Everyone’s clamoring to become a part of the social media scene… to be heard and understood as well as to understand. To some businesses this integration is only natural. To others it can be like swimming on dry land. Que sera, sera… but we can’t just stand by the wayside as the entire market transforms. Conversation on these issues was rampant at Chicago’s Search Engine Strategies. Sharing their opinion (and business sense), Marketing Pilgrim‘s Andy Beal & Converseon CEO, Robert Key had a discussion with Mike McDonald of WebProNews during the conference.
What’s our point of entry? Can we fund bloggers to spread the gospel of our products and services? Is this even ethical?
“Everybody’s trying to figure out this concept of ‘incentivized’ word-of-mouth marketing and (I think) the issue is about transparency…” With scandals such as the WalMart blogging fiasco, Key believes this the chief problem.
Reputation seems to be preserved through disclosing sponsors, preserving trust for both blogger and business. Yet Beal warns of alternate issues.
“One of the disturbing things that I’ve seen is a complete overreaction by a lot of bloggers to the point where they’re being too aggressive in disclosing… I’ve seen bloggers write positive things about a company… [and feel] like they need to put a disclaimer [on their blog] to say… ‘Hey we weren’t paid to write this. We just like it!’ That’s not the path that we should go down.”
Even if these risks seem too shaky to bear participation, good business still follows trend.
Said Beal, “Companies tend to be late in their reaction. They don’t pay any attention until it actually affects them. The conversations are going on… you can either put your hands over your ears or you can listen and potentially engage… A company should be aware… even if they’re not ready to pull the trigger and jump into the mix.”
Social media brings us ever closer to our customers and seems to empower nearly anyone to make or break our business. Yet, if we can’t recognize its benefit and everyone’s gain, then we’re lost.