“Dear X. I am proposing you to write two posts in your blog for two of my customers. They are both hotel chains. They offer two options: either to write a post I will be sending to you, in which case you would get 20 euros, or to write it yourself, in which case you would get 30 euros. Thanks for your time”. This is not science-fiction. It is reality in Spain. And not very ethical, from my point of view.
There is a big controversy in the US about posts written by bloggers being paid by brands. Even the Federal Trade Commission wants to impose some restrictions. But in Spain there are even some PR companies that offer this service. Their customers are mainly trying to nail Google, as this type of posts increase the chances of their sites being found on search engines. Of course Google will never know they are paying for these links, as most bloggers don’t disclose what they are doing.
It is not only unethical. It’s also ridiculous. For the following reasons, some of them taken from Adam Singer’s great post on paid blogging:
– If Google finds out, it can be a very dangerous game.
– It is making blogs so uncredible and untrustful. In fact, Julio Alonso, owner of Europe’s largest blog chain, does agree with me. Once you make a mistake in this respect, it’s going to last for ever and your blog will always be viewed by the reader as influenced by money.
– Blogging is very much about talking and creating conversations. This type of posts don’t create any conversation and will die by themselves. Blogs that sell posts are actually never going to make it to any relevant.
– For the advertised company it can become a problem of trustfulness if customers find out that its products are not as good as the blogger said.
And no, I don’t think that social media is dead, though some people will kill it if they keep abusing it.