Thursday, November 20

the new insidious marketing?

I'd readily admit that I'm skeptical with a good dash of cynical to mix things up. I have no problem with that, as it's common knowledge that 'They' use subliminal, hidden and insidious tactics to reel us in to buy their product.

However, you might balk at my most recent theory, because either I'm nuts, or it's too uncomfortable to contemplate. Uncomfortable simply because we want to believe people are basically truthful. And I'm saying 'new' but I'm probably the last to work it out!

Giveaways and recommendations on blogs.

I love blogsurfing other mother bloggers. After a visit to my zillionth mommy log that was giving away a product, something began to stir within me. It was actually on a blog that wasn't giving anything away on the particular post that I was reading, but does do frequent giveaways. However, the post mentioned a cool new product that a friend tried and now she loved. It was beautifully done. Personal (seemingly) and personable. An easy writing style that made you feel like a friend.

This particular blogger gets hundreds/thousands of readers, daily. I researched the blogger and found that she isn't as upfront as you might think, or like to think. But heck, the online world allows all of us a little anonymity, fantasy, or alter ego role playing. Yet, this woman puts forth a very personal image.

Now, I could be totally wrong, totally. Or.....

Doing even more research, I uncovered that this blogger teamed up with some big names. WTF!? I'm talking not just companies, but COUNCILS.

And I also found this discussion (I'm not linking to it as I don't want to name any names):

PRFirmX and PRFirmY understand that brand conversations happen online whether you like it or not. PRFirmX encourages its clients [bloggers who've teamed up with them] to join in the conversation.
Isn't that phrased so sweetly?

You see, viral marketing is a fantastic way for companies to push their products. Another term is conversational marketing, which fits this blog marketing perfectly. I've mentioned before how they use popular children and their slumber parties to push games and toys. They have reps slither their way onto children's online networks and casually mention products. So this exists people.

Now I'm wondering, there are mommy bloggers out their who are directly employed by certain companies, or even freelance themselves out to several. But what about the ordinary folk who are paid for their insidious marketing?

Think about it. You'd rather take another mother's recommendation on a product for home or baby than just a random advertisement, right?

There is nothing wrong with making money from your website. if you put in tons of effort, posting every day, sharing tips and recipes and whatnots, then heck, leave your day job and blog for an income. But I want it upfront. I don't like anyone posing as a cutesy mother or friend and 'casually' mentioning x product.

One big name blogger (no names as I'm not interested in a debate or having anyone's groupies find me via a google search) is such a prolific blogger, and also has kids, cooks, looks after all sorts of things. I got to wondering, is it even her actually blogging? Or taken those great photos, or....?

And when recipes are highlighted as, good ole' country fare that you just have to try, in order to push a specific commodity onto the nation (such as dairy), then this has rather large repercussions - environmental, health, economic..... Think about it. A recipe is posted that uses a good load of milk. Hundreds of people comment saying they went out and made it (it happened on one blog). How many more did the same but never commented? Okay, this in itself isn't going to rock the environment. But those hundreds pass on that recipe, and on and on.... viral marketing.

Now, now, am I saying you should be suspicious of every mommy blogger (and of course ANY blogger) that does giveaways or mentions products on a regular basis?

Heck YES!

That's what it means to be a conscious consumer! To question ANY marketing.

Of course their are many legitimate bloggers out there trying to help one another with product reviews and recommendations. Ultimately though, we should research. Yep, it takes time. but it also means you become, what's the word.... oh yeah, intelligent, aware, savvy, take your pick.

Oh, looky here, Federation Media offers a pdf guide to conversational marketing, and a nice list of sites and blogs working for them. That's nice. ;)
[edit: here's a non-pdf author's list a Federated media]


  1. Right on, mon! I always tried to mention that I was not receiving compensation for any endorsement I would make.

  2. Another reason I don't tend to read "big" blogs.

  3. I think you are absolutely onto something here.

  4. Good to see you PP. Yep, be upfront, that's it.

    Anthromama - and there are some wonderful very small blogs out there. I always try to support these.

    Hey Lisa - nothings sacred ay?

  5. This is so fascinating and I only wish the PDF file had opened for me so I could check out certain suspicions. Unfortunately, the link didn't work. Do you have another one?

    I have often wondered about certain blogs. What you say is not surprising at all.

    But I must 'fess up. My favourite author, having discovered from my weblog that I liked her, sent me a copy of her new book in the hopes I would review it on my weblog. No pressure, and no requirement of a GOOD review. But she explained this was the new way of marketing. I was happy to do it (albeit surprised since I have such a tiny readership) but was also upfront with my readers about the process. Since the book was published by a small company, I was pleased to support them in this way. But it made me think twice every time I read book reviews on weblogs after that!

  6. I all but refuse to read blogs that are writing for the simple purpose of "making money" from blogging. There seems to be a large group of bloogers who are doing it. They all look alike to me and lack real personality. I don't trust blogs with giveaways either. And frankly, unless they are giving away gas or food I don't need it.

    Thanks for writing this. I would love to read more about this topic.

  7. Interesting! I've never heard of bloggers doing this. Now I'm wondering what big and fancy blogs I visit? And giveaways? I haven't seen much of this.

  8. Sarah - Thing is, there's nothing wrong with reviewing products first-hand and passing on your experience. I'd much rather read a book that someone else has rad and enjoyed, especially a favourite blogger.
    I was once sent a book as well, and I gave it a mediocre review. Perhaps that's why I've never received another one? lol

    Problem is, I suspect that many/most people find it difficult to give poor reviews when they received the product for free and hope to receive more.

    The html equivalent of the document isn't good, but I found a list of associates over here.

  9. Nina - LOL @ gas and food. I hear ya!
    And yes, you're right, there is a lack of personality and a tendency for many of them to look similar.

    Annie - good! You're surfing in better circles than me. :)

  10. Oh, you have hit the nail on the head. Rest assured there is nothing accidental when it comes to marketing. I have taught my kids from toddlerhood (now11,13) to be weary of marketing techniques. It's never too early (or late) to become savvy in these areas. Keep on thinkin' those clever thoughts Mon.

  11. I'm so thankful you've put into words something I've felt and wondered at (but not had time to research). I have a few blogs that I began reading because of a specific and helpful post, and now shudder to check because each day is a massive giveaway. I understand a mom's desire to make money while being at home, but without that upfront explanation, it just feels like I'm being used. I don't have a tv because I don't want the advertisements (among other things) in my home, and now I have to monitor the blogs I read...

  12. I hope you don't mind me leaving some thoughts on this topic. I am one of the "prolific" review and giveaway bloggers. I get dozens of pitches every day. I say no to far more than I say yes to. For the most part, I do NOT get paid. If a company sends me a product to review, I write a post about that product with my honest opinion. I watch my kids play with toys for review, then write about their experience. I give books to my boys to read, games to them to play, then ask them, tell me what you thought, and I type down their response verbatim. The only company I work with that offers any kind of financial compensation is Mom Central, who will sometimes have a $20 Amazon gift card for us instead of a product to keep. In your opinion, should I be saying in those posts that I will receive a $20 Amazon GC in exchange for participating in that blog tour? To be honest, I haven't been, but I will if you think it matters that much.

    I can't speak for anyone else, but I can assure you that I do ALL my own writing, photo-taking, and posting. I don't have an assistant or a secretary or a nanny or a housekeeper or daycare or anything else helping me.

    While I don't agree with you that readers should be "suspicious" of bloggers who write product reviews and host giveaways, I agree that no one should hide that fact. I always try to say in my posts something like "I was sent an XYX to review for this post, and I think...". At the end of Parent Bloggers Network posts, I am required to say that PBN and the sponsor provided the item I reviewed.

    I WISH I got enough traffic to qualify for Federated Media, those bloggers can make $1000 a month, and do you know how much that kind of money would help me? Just because someone has reached FM status doesn't mean you should assume that they aren't genuine in their writing. That's just my opinion.

    My comments are open and un-moderated and anyone is welcome to ask me anything they want about a product I review. I have nothing to hide. Hope you'll stop by.

  13. I think it's good to talk about this as mommy blogging has exploded so has a new arena of niche marketing.

    I remember thinking about this when I learned that Oprah's give-aways were really just ways for companies to there name out there. (my mil worships oprah).

    I also have a few blogging friends who do genuine sponsorships and give-aways and to me that means they network with other small women centered businesses and they really do like and appreciate the product and/or services so they create a mutually satisfactory relationship with each other.

    On one hand, what is sacred and what can be trusted and on the other, good for these mamas staying home, being go -getters and creating an income for their family.


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