PR2.0 guru Brian Solis visited chilly Columbus, Ohio to share insights from his latest book, Putting the Public Back in Public Relations: How Social Media is Reinventing the Aging Business of PR. It was great to meet Brian, hear him speak and join a room full of my friends, colleagues and fellow Central Ohio PRSA members live-Tweeting the highlights from his presentation. You can read the collective notes via the Tweetstream. There were some great nuggets of info and I’m looking forward to diving into my new (and autographed, I might add) book. Big thanks to Brian for sharing his expertise with Columbus and taking some great photos of our town while he was here.
2. HootSuite. Formerly known as BrightKit, HootSuite is my favorite Twitter tool for managing and measuring multiple accounts simultaneously. The dashboard is simple to use and it even allows you to queue up Tweets to be sent at a later time or date specified by you. This would be great for anyone planning a vacation but still wanting to keep a Twitter account active and interesting. Plus, with a name like HootSuite, it’s got to be good, right?
3. Popular Delicious bookmarks. At any moment in time, people are saving articles, links and sites to Delicious and tagging them for easy recall and reference later. But how do you find what’s most popular in your niche? Visit http://delicious.com/popular/socialmedia only instead of social media, that last word should be whatever keyword floats your boat. For me, it’s either socialmedia or PR or some combination thereof - like PR2.0. Experiment with different keywords and you’ll be amazed at what you may find. Recently a visiting PR student asked me how I stay on top of what’s new in the world of social media and web2.0. This little Delicious “what’s popular” trick is one of my secret weapons – so Callie, now you know too.
4. Backtype. If you’re active as a blog commenter and conversator (and I hope you are), it can be hard to remember everywhere you’ve traveled and commented in the blogosphere. Now, there’s a tool that allows you to keep track of all your comments – or even the blog comments of other bloggers whose thoughts and insights you value. Backtype allows you to “claim” your comments so that they can be discovered, followed and shared. It also allows you to subscribe to the blog comments of other Backtype users, which can be a great way to find out which blogs your favorite bloggers read. You can use the service to monitor blog comments for a particular keyword. And, as someone who manages a team of bloggers, it helps me keep track of who is out there commenting and promoting our Fahlgren Mortine blog.
5. The phenomenon known as #Journchat. If you’re in PR or the media business, you should know about the Monday night Twitter events known as #Journchat. You can follow the Tweetstream here, visit the blog for recaps here or check out the Facebook group here. The brainchild of PR rockstar Sarah Evans, #Journchat has to be experienced to be believed – it’s a fantastic ongoing weekly conversation between PR pros and journalists with the goal of making all our jobs just a little easier. It’s a great way to find smart people to follow on Twitter, learn how to work better with “the dark side” (which side that is varies according to your perspective, of course) and maybe even pitch a story or find a great new source. If you’re not doing anything Monday nights at 8 p.m. EST, I highly recommend you head to Twitter and join the conversation.
So, that’s my first edition of the Friday Five. What do you think? Let me know if you found this useful. In the meantime, I’ll start collecting more shiny new tools and toys to share with you next week.
Tags: Blogging · Friday Five · Ohio · PR · social media
February 4th, 2009 · 6 Comments
Last night I got home to a wonderful care package from Little Debbie sitting on my doorstep. Even the UPS delivery guy must have thought it looked cool, because he very carefully draped my welcome mat over the box to keep it safe from prying eyes. When I got it inside and opened it up, I could barely believe it – snack jackpot! It made this blogger’s day.
Little Debbie, working with David Griner at Luckie, launched this blogger contest a few months ago with giveaways aplenty. Ever curious about blog contests and how to do them right, I entered the Little Debbie 100-calorie pack contest on A Cowboy’s Wife‘s food blog several weeks ago. (As a side note, A Cowboy’s Wife is one of the Walmart ElevenMoms. She’s a great blogger and does lots of cool giveaways, so read her blog and follow her on Twitter if you want to win like I did.)
To enter the contest, I commented on the blog post and Tweeted about it on Twitter. That blog post generated more than 500 comments to enter the contest, and only three people won – lucky me included! A Cowboy’s Wife DM’d me on Twitter to let me know I’d won, and about a week later the Little Debbie 100-calorie snack package arrived to make my day.
We do blogger outreach contests at Fahlgren Mortine too, so it’s always great to see how another agency does them. I like this contest for several reasons.
1. The prize was fantastic. The box was chock-full of great 100-calorie treats, plus the box itself was colorful, fun and beautifully branded. It even had Little Debbie’s Twitter info right on the box, and a nice letter from the VP of marketing suggesting I contact their social media consultant, David Griner, with any questions. There was also a separate note reassuring me about the peanut butter recall and the fact that, although two Little Debbie products were recalled as part of that, the treats in my box are all safe and not part of the recall. Love that attention to detail and transparent communication.
2. The contest was simple. Bloggers got a snack box inviting them to participate by blogging about the contest. Their readers got a chance to comment or Tweet and win. There are lots of people buzzing about Little Debbie 100-calorie snacks and naming their favorites (I haven’t decided yet, but they all look delicious!). And because many bloggers read other blogs, I”m guessing that Little Debbie will get a ton of “second wave” buzz from people like me who won the contest and can’t resist blogging about it.
3. Everyone wins. Bloggers love having something new and fun to write about, as well as a chance to offer their readers a cool prize. Blog fans appreciate the opportunity to win giveaways by supporting our favorite bloggers. And the brand certainly wins as a result of all this great positive buzz. I’ll be honest, I’ve never bought Little Debbie snacks – my snacks tend more toward Kashi bars or fresh fruit. However, I have been known to pick up 100-calorie packs (Doritos were my favorite prior to this). I now have such an affinity toward Little Debbie, both for this cool prize and for the way they have embraced social media, that I am quite sure if the treats in my blogger bonanza box taste as good as they look, Little Debbie will have won a new customer for life.
Everyone loves getting care packages full of treats. If you have a product that could surprise or delight someone by showing up on their doorstep, think about reaching out to bloggers with a contest or giveaway that will inspire their love and loyalty – and that of their readers.
And by the way, what’s your favorite snack?
Tags: Blogging · PR · social media
January 31st, 2009 · 9 Comments
It’s time for me to sit in the prickly, uncomfortable cactus chair of accountability and confess that I am a bad blogger.
I haven’t posted here since mid December. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve talked to people about social media and proclaimed that “you must commit to blogging and update consistently – at least once a week!” I admit it… I’m a bloggard.
bloggard (blŏg-erd] n. One who does not blog regularly. From “blogger” + “sluggard.”
The good news is that although I haven’t been blogging here, I’ve been far from stagnant. I have been avidly pursuing PR2.0 and social media excellence. I’ve been reading, listening, commenting, conversing and collecting tons of great articles, blog posts, tools and tips. I’ve made several presentations about social media and have attended webinars and great local events. I’ve been Tweeting up a storm and contributed to a Columbus Dispatch Twitter article. And, despite some controversy in the blogosphere about this very topic, I’m taking an online study course to hone my skills and knowledge via the APR exam. In other words, there’s plenty to blog about.
From this moment forward, I’m committing to bring you the very latest, coolest and most useful information about PR and social media – at least weekly. For example, just this week I discovered a unique blog, VizEdu, dedicated to education about social media, web2.0, search and emerging technologies. What makes this blog different is that the authors do it visually, using video, flash animation and minimal text. In the words of Sandeep Arora, Architect of VizEdu:
“The human mind is hardwired for pictures. Visuals and diagrams help us understand complex concepts very easily and they stay with us for a long time. Educating people is our passion and this lead to the creation of VizEdu which means Vizual Education.”
It’s a fantastic learning tool and my favorite VizEdu post thus far is this one on Online Reputation Management, since it hits the sweet spot of my two favorite topics, the intersection of PR and social media.
January 2009 has come and gone. Is there something you’ve been procrastinating or putting off? Care to sit in the prickly cactus chair and confess? Or, better yet, got any tips for sticking with blogging resolutions this year?
Tags: Blogging · PR · social media
December 16th, 2008 · 5 Comments
There’s a tremor in the force this week. There, did you feel it? The blogosphere, Twitter and Friendfeed are rumbling with the worst case of blogdrama since Motrin and the mommybloggers. What’s it about this time, you ask? Paid posts.
You see, marketers are always trying to find a way in to social media and web2.0. They want a magic bullet, something quick they can buy, rather than the old fashioned, long way around of building relationships over time with social PR. The latest studies tell us advertising on these social sites doesn’t work. Marketing giant (and my former employer) P&G is struggling with social marketing with mixed results. What’s a marketer to do?
The latest trend is buying paid posts on influential blogs in the hopes of reaching their readers with a call to action. A company called Izea is getting huge amounts of attention right now for spearheading several paid posts campaigns, the latest of which is for Kmart. I’ve scattered lots of great links about this campaign throughout this post, so be sure to check them out.
Honestly, I can’t deny that this approach works to some degree. There are bloggers I respect and admire so much (*cough* Chris Brogan *cough*) that I would definitely go out of my way to try something they recommend – within reason (more on this in a bit). So I’d say yes, reaching consumers through bloggers in this way may be a good idea for brands. But does that mean it’s a good idea for bloggers?
Part of the beauty of blogging is that we’re not restricted by the rigid rules and confines of journalism – we can share our opinions openly, we are not at the mercy of set deadlines, we can say what we want, we can accept freebies. We’re wild, we’re free, we’re bloggers. In the immortal words of PeeWee Herman:
I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.
Yet, at the same time, there are good things we can borrow from the pros. I fear that if bloggers start operating out of greed and desire to make a buck, we’ll lose some of the great rogue qualities that made us start blogging in the first place.
I mean, doesn’t a blogger lose credibility by publishing a paid post? I think so - maybe a little. And I’m not the only one who thinks so – Google has started cracking down on paid posts and punishing bloggers who do a lot of it.
I also think there’s a fine line here. For example, I blog about PR and social media here on my own time, and I also do that as my day job. So if I write here about work I’m doing for a client, is it a paid post? I don’t think so, but some might – and either way, I’m always very up front with disclaimers so there can be no doubt about my allegiances.
Also, here’s another grey area – sometimes bloggers are given an opportunity to test or sample products or services, and then they write about them. You know, like Jeni’s ice cream or sweets from Dublin. For some reason, this doesn’t bother me as much as the all-out, cash in hand variety of paid posts.
For example, when I came across Chris Brogan’s recent paid post for Kmart (part of the Izea campaign), I’ll admit that I didn’t read it. As soon as I saw his disclaimer and realized what it was about, I immediately blew it off. Why? Because Kmart is not a brand I’m interested in. I don’t feel any connection to it, so in that instance it didn’t matter to me how much my favorite blogger raved about it – I was not going to be influenced. Marketers would do well to keep that in mind: paid influence only goes so far. I’m far more likely to be swayed when I know a blogger or friend is passionate about something for no reason other than its inherent value. (Spoken like a true PR person, right?)
Summing up, I’m of the mind that it’s okay to do a paid post very occasionally, and with absolute full disclosure, but do it more often than that and you lose some credibility. Interestingly, this online poll seems to indicate that’s the general consensus for now among other bloggers, too.
What do you think? As a blogger, would you accept a paid post assignment? As a reader or consumer of blogs, does it bother you to see paid posts in your favorite blogs? I’m very interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter.
And at least for now, this space is not for sale…although I would consider reviewing cupcakes if anyone wants to send me some. Kidding. Sort of. Not really.
Tags: Blogging · PR · social media