Paying Bloggers – Right or Wrong is Not the Question

Posted on March 3, 2009. Filed under: blogging, Marketing, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , |

An article on Read Write Web caught my attention yesterday because of its position on a Forrester report on why companies should pay bloggers to write articles about their products.

Now my first impression is that the RWW article is an “opinion” post, these are always good for driving traffic. Take a stance and put it out there, some people will agree with you, some will disagree, hopefully some of them will leave comments and therefore you increase your audience. So when we get into “tactics” used by organizations whether they are branding companies or “blogging” companies like RWW we should examine all the tactics used.

That out of the way I think that the RWW post ignores the “Why” question and takes a too simplistic view of how brands are trying to cope with the surge in interest in Social Media and their efforts to keep up or in some cases catch up.  They are taking the stance of blogging as a pure art. To that I say “nonesense”, blogging is no such thing, if it were Adsense wouldn’t be available to bloggers. Bloggers have utilized different ways of making money since they first started to produce blogs. The very fact that there are so many posts out there on how to position ads, how to get the most out of ad based systems is testimony to that.  The argument that As are not the same thing as paid articles is to some how elevate the blog post.

All bloggers, by their nature are opinionated, therefore all blogs have an angle.  For example, anyone who reads my updates on Twitter knows I don’t like iPhones. So there is not much point in reading my blog looking for something great about an iPhone here. I have an opinion and I am not afraid to share it. Therefore it would come as no great surprise to my readers if I were to make a post about the Blackberry Storm and disclose in the post that RIM had paid me to do the post.

What the RWW article misses is why brands are doing this and why Forrester would tell them its ok to do it. Its a very simple reason – scalability. Large brands are still struggling with internal discussions over where Social Media Marketing sits within the organization – I know this because some of our own clients are still having these discussion as they engage us to help us solve that question. Is it a MarCom activity, is it PR, is it Online? When you are dealing with organizations that employ tens of thousands of people and have had only one way communications for decades, figuring out how they truly engage their customers is extremely difficult. People point to companies like Zappo’s and say thats how you do it. Zappo’s employs 250 people, even at that level its still relatively easy to make it a company wide activity, try doing that with 25,000 people not all of whom are there because they love the company but because they need a paycheck.

Hiring an enthusiastic blogger to write about your product, giving them a free sample, or even, heaven forbid, actually paying them for their efforts, is a scalable way to get the word out while making adjustments internally. Is it a long term solution, in my opinion no, is it particularly imaginative, again in my opinion no. Does it work? If done right, with the right disclosure, undoubtedly.

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Phones, Phones everywhere

Posted on October 27, 2008. Filed under: Observations, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , |

Which smartphone is for you?

I am trying to decide which smart phone is right for me, it occurred to me there are probably quite a few other people trying to make the same decision, so I have pulled together the features and information that I felt were important and put them in one place so you can decide for yourself.  I make no recommendations because your needs will be different from mine. The decision can seem bewildering, not least because the iPhone has been an established model for a couple of years now, updated this year with its 3G version.  The G1 became available last week and the Blackberry Storm is not due for release until later this year.  Combine that with the fact that each of these phones is only available on individual networks all of whom offer different services and features the decision becomes even harder.  These three phones are not by any means the only choices in the Smart phone market, they are just the three that seem to be capturing the interest of most people at the moment.

Features / Phone iPhone G1 Storm
QWERTY Keyboard OnScreen Physical – Slide out  OnScreen – Landscape Mode 
TouchScreen  Yes  Yes  Yes 
One Touch Screen  Yes  Yes  Yes 
Real Web Browsing  Yes  Yes  Yes 
Camera  2.0MP  3.2MP  3.2MP 
Music Player  Yes  Yes  Yes 
GPS  Yes  Yes  Yes 
Memory  16GB internal  71MB internal / microSD  1GB / microSD 
Dimensions (in inches) 4.5 x 2.4 x 0.48  4.6 x 2.1 x 0.6  4.43 x 2.45 x 0.55 
Screen Size (in inches) 3.5  3.25  3.25 
Weight  4.70z  5.6oz  5.5oz 
Colors  Black, White  Black, Bronze  Black 
Cost – New Customer  $299.00 w/2yr contract  $179.99 w/2yr contract  $TBA but rumored to be $199.00 w/2yr contract 
Cost Existing Customer w/contract extn $399.00 $349.00 TBA 
Cost Existing customer w/o extn  $499.00  $399.00 TBA 

These are the features that I was comparing, of course there are other features that maybe more important to you, enterprise integration for example. Bear in mind the pricing I list here is as given by the companies on their websites and may vary (you can always try negotiating).

Have they got you covered?

The other big consideration is that these are smart phones because they operate on the 3G networks of the various providers that supply them.  If they arent connected to those networks then they really arent much smarter than other phones that have been available for years.

This is where 3G coverage becomes important.  Right now if you look at any of the coverage maps, it is mostly limited to major metropolitan areas.  T-mobile & AT&T provide lists of the cities they cover. Verizon provides a map (you will need to select show 3G on Verizons map) .

What is clear is that if you live outside of the major metropolitan areas you are going to be buying a phone that will not give you a huge difference in features from a lot of phones already available.  I live 40 miles outside of Austin, its doubtful that any of the services that I might be tempted by on 3G networks will work or work well in this area.

So Which Smartphone is for you?  Have you already chosen and if so what made you pick a particular phone?

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