Monday, November 30, 2009

Blogging and paid inclusion

Over the weekend there's been a bit of a storm in the UK social media arena regarding companies paying bloggers to post videos on their sites.

The first came in this post from Katy Lindemann, highlighting the approaches made to bloggers by GoViral (a company that I've used), including some screengrabs of emails that they send out offering payment for inclusion.

The second came from this post by Jamie Goode, highlighting that some bloggers were being paid to post videos with content for Douwe Egberts, but not declaring the payment. In fact the post rather backfired on Goode, as in the comments he was called out about the funding of trips he'd made and events he'd been to; he subsequently declared quite a long list of companies and bodies that he'd received hospitality from.

My position is that most people have a reason for blogging. In industries like marketing it's comparable to academic publishing - you write to raise your profile, and not for money. I really enjoy writing my blogs, and I've always resisted putting ads on them, because I know how little I'd get from it. However I do welcome companies sending me information and videos, because I'm always on the lookout for material to use, however I have never been offered direct financial payment for posting anything. I've been sent gadgets to try, but these generally get collected a week or so later, and if I post about them I state that I've been asked to. I also openly promote work by my own agency, or made by my friends.

But the fact is that many see blogging as a sideline that they'd like to be paid for, or compensated for in some way. I see both sides of the picture because I've also seeded content. For example I once had this email from a blog owner that I'd sent a video to:

Thanks for contacting us, we would be happy to work you and help in promoting our content. Can you please provide me some more information about the campaign and how we benefit from promoting your content.

Or, more blatantly, this:

Love you guys. I have more than 1000 readers from around the world & you ask me to stick the video on my blog for free!
I simply love the nerve. You make 000,000s of dollars & you ask for free, love it!
Good luck with your video

They both clearly wanted paying, and in this case we didn't want to do it. I have nothing against using these sorts of services, if it is clearly stated that a payment or benefit occurred.

I used to work in PR (a long time ago), and while I found it brilliant that a good, well-timed story could be placed, for free, in major newspapers, there were other times when no one would cover a story at all, and you wished you could just pay the journalists to include it.

In digital media it's pretty much a myth that you can upload a video to YouTube and it will 'go viral' - 20 hours of content are uploaded onto YouTube each minute, so it's incredibly unlikely to happen on its own. If a video has become popular, and it is promoting a brand in some way I'd estimate that a very high percentage have been promoted either by using a service like GoViral, or Unruly, paying for ads on YouTube, or on sites like BoreMe, at least in the initial stages to launch them.

It's just how it works - but clearly some people need to be more open about the payment that they receive.

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