Posts Tagged ‘Forrester Research


There has been a lot of discussion on the blogs concerning paid content, endorsements and sponsorships. Forrester Research started the argument with a report on sponsored posts. Chris Brogan spooled up the discussion with the suggestion that being straight forward about intentions has worked for people like John Chow and Shoemoney. Chris had a lively group of comments from those on both sides of the fence. Marshall Kirkpatrick of Readwriteweb came out strongly against the practice suggesting that “paying bloggers to write about your company is a dangerous and unsavory path for new media”. Valeria Maltoni’s conversation856211 added thoughts on blog sustainability, transparency and development as we witness an evolving marketing system.

I see social media as a large post office box full of party invitations. This box is stuffed with varying invitations in appealing envelopes. You open them at your option and by reading the words on the card you make a personal choice. No one is looking over your shoulder so you can toss them or keep them. Most of the invitations that you receive are pretty straight forward and transparent. When the Tupperware party invitation is opened, you are aware that if you go, somebody at the party will be selling something. You can choose to attend the party, share in the fun and conversation and purchase product, or you can decline the invitation. The invitation to the White Elephant Gift Exchange states clearly that you must bring a $25 gift to the party. You can measure the advantages of the social banter, personal engagement and gift sharing against other investments of your time. These invitations, along with past party experiences provide you with the transparency to understand the intentions of the host.

The other underlying factor in choosing party attendance is the value you place upon the host of the party. If you have attended their parties in the past and found them duds, you probably would toss the invitation. On the other hand, some party hosts have a reputation of sponsoring a social explosion and you would be a fool to miss the date. The great hosts make a Tupperware or a White Elephant or even a knitting party worth the effort. Trustworthy hosts have earned their reputation by demonstrating that they bring added value to the party experience. They prove through their actions that they can sustain the value of the party even if there is selling involved. They send invitations that are clear in their intent.

If they choose to have a banner over the punch bowl that states, “Punch sponsored by Hawaiian Tropic”, you are free to ask the host why. An honest host would state that the company provided the punch free for you in exchange for displaying the sign. A well-trusted host could suggest that Hawaiian Tropic is their personal favorite and you would not be offended. A clever host would plan a party game that involved the punch in the conversation and in the activity. In the end, you had a great time with friends and family, associated with an experienced and practical host and didn’t mind that the party was partially subsidized by the punch distributor.

As I explore the blog invitations that are presented to me by the social web, I like the fact that I can freely measure the value of the host. I appreciate hosts who provide open communication so that I can ask why the “punch banner” is there on the page. I know that I can look at the conversation to determine if I can trust the site to be full of great conversation. I am grateful for the experiences presented to me, so an honest attempt to pay the bills makes perfect sense to me.