The greatest thing about online media is that it is out of control. There is no censorship, it is not controlled (alright we are leaving Google and the Chinese government out of this one) and people write what they want.
What makes social media bloggers unique compared to all other online information is their voice. It’s a single person talking about what he or she cares and are most passionate about. A blogger owns his inspiration, his voice, and is ready to let the world know his own opinion, what he is supporting or if he is taking a stand against something. Bloggers are credible communicators, because what they express is their own.
Bloggers increase PR value
Causes or brands have started to reach out to bloggers due to the bloggers’ ability to create a buzz online and create awareness around a certain issue, campaign or product. They have the ability to greatly improve the visibility around a campaign or product in the social media sphere. Their links to whichever product or campaign being mentioned automatically improves search rankings for who or what they are promoting, and as such, bloggers are an incredible valuable marketing tool.
The credibility bloggers have built up over time shows that their reason for blogging about something (i.e. what they are ‘promoting’ or ‘marketing’) is driven by passion. Credibility and transparency is part of what makes bloggers so cool.
I have always considered bloggers to be somewhat of a grass root movement in the sense that they are fighting or toying around with their cause. However a new trend is emerging where bloggers are joining a network, where the top de la crème of bloggers are being paid for blogging or mentioning a cause a charity or a company wants a buzz created about on their blog. As a consequence, freelance bloggers are slowly emerging on the social media scene.
A number of bloggers are approached when campaigns start off to help promote a worthy cause they are interested in supporting or have previously shown interest in mentioning certain types of campaigns/products etc. Up to this point, famous bloggers have been doing this free of charge, but this is changing, and bloggers can now be hired for their promotional services. The issue that surfaces is whether this will make bloggers loose their credibility, as people who follow a specific blog or blogger will not be able to distinguish whether they are promoting it because they feel it is worth talking about or whether it is because they are being paid to create a buzz about a certain topic.
Acknowledge bloggers’ individual opinion
The approach to use if bloggers should remain credibility is to not pay bloggers for their opinion. You can still do blogger outreach offering the bloggers free hands in terms of shaping their own opinion about supporting a cause, a campaign or product. It’s simply a matter of asking them if they want to support the cause or want to endorse products that needs promoting.
There is nothing wrong with getting paid for what you do, and I am in favour of getting paid for hard labour. The problem here is that if you want your cause, campaign or product to be promoted and have a mention on a blog, this option will cost you something. I will refrain from elaborating on how unethical and morally wrong I feel this is, as the underlying issue here is the lack of credibility and trust in bloggers. A deeper and more crucial issue regarding this is the fact that it affects the credibility of the grass root bloggers. The lack of ability of audiences to identify transparency in who is promoting a cause or a product is an issue as the audience won’t know whether the bloggers are being paid to talk about it. It will definitely be interesting to follow this development over the next few months and see what happens. Word to the people!