Posted on : 05-10-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Marketing, Social Media
I have been meaning to write this post since an event I was at last week. One of the brand marketers had a great presentation that I agreed with many of the points, but one was, in my opinion, the wrong approach. I am not mentioning the brand on purpose but I have a lot of respect for the presenter and the work they have done bringing their company to a new level in social media.
Well the reason I am writing this post now is because the NY Times posted an interesting article titled “F.T.C to Rule Bloggers Must Give Full Disclosure.” I have never been a fan of giving bloggers products, or in the case of the presentation I was at, rewarding those that speak highly for your product. The reason is easy, once I heard the company rewarded positive commentary, I no longer believed any positive post I have ever read about the company. I now questioned the true motives of anyone that has ever posted about them. I remember about 6 months ago I was approached by marketers (that did not work for my company) wanting me to identify bloggers and provide free products. They were offended by my simple one word answer “No.” The reason was not because I do not want people to see the great products from my company. It also was not that I was afraid of what they may say, but it was really about what people may think if they did say something positive and someone later found out.
I admit, I am cheap and would love free stuff, but if you offer it, please do not expect a blog post. Ultimately it would hurt my own credibility and that of the brand. I will admit that I was invited to an event to receive free products and listen to pitches from people. I was tempted to go, but I declined. My temptation was to see the product and to truthfully people watch. But it did not fit in with my own belief structure for the social web.
I am not a fan of government regulation in this area. My preference would be to see the blogosphere self regulate this, but at the same time for events like the one I was invited to or presentations mentioning rewards for good commentary, we are not doing as good of a job as we should. I expect many will disagree with my thoughts, especially those within the marketing field, but I will say, from experience, allow your Customers to say the good and bad. Listen to them and continually work to improve your product to meet the Customer desires. For the bloggers, I understand the temptation for free products, but think about your own credibility and long term potential. It is so important to be true to who you are. That will bring the best long term results.