A mini firestorm arose this week when selected high profile bloggers on the Federated Media Network were deployed to write marketing copy for Microsoft and Cisco Systems. As the New York Times’ Dan Mitchell reports, “Bloggers [Around the Internet]…. said they were not looking for supposedly independent bloggers to team up with marketers to sell them stuff — they are looking for bloggers who will tell readers what they really think.”
However, I tend to agree with John Battelle, the founder and chief executive of Federated, that marketing is a conversation involving bloggers, marketers, and readers.
Marketing can and should be useful, relevant, helpful, and add value to the conversation of a site. Insisting that marketers be kept out of such conversations is an example of ‘the worst baggage of traditional approaches to media.
Blogs have draged marketers into the conversation. That’s a positive. Until blogs, marketing was all top down. Advertising spin was thrown at readers, listeners, and viewers. With blogs, consumers discuss the value of a company’s service or product. Readers of blogs get to get the straight scoop on consumer’s experiences.
Getting companies to participate in this discussion should be welcomed. It allows for marketers to respond to the consumer discussion in a much more meaningful way than with advertising. Also facilitates development of services and products that respond to consumer demands.
Sure, bloggers should not hide their affiliations or that they are being paid to promote a service or product. But kicking marketers out of the conversation is a step backwards.