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30 Aug 2012
By Annabel Brown
Aug
30
2012

Digital Parents Unplugged – Should Brands Pay Bloggers?

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Last week I was fortunate enough to attend Digital Parents Unplugged with a few of the social media team here at Telstra. Digital Parents Unplugged is an initiative of the Digital Parents community. The event allows bloggers to network with each other as well as have an opportunity to network with brands and discuss how we can work better together.

The panel discussion at Digital Parents Unplugged was very fascinating. It was moderated by Mandy Griffiths from Porter Novelli and panellists included Christopher Barger from Voce Communications, Nicole Avery from Planning with Kids, Clairey Hewitt from Clairey Hewitt and Melissa Gassman from Digital Parents Collective.  The main topic of conversation was sponsored posts and whether or not brands should be paying bloggers to write about their products or services.

During the panel discussion, I thought Christopher raised a very valid point. In the marketing mix, there is a place for marketing, PR and advertising. Each discipline has its own value proposition and its own success metric. Advertisers purchase space to position content that will entice consumers to the brand and they have full control over what the content looks like. PRs create experiences and share content in an attempt to earn positive coverage about the brand. I believe the key word here is EARN. Brands can either provide the bloggers with a remarkable experience and hope they write about that experience in an honest, authentic and transparent way, or alternatively, they can purchase a space on the blog and have full control over what gets put in that space, because they paid for it. I think the real value for the blogger, the blogger’s community and the brand is option A.

Ultimately, it’s the blogger’s readership that provides the value for the brand. The blogger has an influence over their readership and that is where the power lies. The rise in social media over the last few years has amplified the power of peer to peer recommendations. Consumers are actually trusting brand-endorsed content less and are more likely to take a recommendation from someone else who is like them, whether they know them in ‘real life’ or not. Simply look at the explosion of sites like Trip Advisor where you can log in and find out what other travellers thought of a destination or hotel before deciding whether you will travel there yourself. These reviews are carrying a lot more weight than the content being put out there by the hotel themselves. Some bloggers today carry just as much influence as sites like Trip Advisor.

Photo. Work at home Mum.

Do you think brands should be paying bloggers to write about their products and services?

Disclaimer: Telstra does not pay bloggers cash to write about our brand. We do work with bloggers and ensure that we provide them with a valuable experience but we do not pay fees

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Posts: 3

8 Comments

  1. Josh says:

    Brands should work on their core function and provide that service. If that service is great then bloggers are more likely to write on it.

    However, if a press release is particularly nice. Or, if the brand is kind to the people who speak about it it goes a long way to encourage a positive relationship between the two.

    Biased opinions, however, are never tolerated in my books.

  2. Brenda says:

    It was nice to have you and the team at DPUnplugged, Annabel. It was certainly an interesting conversation. And I’m glad that we’re having it.

    Re: compensating bloggers for their time and effort. I think this post from Social Media Explorer says it all for me. Would love to hear your thoughts about it.

    http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/online-public-relations/bloggers-are-promotional-partners-which-is-bad-for-pr/

    • Annabel says:

      Hi Brenda,
      Interesting article! I have to say that personally I share a very different view. I believe that blogger engagement should be about the strength of the relationship between the brand and blogger, combined with relevance of the content or experience we provide. As soon as this becomes about an exchange of cash – for me – this decreases the value of what we can provide and we lose the authenticity. It is an intriguing debate which I’m sure will continue as traditional and social media become more integrated.
      Annabel

  3. Great discussion — and in from my view. There isn’t a clear or “right” answer here. There is certainly room for multiple approaches, especially depending on what we want to achieve. I like to think that some of the work we do over at Rocketman is a hybrid of earned and owned media. We pay our bloggers for their time, but never their opinions. The comments, shares and social elements that come from sponsored content is earned. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I think if blogging heads down the road of ‘pay for writing’ it will just end up as incredible as ‘popular news’ today. (ie. all the major free to air news and print news).
    Im so sick of reading/watching/hearing an “”unbias”" news article on ‘the advancement of hybrid motor engines’ and then see an extended advert for a Prius in-between segments… They honestly think we are stupid…

    I think if it is the case, bloggers who don’t get paid for chat will benefit as their voices will ultimately be the ones people listen to.

    I have no problem with a blogger writing about ‘hybrid engines’ and the ‘smart adds’ (using keywords) advertising Prius’s on the side Add bars… this is fine and not overly commercialised, but then the writing has an agenda, thats when it becomes repulsive.

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