All About Content

Pay Per Shill

Posted by Melanie Phung on Saturday, July 8, 2006 at 4:50 pm

Nevermind the whole business of pitching your company’s press release to a blogger and crossing your fingers for a mention and an open dialogue about your story. A new service called Pay Per Post is starting an online marketplace to connect advertisers with bloggers looking to get paid for company-sponsored blog entries.

The pitch to advertisers is this: “Create buzz, build traffic, gain link backs for search engine ranking, syndicate content and much more. You provide the topic, our network of bloggers create the stories and post them on their individual blogs.”

Bloggers on the network will be able to go through “opportunities” like they might RFPs and pick what they are willing to do on their site. As a blogger, you then “create a post on your blog, paying attention to the Opportunity requirements the advertiser has set forth. Then submit the direct link back to us. Our team will review the content and either approve or deny the post.”

After Pay Per Post ensures the requirements have been met, money is taken out of the advertiser’s escrow account to pay the shill blogger for the posting.

As you can imagine, some people are outraged, especially since there does not appear to be any requirement for disclosing that these postings are in fact advertisements. The current issue of Business Week magazine even has a story called Polluting the Blogosphere which warns of a backlash.

Ted Murphy, Pay Per Post’s founder and the company’s blogger this weekend responded proudly: “I am meeting with a few different private equity groups next week to help blow this thing out. I am wondering if all this buzz and controversy is going to be a good thing or a bad thing. I guess the important thing to them is we are making money…”

Well, at least he’s being honest – let’s see if the paid bloggers will end up following his lead.

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Category: Blogging,Monetizing,Navel-Gazing,Paid Content

Can an Embedded Blogger Stay Objective?

Posted by Melanie Phung on Monday, June 19, 2006 at 10:07 pm

Oh my. Apparently the entertainment industry has embedded bloggers now. Let’s just hope these embedded bloggers don’t give away any information that could harm this country’s most important economic product, lest we play right into the hands of those anti-U.S.-cultural-domination zealots. Now if I could only make myself care.

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Category: Blogging

State of the Blogosphere: Q1 2006

Posted by Melanie Phung on Saturday, April 29, 2006 at 3:14 pm

Dave Sifry’s overview of the world of blogs includes the astounding estimate that the number of blogs has doubled nearly every 6 months for the last 3 years, meaning the Blogosphere is 60 times bigger than it was in the spring of 2003. The current growth rate is one new blog per second, with 55% (19.4 million) of those blogs having a lifespan of more than 3 months.

Sifry’s next “State of the Blogosphere” post promises to talk about the tagging phenomenon. Given how large the blog world has grown, one would really expect it to somewhat spontaneously organize itself somehow. Tagging, of course, is one way to organize content – by topic. And I suppose awards like The Webbies pull together the highest quality sites from a range of categories, at least at the elite level — you’ll be able to peruse the latest crop of Webby Award winners when they are announced May 9 — but that’s not really self-organization.

Since I don’t believe I blogged about some of the new features Technorati released a while back, this would be a good time to point out that you can sort your Technorati searches by levels of “authority.” Your blogs authority is measured by…. you guessed it: how many other posts link to yours.

Think of it like the New York Times Best Sellers List. The more attention you get, the more attention people think you deserve.

(One day soon there will also be the equivalent of an Oprah’s Book Club for blogs … a way to make blogs even more accessible to those who like their hands held through their media consumption.)

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Category: Blogging,Data

Blogging Steve Rubel… Ha! Made You Look

Posted by Melanie Phung on Sunday, April 2, 2006 at 10:05 pm

Couple of weeks ago I wrote about the hiccup in Wal-Mart’s blog strategy and mentioned Steve Rubel, one of the new execs at Edelmann, the PR firm behind Wal-Mart’s blog outreach. Within hours, Rubel left a comment on my blog to clarify his position. If you think he’s a regular reader of my blog and that’s how he happened to read my post, then I’ve got a bridge to sell you. You see, when your niche is online reputation monitoring and management, you make sure the tools you’re using to keep your eye on what’s being blogged about your clients are also set to track what people are saying about you.

And people do like to talk about Steve Rubel, There’s a Steve Rubel tag in Technorati, and he’s not using it himself. (C’mon kids, everyone wave “hello” to Mr. Rubel and thank him for visiting today. Oh, and no disrespect intended, just illustrating a point here.)

About a week ago, a new blog purporting to be “A Naked Journal of the PR Business” shot one across Steve Rubel’s bows with its inaugural entry. Immediately,[The next day] another blogger trashed the post as “The Worst of PR and WOM – All In One Post“, so within 24 hours there’s a blog that at that point is only about Rubel and another blogger talking about that post, and suddenly “blogging about Steve Rubel” is a “topic” in the Blogosphere.

You ever have that feeling that someone is talking about you, and then you realize that several thousand people are listening in and adding their two cents? Yeah, like that.

Rubel counters with a big yawn, focusing instead on Dale Carnegie’s basic principles for building relationships and how they apply to blogging.

Reputation monitoring seems to be a hot topic lately. There were a couple of panels devoted to the topic at SES New York. And Andy Beal has a great intro tutorial on online reputation monitoring. Last month I wrote about some ways that small businesses can improve their visibility for searches on their company name.

And last week I contributed some tips to a hapless soul who has “negative information” ranking in Yahoo for searches on his (her?) name. The approach to wiping out negative pages about an individual should differ from corporate strategy; not necessarily easier, but with a lot more opportunity for some fun and creativity. As I point out in my advice to “bergey,” you don’t even need to have your own website to dominate the first page of results.

(But as I also hint, unless you’re in the business of online reputation management or a politician, you might be kidding yourself if you think anyone but you cares what comes up when you do a search on your name. And, yes, I understand that this includes me.)

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Category: Blogging

Everyone’s Writing, But Who’s Reading Blogs?

Posted by Melanie Phung on Saturday, February 25, 2006 at 11:11 am

David Utter of WebProWorld reports on a survey conducted by Gallup: blog readership is flat or declining.

A scant 9 percent of users read blogs frequently, with 11 percent reading them occasionally. Out of the 13 activities Gallup measured in its poll, reading blogs finished dead last.

And Slate columnist Daniel Gross, contrary to the rah-rah tone of Dave Sifry’s report on the blogosphere, wonders whether blog popularity among the business sector has hit its peak. In his February 12 article, titled Twilight of the Blogs, he writes that “[t]here are troubling signs — akin to the 1999 warnings about the Internet bubble — that suggest blogs have just hit their top.”

Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Just like the Internet didn’t disappear after the bubble popped, blogging isn’t going anywhere. Too much attention, too quickly always leads to a big let down. Once the hype is over, things will come back into perspective and the best blogs will continue to provide value and exert influence.

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Category: Blogging,Data