How To Make Sponsored Conversations Work

Although Controversial, Sponsored Conversations are Here to Stay
Sponsored conversations, although controversial, aren’t going away. In fact during recession, they will likely increase. Update: See this growing list of bloggers and brands that have participated in sponsored conversations.

Despite the demand that brands desire to reach communities, and bloggers desire to monetize and help their community, it’s important this transaction is done ethically and is sustainable for the long run. People get very emotional about this topic, so before you comment, twitter, or blog about these changes, first read my entire post, then Sean Corcoran’s to get the whole story.

How controversial is this topic? very. In fact, I previously highlighted both the opportunities and risks when I twittered and blogged about Kmart’s sponsored blogger hit the social sphere, which resulted in a flurry of discussions.

Doing it Right: How To Make Sponsored Conversations Work
Despite how sticky this topic is, our clients lean on us for the tough answers, so we’ve done just that in our latest report for clients. Sean Corcoran states the requirements are:

“1) sponsorship transparency and 2) blogger authenticity.

Sponsorship transparency means that both the marketer and the blogger must make it absolutely clear to the reader community that they are reading paid content think of Google Adwords “Sponsored Links.” Blogger authenticity means that the blogger should have complete freedom to write in their own voice even if the content they write about the brand is negative.”

First, Analyze if Sponsored Conversations are Right for You
Even with these in place, this isn’t right for every brand nor blogger. Some brands, that already have a natural conversation in the market don’t need to reach these influentials. Secondly, this isn’t right for every blogger, as to be authentic (and therefore sustainable) they should only participate in discussions that match up to their editorial agenda, are believable by their community, and don’t jeopardize the trust with readers. One challenge bloggers will grapple with is they primarily talk about topic X, then switch to a paid topic Y, some may readers may question the credibility –even if they find a different venue on a different blog.

Examples: Seaworld, Seagate, Panasonic, Symantec, Walmart
I learned from Izea that Seaworld has paid bloggers to attend their park in Florida and paid their expenses, but not cash. They were also awarded a free pass to award their readers. For a couple of years now, Seagate has sponsored Scoble’s Fast Company show, which gets mentions from his blog, in which he visited their factory in China. I learned from Crayon that they worked with Panasonic who paid travel and expenses for bloggers to attend CES, with full disclose. I met with Blogher last week and found out that Symantec worked with bloggers to offer products for paid reviews, with disclosures up front (yet not in the normal editorial stream). However, not all conversations need to pay bloggers, in fact WalMart to learn how they created a blogging network for mom and dad bloggers –without paying them, except for expenses to visit their headquarters and products were provided to review.

Update: I’ve started an ongoing list of sponsored conversations, many of the brands –and blogs– you’ll recognize.

Variations on Policy must Standardize for Long Term Sustainability
Not every brand is doing it right, I’ve seen some examples where the disclosure isn’t fully apparent, or is hidden in the language, so bloggers, and blog networks, need to do a better mandating transparency and authenticity. While ethics are certainly at play, by not disclosing, it erodes at the ecosystem, and will make the model unsustainable.

To appropriately close with disclosure and transparency, in case you’re new to this blog, I’m an employee at Forrester Research, and I stand by the report we published.

Related Resources
I’ll be updating this section as I see voices that add to the discussion –not just rehash.

  • Sean Corcoran, the author of this report, gives his summary (same link as above)
  • Colleague Josh Bernoff writes his take on the Groundswell blog
  • Steve Rubel says we’re on track, but this isn’t anything new
  • Ted Murphy, the CEO of Izea, and primary instigator of paid blogging, shares his thoughts, when he first started this, disclosure was optional, and now they’re following a code of ethics.
  • Read Write Web: Forrester Is Wrong About Sponsored Conversations. We respect RWW, and welcome Marshall’s interesting perspective, except that they prove our point as they have transparent sponsored blog posts from advertisers in their own editorial stream.
  • Matt Cutts from Google reminds all sponsored bloggers the dangers and impacts of doing sponsored blog posts. He says “My bottom-line recommendation is simple: paid posts should not pass PageRank.” In our conversations with Ted Murphy of Izea, he says he gets around this by using “no-follow” in his linking.
  • B.L. Ochman who has a Journalism Degree says Forrester: Sponsored Conversation is Here to Stay. Get Over It
  • Chris Brogan, writes in The Righteous Web in response to RWW
  • The smart folks at eConsultancy point out the dangers –and solutions— to search engine marketing with sponsored conversations. I point out in the comments that IZEA has already worked this out, although other blog networks haven’t.
  • Adweek weighs in: ‘Influencer Programs’ likely to spread.
  • Search Engine Journal chimes in with some thoughtful questions around the impacts to search.
  • Steve Groves pontificates Payola in the Blog-sphere – ReadWriteWeb’s Proclamation
  • Jim Benson suggests that we should be Voting With Our Feet The Ethics of Sponsored Conversations
  • Joseph Jaffe, a Marketer who organizes sponsored conversations as well as participates in them gives his point of view.
  • Jason says that bloggers need an oath, beyond transparency and authenticity.
  • Broadstuff says we got it wrong, yet the ultimate test is on the bloggers and brands –we agree.
  • Ad Week: Points out that the no follow rule is key for sponsored posts, AND Google is enforcing this.
  • Ogilvy’s John Bell points out there’s a difference between word of mouth and paid media, good points.
  • Sponsored Conversations

    131 Replies to “How To Make Sponsored Conversations Work”

    1. I think this is a natural fit for bloggers, but it can be a fine line. If the trust you have with your audience erodes because of any bias (real or perceived) then you become less valuable as a media venue for advertisers and sponsors.

      This happens even outside of true sponsorship. Does a blogger really like Kindle or is he in it just for the affiliate revenue?

      I actually see a future for sponsored conversations on FriendFeed.

      It’s already happening without the sponsors, so why not allow brands to participate?

    2. As long as full disclosure is given, and the review is an honest one, it works. Unlike celebrity endorsements in the past, which left me wondering if the person actually used the product or was just saying so for the money, product reviews by real people tend to sway me more. I still have the lingering question as to whether they actually use the product, but if it’s something that fits into their daily lives, like Walmart for example, I’m more likely to believe it.

    3. The missing piece, of course, is where brands can sponsor articles that align with their branding objectives. They get the SEO benefits, the PR benefits and the branding benefits without all the gray area around requiring bloggers to write about *them*.

    4. The fine line is one that will ultimately be decided by readers. If a blogger is presented with an opportunity to participate in a sponsored conversation he/she must do it in a way that will not alienate their readers. If they do it the wrong way, their readers will leave and subsequent opportunities will go away because the base is now smaller. So basically, economics will drive us to the sweet spot of balancing authenticity and influenced.

    5. I think this will bring the Digital Media and the best of content creators to the attention of the general reading public who have given up old media. Sponsorship will create quality ! I have Kindle would love all my favorites at my fingertips-

    6. To me, this issue is very similar to the “advertorial” issue in mainstream news outlets. As you say, it’s really critical to get it right. Disclosure is paramount for the blogger (the louder, the better) and brands must understand that paying for posts does not mean they get to “control the conversation.”

      Negative content about the brand represents an opportunity for said brand to learn something. One hopes they will come to understand that fact.

      I’m wondering if certain niches would be more open to this sort of thing. For example, I would think that business bloggers would get less grief about sponsored posts, given their orientation and presumably that of their audience.

    7. I agree with Jeremy they SEO impacts can be pig especially if the blogger has the “juice”. Sponsored content it is here and I think that it offers brands a strong opportunity for buzz and community building at a low cost. Bloggers who aren’t transparent though will get punished.

    8. A couple of relevant points

      1. Paid links need to have nofollow on the blog, or the article has to somehow be blocked from being indexed, or the links from being indexed.
      2. Links in feeds in theory don’t need to nofollowed, and if a blogger has syndication arrangements, on a selective basis, the syndicate site can choose to leave nofollow off (editorial control)
      3. Affiliate links don’t need to be nofollow – product samples can be provided, and the affiliate can gain their reward from sales
      4. Disclosure should carry over to feeds within the content

    9. Bloggers really have to be honest with themselves and gauge their audience. If they believe their credibility won’t be damaged through sponsored posts/content, then there’s no problem. Disclosure and transparency across the board is critical for this to work and even then some readers may be turned off.

    10. Maybe it’s just me or my own corporate experience, but this seems like much ado about nothing. Corporate sponsorship isn’t something new.

      I agree with comments about the need for transparency but hasn’t that always been the case? As Jeremiah showed in his article above, companies have always sought to sway folks via PR events and goodwill efforts.

      The situation has also always been a case of balance in determining what is appropriate for an influencer to accept. Some sponsorship could be a no-no because it’s so extravagant an influencer feels to beholden to the sponsor.

      One last thought. We shouldn’t underestimate readers. If a blogger is transparent about sponsorship, then let the reader decide on the validity of what is written.

    11. We know that there are people for whom “paid” = “unreliable.” That’s a given. The majority will use a “sniff test” to determine a blogger’s credibility. If you’ve earned credibility in the past you’re likely to be given the benefit of the doubt, like Chris Brogan was. If you’re just starting out or have given readers reason to question your objectivity in the past, you’re likely to be viewed skeptically. And, of course, there are those people who will believe anything they read, in which case your credibility is insignificant.

      Thanks for releasing this info.

    12. Hello Jeremiah,

      Maybe it’s the title, but I read “sponsored conversations”, I thought Twitter / FriendFeed … How they can monetize feeds or rooms ? A friend company tried to monetize music artists’s fan base by selling ad spaces and SMS packages on a Twitter-like ( , now done, see for info in French) we launched in 2007, but as it was a side project it did not really take off (also too early) so we had to shut it down.

    13. Jeremiah,
      Great post. I purchased the briefing this morning and thought it was very balanced and insightful. Thank you for inviting IZEA to participate in your research.

    14. Jeremiah,

      I have a couple of contentions with your view.

      Last week i visited Porter Novelli, a reputed PR agency (i visited their Canada office) To get one of their clients’ products noticed, they picked up fashion editors from their homes, drove them to the office in a limousine and showed them interesting things about the product on the way.

      Now i am pretty sure that the editors did not disclose that they were driven to work by a particular brand.

      Should they have disclosed that they were pampered?

      If the mainstream media thinks that its fine, then why should the online media budge?

      Further, what about press conferences in fancy hotels where journalists are fed to their hearts content? And given some goodies – I know it’s only food and bits and pieces of some other useless trash but how is that any different to say a blogger being invited to Sea World or Disneyland to sample the experience?

      If consumers of offline media (who tend to often be consumers of online media too) are happy turning a blind eye to the fact that journalists who write their newspapers may have not been completely honest about their ‘experiences’ while covering a particular story, why should bloggers bother?

      On ethical grounds what you are suggesting is fine. Its some sort of a diplomatic middleground but as stated, i have my concerns.

    15. External authenticity is for sure the key to this being done well. But internal authenticity is important as well – meaning does this social conversation truly reflect who I am as a brand? Hype can too often persuade marketers to move quickly and not smartly. Going where they shouldn’t go next and not going where it is important to do so.

      An example: we are seeing on Twitter the same thing we saw back in 1994 and 1995 where corporate names (then URLs, now Twitter handles, like @TargetINC) are not the actual company voice. This is a big issue companies/brands need to address.

      Great article and summation – thanks!

    16. We (Beeline Labs) produce a growing roster of group thought leadership blogs supported by sponsors (including FASTforwardblog and The AppGap) — and we couldn’t agree more with the importance of transparency and disclosure.

      We’d also like to add three pieces of advice:

      1. The conversation must have a purpose. It has to be about more than the sponsor’s brand, or even the specific product category the brand is selling in to. It needs to be about an idea, a trend, a topic that’s picking up momentum, a category that’s emerging and in which there are — or need to be — different points of view.

      2. Make “the company they keep” and the opportunity for bloggers to reach a broader audience more valuable than any compensation they may receive. It’s being in the company of a rich mix of other talented thinkers and the quality of the platform on which they can share ideas important to them that attracts and engages the best editorial talent, which in turn produces the best content and conversation.

      3. Sponsors should participate (judiciously, and disclosed as sponsors) in the conversation, demonstrating genuine interest and depth in the topic. If the sponsor has nothing to say, they shouldn’t sponsor the conversation.

      We’re soon publishing more on this on Beeline Labs’ blog. Jeremiah, thanks for furthering the… conversation. All new ideas benefit from both experimentation and a growing body of proven practices.

    17. Hi Jeremiah

      I think the research misses a really important distinction between the different results you get as a result of a creative and well planned and executed blogger outreach campaign versus a pay-per-post campaign.

      Although Forrester might choose to classify both as “buzz”, the first can generate genuine and emotive Word of Mouth, while the second just generates advertorials.

      People see straight through content ˜influencers™ (or anyone else for that matter) have been paid to create, and are cynical even of editorial copy. On the other hand, various studies show is that genuine Word of Mouth is very persuasive (and perhaps counterintuitively, especially if it isn™t 100% positive).

      It would be good to know if this was taken into account in the report or not.

    18. Robin

      Agreed. this is sponsored conversations, not blogger outreach or PR. It’s akin to Press and Media relations vs an advertorial on their site. The examples and specifics we gave the report make it clear the difference.

    19. It will be interesting to see if sponsored content will create sustainable business model for bloggers and what approach brands will continue to use to build trust between them and consumers. I blogged about the whole transparency issue also here:

    20. Great article J. Transparency is key, yes but there’s a certain group think effect with sponsored conversations which might be worth discussing. By group think, I simply mean that a conversation sponsored by Acme Co. is likely to attract fans of Acme and take on a “advertisement” feel.

      Note this is this is independent of any censoring or pulling sponsorship away from conversations they deem damaging.

    21. Clear disclosure of sponsorship is critical, and that includes disclosure for search engines. If link in a paid post would affect search engines, that link should not pass PageRank (e.g. by using the nofollow attribute). Google — and other search engines — do take action which can include demoting sites that sell links that pass PageRank, for example.

    22. I agree that disclosure is key, but that’s nothing new. It’s always up to the reader. Whenever I see “paid advertisement” at the top of a Washington Post page that’s printed to look like the editorial content in the rest of the publication, I automatically apply a different set of standards to the advertising, since that’s what it is. The Washington Post frequently runs sections sponsored by foreign government, for example, and that fact is clearly displayed even though the typography and design copies the rest of the paper. It’s no different than when an interest group, company, or lobbyist buys a page in the Washington Post to sell its ideas to Congress. I immediately apply a different set of values to the content and that automatically means I simply assume the content is one sided and is making no attempt at objectivity. The same goes with sponsored blog posts, whether by an A-lister or someone like me. The minute you say something is sponsored, I’ll automatically assume it may not be as objective or as straightforward as the rest of what you write. And that’s fine; it should always be up to the reader to accept or reject a point of view.

      As far as modifying link attributes to account for sponsorship, I think that’s a rat’s nest of problems since there are so many different influences on why someone incorporates a link in a publication. In my blog I frequently link to other posts I’ve written since my blog is how I promote my consulting and professional intersts. Does that mean my links should be treated differently by Google since I’m not “objective” with how I apply them? Good luck trying to keep track of such things! Once you start classifying links by sponsorship status you’re on your way to classifying links as political, as violent, as sexually explicit, etc. etc. Good luck!

    23. I might be jumping in a bit late but I only really thought of this, but I think if brands want to reach out to communities through blogger, personally I would respond to brands that give some sort of benefit to that community as a whole and not just the blogger.

      If for instance, Wal-mart gave all the readers of person x’s a special discount code, we as readers would appreciate that direct consideration a lot more than anything they might be able to pay the blog writer to review (though it might still be expected).

    24. Robert – $800 a rip off? Not that I purchased the report but the dollar amount boils down to ROI. If one pays Forester $749 for this report and it generates a return of more than $749 then it is probably worth it, right? If not, they get their money back, and they have three weeks to do so. That doesn’t seem like such a rip off to me.

    25. RE: Harshil Karia March 2nd, 2009 10:47 am

      There is no question that the current mainstream press is ‘courted’ by those of “us” that want their attention and that when they do write an article about our product or service that they do not disclose the degree to which they have been courted. This is just the way it has been and the way it will be …

      Except …

      the mainstream media is losing market share, laying off reporters, shutting their doors, or changing their ways. Perhaps the lack of transparency is catching up with them. Aren’t we all a little tired of the same ol same ol?

    26. Alex, that’s right (although that wasn’t the real Robert Scoble)

      We stand behind our products and have a money back guarantee, read here:

      For what it’s worth, most of our clients get access to our hundreds of reports as they have an ongoing relationship and subscription.

      In today’s age, it seems hard to imagine that people would pay for information, but research takes time, money, and resources. Just like you have your products and your company, reports are one of ours.

    27. Dennis, a fair point, but I think that the attitude here is more of “yes I am getting to paid to tell you I love this” is better than “I love this “.

      Tiger probably doesn’t really use Accenture to consult him on his business, or at least he doesn’t pay them. Bill Mays probably does use Oxyclean, but that relationship is very clear to anyone who sees one of his infomercials.

      The Chinese Wall between the business and the editorial departments has crumbled. There is an ever growing flow of sensationalism in the news that is intended to increase eyeballs … for revenue. It is not real news.

      The refreshing thing that is coming, as has been repeated over and over here, is that the trend is to not just give an opinion, but to actually give the “why” the opinion is being given. This is the essence of transparency.

    28. Reputation is key. Sponsers will pay for reputation – benefits of random blog posting would simply erode trust for all concerned.

      Leo Laporte has stated he only will use sponsors that he believes in and likes their products. Transparency could bring good faith to this service, but it will take time to establish.

    29. I’m jumping in kind of late as I got this link through another channel. I believe that everyone has the right to their opinion, but that ultimately the market will decide what does or does not work. We can discuss what should or should not be done, but there will always be exceptions and if those make money, those will be the policies that prevail. Darwinian evolution as applied to the social web….its got us this far already.

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    31. It’s getting to the point where we need to start telling people to ignore everything Matt Cutts (head of Google’s Web Spam team) says about paid posts, paid links, etc.

      Matt clearly has an agenda and he has more than once crossed the moral and ethical line in misleading people about the situation with paid posts and paid blogging.

      Google is demanding (without justification) that the blogging and Web promotion communities make Google’s ridiculous PageRank methodologies work. PageRank has always been founded on an irrational and naive concept — that links represent votes or endorsements.

      That has never been the case. The Math Union publbished a study last year which shows that Citation Analysis — the foundation of PageRank — is fundamentally flawed and unreliable.

      Google has been bullying and punishing Web sites that don’t comply with their guidelines, guidelines which are only designed to advance Google’s profitability as a search engine.

      Google does not speak for the Web and it does not set the rules by which Webmasters need to live.

      Hundreds of millions of people use other search engines besides Google every month. We don’t need to plan our days by what Google wants us to do.

      Google’s guidelines are not an acceptable standard for Web publishing behavior because Google frequently violates those guidelines itself, because Google only gives lip service to punishing major brands that violate those guidelines, and because Google’s ranking methodologies are patently unfair to the average Webmaster anyway.

      Just ignore Google from now on when it comes to talking about “disclosure”. They’ve lost the moral high ground on this issue.

      It’s time for Google to start disclosing more openly which pages are Supplemental.

      It’s time for Google to start disclosing more openly why those irrelevant pages get listed first above the most relevant content.

      It’s time for Google to start disclosing why it systematically rewards bad behavior from big brand sites.

      It’s time for Google to start disclosing why its search results suck.

      It’s time for Google to stop being hypocritical.

    32. Thorough piece, Jermiah. Well Done. Most of the comments raise excellent points and I won’t dupe but wanted to point out the irony that you listed “genuine’ as a benefit of Sponsored Conversation and then “trust” as a challenge.

    33. Jeremiah – I don’t know if you are coming to sxsw, but I would sure as heck love to sit down on video with you and discuss this topic – in fact any other with skin in the game can participate too – I think your view has changed several times – and it feels like a couple great salesmen have been able to sway you.

      As to Matt Cutts – the entire paid shilling post shouldn’t be indexed in Google – not just the links – I called for this two years ago. Let me wrap content that shouldn’t be indexed with a tag just like you do with adsense. Who cares if the link to our favorite kmart is nofollowed when the blogger will rank well for the terms in the post and still drive the traffic as a pass-thru.

      Let’s also remember that the terms “sponsored conversations” – someone just tried to put a sexy name to something that is not. If you look at your example of chris brogan’s paid kmart post, the comments aren’t conversations, 99% of them are just “enter me”. That’s not how conversations work.

      I can’t afford $750 for your report but just saying “oh there needs to be a disclosure” means absolutely nothing.

    34. Do not underestimate the intelligence of the user. Whatever “sponsored conversations” are called (sponsored links, sponsored posts, advertorials (blogvertorials) or product placements) they are fairly easily recognizable and has a rightful place in information sharing, albeit about products or services. And, not in the least, banners are terribly boring. Three cheers for the modern marketplace.

    35. This is a discussion that has been going on for decades in the world of travel journalism. The tourism industry sponsors travel writers to visit their destinations/properties with the well-founded hope that the writers will place their stories in the media. It’s cheaper than advertising for the tourism industry, and the resulting articles have more credibility and are therefore more likely to influence a travel decision.

      You can see the problem of course: if a writer is flown to Hawaii and put up at the Four Seasons free of charge, is s/he then able to write an unbiased story? Or is the resulting piece merely advertorial-in-sheep’s-clothing?

      Some mainstream media (back when papers still HAD a travel section–or any section for that matter!) refused to accept articles resulting from sponsored trips. (And I know for a fact that despite their best intentions, such articles still slipped through.) But most other magazines and newspapers turned a blind eye and accepted content resulting from sponsored trips AS LONG AS IT WAS GOOD WRITING AND THEREFORE GOOD READING. Editors who are not in the pocket of their advertising department can smell graft at 50 paces and will simply delete a press release trying to pass as journalism.

      But now,with the demise of traditional media, this problem has arisen for bloggers. I have recently accepted my first sponsor, Tourism Niagara, at my Canadian travel blog: They are going to place a button ad on my blog, and three or four times a year, I am going to blog about their region. But I get to pick what I write about and I will not have to pass my copy through them first. It’s up to me what I write–and in my line of work–travel and tourism–there is ALWAYS something useful and interesting to write about.

      I do not feel conflicted about this, any more than I did when I accepted a sponsored trip in the past. I never promise anyone anything in terms of content–only that I will try to place a story if I find a story worth telling on my travels. I have annoyed some travel sponsors in the past because I have been forthright in my appraisal of their destination. They may not have been happy, but my readers and editors were. And I have been a successful (read: well-paid and frequently published) travel writer now for almost 20 years.

      I am careful to mention in my “About” section that although I am sometimes hosted gratis, my blog content is genuine and no-strings-attached. I will also, when I add my new sponsor’s ad in the next few weeks, make the sponsorship clear, and add a comment about what sponsorship means at my site.

      This is an important conversation, and the blogging community has much to learn from the hard lessons already learned by their colleagues in traditional media.

      I think sponsored blogs are one ideal solution to the question of how to monetize the blogosphere. From a marketers point of view, it’s an ideal fit for a tourism agency to be able to place an ad on a successful tourism blog that complements their product/destination. And just as with magazines (well, SOME magazines), just because you bought an ad doesn’t mean you bought the editors!

      Julie Ovenell-Carter

    36. Jeremiah, I’ve staunchly opposed the idea of “sponsored conversations” for years. I believe that editorial and advertorial should be distant relatives, if related at all.

      I know this form of “journalism” pervades every type of media, so it’s not surprising that it has crept (or leapt) into new media as well.

      Above all, however, I’m a pragmatist and realize that, like it or not, this new business model is not going away. Given that, I believe its incumbent upon those of us who cherish the dignity of this medium to come together and create an ethical standard by which we all can abide.

      As you well know, blogger ethics been a topic of conversation for years, one that’s been met with equal shares of derision and ridicule by many.

      We’ve feigned the notion that new media is a territory that exists outside the realm of governance, one where each person does what is right in his own eyes. Given that new media is becoming more and more mainstream, that argument is archaic.

      I propose one of two tactics:

      1. A workgroup be formed sponsored by an objective third-party which does the grunt work of creating such a standard.

      or, and more preferably

      2. A summit be convened consisting of all the major players who would have a vested interest in the outcome.

      As president of the International Blogging and New Media Association (IBNMA), I would have great interest in offering our organization to serve the role as sponsor. I think we are ideally-suited for a number of reasons, not the least of which is our only interest is in pursuing that which is best for the social media “industry” as a whole. We take no official position on this matter, so our judgment as an organization is not swayed in either direction.

      Alternatively, I could see both IBNMA and Social Media Club serving in joint partnership, and maybe some other entities as well (Blog Council, SNCR for example.)

      I also suggest that BlogWorld and New Media Expo be the venue where such a summit takes place. A day could be set aside in advance of BWE proper.

      The bottom line: It’s time we come together and do the hard work of ensuring that transparency and authenticity, which, by many, are now considered nothing more than cliches, continue to be the chief cornerstones upon which the social media enterprise is built.

      I truly appreciate the role that Forrester has played in shedding light on this issue. Now, let’s go the next mile by convening a summit or forming a workgroup. Frankly, I prefer the former and believe that the latter would follow in due course.

      Jeremiah, what say ye? The social mediasphere will listen to you. Thereofore, it’s my fervent hope you feel similarly.

    37. Paul

      Thanks, I always appreciate your opinions. Why the request for all these third party boards? Sounds very political, from a first reaction.

      We’re very clear in our stance: Sponsored conversations must be transparent and authentic. I know it starts to get gray in areas, but those two criteria should be the guiding principles.

    38. Thanks for responding Jeremiah. I truly appreciate it.

      If it sounds political, let’s forget the sponsoring entity, IBNMA or otherwise. I still feel some face-to-face convergence needs to take place, and someone, either an individual or organization, has to call the players together.

      Forrester has certainly thrown down the gauntlet with its declaration, but can or should your organization serve as the final arbiter? It’s a big step in the right direction as I said, but we’ve got to go the next mile.

    39. Instead of the blogger getting free samples of the product. The brand should offer to have an exclusive giveaway of X amount of products (depending on the cost to the brand) for the blogger and that way more people get to sample the product and it™s not paying for a positive review basically. The brand could get more feedback, the blogger benefits by getting more buzz and everyone wins and everyone knows the brand is working with the blog/site.

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    41. If you aren't transparent, you will fail. Anything that sounds overly commercial will be ignored. Stick with genuine interest in what you are writing about and your followers will take it for what its worth, not just see a blatant promotion.

    42. If you aren't transparent, you will fail. Anything that sounds overly commercial will be ignored. Stick with genuine interest in what you are writing about and your followers will take it for what its worth, not just see a blatant promotion.

    43. If you aren't transparent, you will fail. Anything that sounds overly commercial will be ignored. Stick with genuine interest in what you are writing about and your followers will take it for what its worth, not just see a blatant promotion.

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