Blogs, Splogs, Flogs?
So first “splogs” or blogs filled entirely with spam clutter up the web, and now it looks like we have to deal with “flogs” or blogs totally set up by corporate interests but made to look like some ordinary person(s) are writing it. Supposedly there was a pro-Wal-Mart blog called “Wal-Marting Across America” featuring a journey across America, stopping in different Wal-Mart parking lots nationwide. It was exposed that this blog was actually set up by a Wal-Mart PR firm.
Related to this issue is a new service called PayPerPost, a company that basically asks bloggers to sign up and write positive posts about products. If they like what you write they’ll pay you $5 to $20. However, the blogger doesn’t have to disclose this fact and since PayPerPost has to approve the post before the blogger is paid, the implication is that they’ll only pay you for positive reviews. Which is kind of silly, I mean, how credible would Ebert and Roeper be with thumbs that permanently pointed “up”?
Anyhow, the first Wal-Mart situation is kind of sadly funny because the original idea of the PR firm was to paint Wal-Mart in a positive light, but the end result as the word spreads that it was practically a put-on is going to be negative. So instead of enhancing Wal-Mart’s brand the PR firm is degrading it.
This negative effect could possibly happen to PayPerPost as well. Any blogger who signs onto this deal should be wary about personal integrity. It’s one thing to write positive reviews of stuff you really enjoy, but it’s another to put money first and become a shill for something you would never buy or use yourself. I guess we all have our price and lines we draw in the sand. But instead of some brand taking the brunt of the negative blowback, it could be your blog, your reputation, and your credibility as a blogger that takes a hit.
So be careful, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing more “flogs” pop up in the future. Luckily, the internet population seems to have finely tuned BS detectors.