It’s something my company, Marqui, pioneered four years ago, and (in doing so) launched an ethical debate that still rages today. This week there have been some very interesting debates on the ethics of sponsored social media because Forrester just issued a report called “Add Sponsored Conversations to your Toolbox.”
(I have to admit, I haven’t read it. At $749, I wonder how many will download the 8-page document… but I digress.)
Over at RWW, Marshall Kirkpatrick took issue with Forrester’s stance in a post titled “Forrester is Wrong about Paying Bloggers“. There’s fascinating dialogue between Marshall and Jeremiah Owyang, (one of the authors of the report) in the comments, as well as others chiming in - so take a moment to read them if you can.
In a post on his personal blog yesterday, Jeremiah listed brands and how they’re paying for marketing their products through the social web - including bloggers.Â From Dairy Queen to Mercedes, big brands are experimenting with social media and enticing others with offers to play with them.
I’m absolutely fine with that, but did find (at Marqui) that our brand’s voice wasn’t heard in the debate until we began blogging ourselves, and engaging in the conversations that we were pulled into once the firestorm broke out.
The is NO substitute for having a seat at the table when people are talking about you - and yes, even for you.
So go ahead. Let folks drive your cars, eat your bars and give coupons to their readers… why not? But there are three things you must embrace - having been the impetus of this great debate - from WOMMA’sÂ Code of Ethics:
Honesty of Relationship: You say who you’re speaking for
Honesty of Opinion: You say what you believe
Honesty of Identity: You never obscure your identity
And I have to admit, it’s fun to watch the sparks fly, four years later, and have them scorching others for once. My hair’s grown back and I’m now concentrating on helping brands protect themselves from what I had to go through in the olden days…