On a corporate blog, unless it’s over-hyped that it’s really done by the C-level exec, most people understand that someone else is involved. Other people are probably:
- Advising the firm, shaping the message strategy, and checking it against the overall marketing and PR plans.
- Helping to draft that entry, research relevant sources and links.
- Doing the physical typing, linking and posting.
In the old days a dictated business letter had two sets of initials at the bottom, to indicate that the person signing the letter did not do the actual typing or drafting. It’d be wise to stick to that model and include a “written with so-and-so” whenever appropriate.
I took a look at the DisneyParks blog today, written by different people, with their names and titles front and center. I’m sure someone is kicking the tires, selecting the bloggers, deciding which entries to publish, as part of the overall marketing program.
Motivation matters. Why are they writing about this?
For a “private” or general consumer blog, it is different. Even though there may be tons of ads, banners, links all over the blog, some readers may not realize they are reading the “paid” work of a blogger.
Would a reader feel burned more by the blogger they trusted when they find out they only wrote about that vacuum cleaner or this hotel because of a free gift or promotion, or do they blame the brands? Does this “fraud” damage the brand?
Depends on the nature of the campaign. While someone may think less of Royal Caribbean for their promotions and whether or not they disclosed the free cruise arrangements for their Champions, RC is a business after all, and they are about making money.
Maybe I’m cynical, but it’s not all hugs, free ice cream and glitter-farting ponies; it’s business. Dell, Ford and Victoria’s Secret are using social media to build relationships and create brand ambassadors in order to–wait for it–SELL Stuff…their stuff. As you recover from the shock let me add: water is wet, sky is sometimes blue, and [my love of] Coke Classic and chocolate make me fat.
A free sample of dish detergent may not seem like much and maybe that’s the point. So what if you rave about Dawn because you really like it but only did so after they sent you a free bottle? It matters more that you say so.
Disclosure is key. Just say so.
If someone gave you a product sample, a free trip, or computer for a six-month trial, say so upfront loud and clear. In the end transparency and disclosure may actually earn more trust and loyalty for the brand, the brand advocate and the blogger.
The fine print: No brands or companies have participated or promoted the development of this blog. If any wish to do so, my wallet will be open. 😉