Monday, April 04, 2005

What Makes a Fake Blog?

Bob Bly is currently my favorite work blog. Today he asks Are Sponsored Blogs Credible Marketing Tools?

This brings up a more general question, when is a blog fake?

First of all, faking it is bad news in blogland. Some PR and Advertising firms have responded to blogs by offering fake blogs to their customers. This is a bad idea. If you don't believe me, watch Hugh MacLeod take a stripe off fake bloggers here. Update: Scoble has a deeper analysis of the matter here.

Why? Because credibility is perhaps the main distinguishing benefit of blogs over other PR and Marketing activities. If you lack credibility, you're not getting value from your blog.

But what constitutes faking it? I'm not sure I have the whole answer, but here are some things that come to mind:

  • Hiring a shill to write PR pap for your company blog.
  • Fake comments
  • Paying a journalist or industry expert to promote you on their blog (thus creating a conflict of interest)

These are all bad shortcut solutions. How about some alternatives:

  • Hire someone who will engage your company and its product to blog for you, preferably someone you'd happily have talking to your customers face to face.
  • Have a good blog and your customers will supply their own comments - for free! Just be ready to supply good answers.
  • I don't think the blogosphere has that much problem with paid blogging as long its fully disclosed. It is important, however, that your blogger speak truthful, and that might include criticizing you when you make a mistake.


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