At the recent Blogwell Philly event, there was a session dedicated to brand ethics within social media. Most people in the room seemed to get a lot out of this conversation. Content was good. Being from an agency and not a brand, it wasn’t anything we haven’t heard or preached before. That is, until, we got to a slide that covered, “Paid Word-of-Mouth Advertising.”
Huh? Someone hand me my soapbox!
If buzz is ‘word-of-mouth’, it isn’t really advertising; If promotion is paid, it isn’t WOM.
If you’re a brand and you’re looking to pay bloggers and other influencers to write about you and your products, my first question is, why? Are people already talking about your brand? If so, engage them! On your Facebook page, in your Twitter feed, on your blog, etc. Ask questions! Respond to posts and ideas. Create a true conversation. There are creative ways to promote your brand without beating people over the head with it. The passion is already there and a little attention, via simple, conversational engagement, is a great way to stoke the flames. That’s WOM!
Paid blogger endorsements always feel like a late-night infomercial. Think of the credibility and believability of the people in the “audience” eating food prepared by a guy or gal schilling the latest kitchen gadget. Are you buying it when you see it on TV? Then why should your customers buy it when they see it happening online? Consider the whole of your brand and your strategy and exhaust your other options first. Campaign-related targets and interaction goals can cloud our judgment. Don’t be seduced by the promise of reach. Those sexy spikes in engagement metrics are momentary and not worth the long-term effects of sacrificing your brand integrity.