Coming clean about compensation

There’s a new school of bloggers on the block, according to Lee Woodruff. In an article in the Huffington Post, Woodruff writes that old-school bloggers are  “writers, journalists, experts in their field and authors.” The new-school bloggers, however, are “former marketers whose product review blogs are very attractive to brands.”

Woodruff sees a clash of cultures between the two groups. Bloggers have traditionally written about whatever takes their fancy – whether it’s bringing up their children, their views on political developments or an account of their surfing holiday. But now, she says, some of the newer breed of bloggers aren’t always honest about being compensated for what they do.

So what might look like another Mummy blogger posting an enthusiastic review of a new make of pushchair on her site might actually be a hard-nosed businesswoman taking money from a company to promote the product.

In the US, the Federal Trade Commission is planning, as part of its review of its own advertising guidelines, to extend its remit to social media. It may well come down hard on this kind of dubious practice.

Getting to know the most influential bloggers in your particular market is always a good idea. But dishonesty is not. Woodruff argues that it’s OK for bloggers to be paid by companies if they’re open about it – but this clearly means that any positive review will be taken with a pinch of salt. Much better, in our view, to form a good relationship with bloggers and let them review your product impartially. If the review’s good, you get the benefit of positive advertising, and if it’s bad – well, it’s a risk you take, but it might generate debate, and it might also give you the feedback you need to improve the product in future.

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