I had intended to say that Chris Brogan’s K-mart post was a storm in a teacup, until I saw Chris’ post on Saturday. (If you missed it, it’s K-Mart’s use of six bloggers to create some buzz about shopping for Christmas.) It’s more like a tornado in a branded shot glass.
It boils down to whether pay-per-post ought to be shunned by bloggers, and the larger, eternal question: “Are bloggers journalists?”
My initial thoughts were these:
- People are so uncomfortable/unsure about social media that they think there’s one formula that everyone has to follow, and whoever breaks the formula is either crazy, desperate, or damn clever.
- Money is a touchy subject when it comes to blogs -until people place ads in their navigation bar.
I didn’t think this was such a sell out, or that Chris had tiptoed to the ‘slippery slope’ as many have suggested. I have to laugh out loud when people talk about editorial integrity in the traditional media and that firewall between advertising and editorial.
Having bought media in the old and new media worlds, I know how this works, or doesn’t. You can not pay for editorial outright, most of the time. But you could be put into a sponsor bucket, and be ‘promised’ some coverage. Chris cut through those euphemisms, and said quite clearly what his purpose was. Here’s why I like what he did:
- He challenged the old way of thinking, and the old ‘rules’ that people imagine exist.
- He stuck to the ‘markets are conversations’ idea, even before he cited Cluetrain Manifesto.
- He was transparent. Bloody transparent. To the point of scanning his register receipt.
As Jeremiah Owyang noted in an earlier tweet:
“Expect more brands to ‘buy’ bloggers and tweeters as the economy dips, this truly is cost effective marketing.”
Some will be uncomfortable with this, but as old media explores a new model to retain readers and viewers –and sponsors– we need to become more open to experimentation.