Where I stand on the whole “pay-per-blog/sponsored tweets” thing.

I’m against it.

Now before you start throwing all the semantics at me, let me ‘splain.

I know that a lot of people who are questioning the practice of pay-per-post and sponsored tweets are talking about the disclosure policies and the trouble with enforcing them. But let’s put that aside for a moment, shall we?

Here’s the biggest problem I have with it:

People who normally wouldn’t be talking about you are talking about you. Like a soccer mom who is posting or tweeting about a plasma cutting company. Or an undergrad getting paid to push out messages about snow tires. Come on, really?

You’re paying people to talk about you. Paying them. In the vast majority of cases, there’s no quality of content there. It does not matter to me that they can say what they want about their “sponsor’s” product. If you have to get paid to talk about something, I’m immediately going to question your motivation, which I’ll assume is cash. Not my best interests or the best interests of well, anyone really.

So now you say to me, “Spike, you write about your clients all the time and don’t they pay you?” They don’t pay me to write anything. They don’t tell me to write anything. And guess what? As Eric Dodds pointed out in our conversation this week, I’m legally accountable to Brains on Fire.

And now you ask, “What about the leaders of the movements Brains on Fire creates? They get paid to blog and tweet.” Great point. They do. But they are paid employees for the client. They are legally responsible for what they say and they go through intense training to teach them how to be transparent and honest. No exceptions. And since there are only a handful of leaders for each movement, we can enforce those things.

If we have some sort of “relationship” on any SM platforms and I find out – through you being transparent or other ways – that you are getting paid to talk about something through a program like this, I’ll unfollow, unfriend and un-anything else I can think of because you have sold your credibility. And if you can be bought, then I can’t trust you.

A lot of people say that there are many gray areas with this issue, but I don’t see it that way. And if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. I think Ted Murphy and the folks at IZEA are brilliant and are making truckloads of money. But I don’t have to like it. This is advertising at its worst. Is it the best thing for your customers? Is it the best thing for your company? Doubtful.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

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