I don't gush about a product and fail to mention I've been paid to do so. I don't rave about something that truthfully sucks because I'm being compensated. I don't lie to my readers. (oh, um, except maybe sometimes regarding age and weight... forgive me?)
It's quite clear to me how to blog with integrity.
But for some there is still concern that the lines between honest blogging and advertising are blurry. Especially when it comes to companies plying bloggers with fancy trips and free stuff in the hopes they'll share positive product reviews with their thousands of followers.
As the LA Times article noted yesterday, this type of marketing is shrewd, yes. It's advertising in a nontraditional sense.
But I for one don't find it confusing.
The bloggers who attended the Nestlé event told us they were going and why. And therefore I wasn't surprised when I saw tweets and blog posts about the event and about Nestlé products.
For the record I don't like Nestle. I decided years ago not to buy their products after reading about the company's shady operations with regard to infant formula in the third world. You know the story by now if you didn't before.
But anyway, my point is, I didn't find it confusing. I knew the bloggers were attending an event intended to promote a brand.
And quite frankly if Cadbury's invited me to a weekend of chocolate eating, fancy hotels and
I don't find it confusing when companies ask influential bloggers to attend lavish events in the hopes they'll tell their followers about it.
Nor do I find it confusing when bloggers talk about the details of an event they're attending or a product they're reviewing.
You know what I DO find confusing?
Companies that masquerade as people, or worse - friends.
Recently I watched a company use Twitter to infiltrate the mum blogging community as "one of us". The tweeter in question acted like a friend, an individual, not like a company.
She expertly gathered a large following on Twitter, building camaraderie by talking about common parenting problems and asking for advice. The marketing was so subtle it was barely noticeable.
I'm referring to the tweeter who's goal was to promote a film about a mom blogger...
The film's overall marketing campaign was very creative, enlisting popular mom bloggers to help promote the movie. The bloggers involved were open and honest about their participation and I respect them for that. I have no issue with this aspect of the movie's marketing strategy.
When the film came out in late October, and the job promoting it on Twitter was done, the tweeter - the brand - vanished. Friend and tweeter no more. Adios amigos.
You see, this is confusing, to me. Blurry.
Because when I cannot differentiate between a company marketing a product, and a friend, I have an issue.
I've seen other brands use social media to market to their audience in a more direct manner. They'll present special offers, discounts, sneak previews, reviews, contests. To me there's a big difference between this kind of open, honest advertising and the kind that involves pretending to be pals over tweets.
Something about it just doesn't sit right - the sneakiness of it, the dishonesty of behaving like a friend, holding real conversations about people's families, building fake relationships. All in the name of profit, not friendship.
I guess for me, advertising and friendship are two things that can never be combined.
But that's just my opinion. What do you think?