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Flog blogging

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Saturday October 21, 2006 )

First there were splogs, spam blogs – now a new twist on the blog word and the associated implications are generating much heated discussion in the blogging community. Welcome to the new world of flogging.

What is flog blogging?

Essentially, it’s being paid to blog about a product in a positive light without revealing the fact that you are recieving a payment for doing so.

A high profile public relations company was recently caught out for flogging on behalf of one of its clients in a big way; and it’s really hit the headlines of the marketing world. The incident was especially embarassing for the company as they played a role in developing the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s code of ethics, part of which states: “Honesty of identity: You never obscure your identity.”

Oops!

Basically what happened was the company employed a couple of freelance writers to blog about a major client; but it wasn’t revealed to readers that the bloggers were being paid for their posts; the contents of which of course painted the client in a very positive light. When the nature of the arrangment was revealed, many apologies were made and it seems the PR firm will be scraping egg off their faces for a while to come.

For many bloggers, flogging is a most heinous crime and unthinkable. The purists and idealists in the blogging community feel that it erodes the trust of readers – and they may well have a point. I’ve certainly noticed that I need to approach extolling the virtues of a product very carefully in blog posts, much more so than in my articles and non-blog post reviews.

To self-promote in a blog post seems fine and accepted; but to promote another company in a post or comment and giving the impression that it’s an unsolicited recommendation when you are actually being paid to write it certainly appears to be an unwritten no-no. It’s a point well worth remembering; whether you’re a blogger looking to generate revenue, or a business considering different strategies for marketing your products. Depending on the segment, the backlash from flogging may not only hit the blogger, but also the company being endorsed in such a way.

If you’re a blogger, as mentioned in a previous post on marketing products via blog posts, the way that some bloggers get around this very sensitive issue is to subtley indicate an endorsement or recommendation they’ve made that readers act upon will see the blogger receiving a payment.

For example; a blogger may post a review along with a link such as “Try X brand – click here (aff)” – where “aff” is an indication that it’s an affiliate link. Doing so will avoid you being labelled a “flogger” it seems. Heck, you may even want to consider being really up front and saying “I’m being paid to write this, but really, it’s a great product!” It just depends on your readership.

Curious as to who the company was that was caught out for flogging and then very publicly hung out to dry? Read more here (non-aff link) :)

If you are interested in “flogging” as a way to generate revenue from your blogging, or as a marketing strategy for your company; a new services has recently been launched that matches advertisers to bloggers – PayPerPost (non-aff link) :). I haven’t really dug into the ins and outs of the service and since I’m not being paid, I won’t write any sort of review of it at this stage ;).

Update November 11 2006 – another paid blogging marketplace has just been launched where you are required to disclose sponsorship on reviews you are paid to post and you don’t have to necessarily post positive reviews. Curious? Learn more about it here.

Update November 22 2006 – How do search engines view flog blogging and paid links generally? This post may hold some answers.



 

 
1 comment for Flog blogging
  1. I am always interested in learning new information about the world of websites. Thank you for explaining flogging in terms that i can understand. I am not yet website savey. But im getting there.

    Comment by Tracey — November 22, 2006 @ 9:09 am

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