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