Tuesday, July 17, 2007

fake vs. real in blogosphere

Some bloggers will do anything to make money.

Likewise, some companies try to "game", invade, and exploit the blogosphere and socnets. You have probably heard about fake blogs and paid opinion bloggers.

Now I'm going to explain quickly why compensated product reviews, incentivized blogging, and coached comments are anti-consumer, a violation of the Trust Web, and strategically counter-productive.

Then we'll learn how to spot fakes in the blogosphere.

Wrong:

Compensated, PayPerPost, blog whoring posts and comments are fraudulent. You are making claims about a product, pretending to be a happy customer with a spontaneous remark or review. But really, you're being paid to say what you say.

Violates Trust Web:

Consumers are turning away from corporate "messaging" and advertising promotions, and seeking peer-to-peer advice from each other. While nobody's perfect, we tend to trust individuals more than institutions, especially corporate and commercial organizations.

If certain individuals are lurking with pre-paid, pre-determined, promotional messages, sponsored content, and are ready to spring it on hapless blog visitors, or post it as comments on unsuspecting blogs, we're in trouble.

We seek user testimonies. Paid Opinions ruin that system. We begin to even distrust any online person who praises or condemns, for we wonder if they're sincere and uncoached, or if they're simply prompted by commercial, financial interests, to say it.

Counter-productive:

Posing as a social networking community member is a bad idea for a commercial mercenary blogger/comment poster, and for a company.

When fake is exposed, it causes a ripple effective of extreme disgust and hostility throughout the blogosphere. We are tired of liars, posers, and arrogant con artists in business and government. We will react harshly against all instances of it. See: Dan Rather, Trent Lott, etc.

Telling the Real from the Fake:

Here are some quick tips for increasing your web savvy pertaining to imposters and subtle hype artists. The following advice is directly copy and pasted from recent Twitter messages, which have a 140 character limit.

(1) PayPerWhore posts/comments are generally brief, scripted, impersonal, branded, promotional, non-critical, and linked to an ecommerce site. (2) A genuine user, non-PayPerWhore post will usually be "it's great for X, but it's disappointing for Y, yet overall it's pretty good." A genuine user, non-PayPerWhore post will usually be "it's great for X, but it's disappointing for Y, yet overall it's pretty good." @susanreynolds I mean a real user will typically be jaded, restrained praise mixed w/doubts @theReal Quidam snarky = smart ass skeptical. Genuine blog WOM is snarky, cynical, never 100% pleased, mixes blunt idiosyncratic remarks with product feature details, real experiences. Paid Opinion Blogging, the curse of the Trust Web, often is a cold remark pointing to a commercial site. Little personality, no negativity.



Think about it this way.

If your significant other was saying sweet, adoring, romantic things to you a lot more than usual, you'd be pleased.

Pleased, that is, until you found out one black and gloomy day, that your love interest was part of a university program of ethnomethodology research on human interactions, and she was paid $10 for every sweet statement.

That would be either amusing or annoying, right? Either way, the credibility, of those comments if not others, is gone down the drain. From then on, you might have a gnawing since of incredulity every time she said or did anything complimentary to you.

Same for companies.

To pose as an ordinary forum poster, blogger, or commenter is fraudulent.

Just be your corporate self and participate in online communities with all the trustworthiness, prestige and authority your company and leadership have earned.

Publish valuable, relevant, helpful articles, with links to your products or ecommerce site, and social bookmark them or blog about them. Act like a normal member of the online community, follow their rules, and try to contribute your expertise in a non-commericial manner.

If they like you, they might buy from you.

But if they despise you, a powerful maelstrom of negative buzz could be brewing already.

3 comments:

Josh Maher said...

So are analysts, reporters, consumer reports, etc invalid? For that matter, is your site invalid? Any comment or post you make about a product (good or bad) gives your site traffic and hence hits for your advertisements....

Sorry, people get paid for their opinions all the time outside of the blogosphere, so what is so different?

Peoria Pundit said...

I cannot tell you how many times I have been tempted to reply to some troll or critic while using an alias.

Generally, I don't respond to trolls because it just gives them attention the desire.

But sometimes, people just cannot be critical or disagree without making it personal.

This is when I WANT to defend myself by using a fake name. I always resent this. My policy since I stopped anonymously blogging to to never blog anonymously. Ever. I know that I would eventually get caught, and my credibility should be gone.

The point is that you can try to fake authenticity, but it almost alwas fails.

Pay Per Post is the same thing.

Blogging is different from the MSM because it is supposed to be the raw, unvarnished trush, unpoluted by the MSM's business concerns and biases.

Taking money to promote products -- AND NOT TELLING ANYBODY? That makes you lowerer than the MSM.

steven edward streight said...

Josh: I think I explained this issue well in my post. Again: peer-to-peer is a recommendation system based on transparency and trust.

Advertising, journalism, etc. are very different from genuine Word of Mouth, and genuine WOM cannot be paid or bought or sold. It then becomes something Other Than WOM.

Ad agencies are paid to say nice things about a company On Behalf Of The Company. It's upfront. We know an ad is paid opinion.

We do not know if a blog post or comment is paid or genuine.

To lump PayPerWhore posts in with normal, legitimate advertising, journalism, etc. is naive.


Peoria Pundit: yes, you understand journalism. MSM journalists have one advantage over bloggers: they have already nailed these Infomercial vs. Editorial, and Paid or Sponsored Content issues.

MSM Journalism already forbids any PayPerWhore type behavior.