Saturday, June 11, 2005

Ranting about Fake Blogs

Once in a while, I get caught up in ranting. I'm in one of those rants on a blog at
Buzz Marketing with Blogs, a blog that promotes a book by Susannah Gardner.

Susannah got a sliver of wood under my fingernails when she mentioned a talk she was going to be giving on "fake blogs."

She wrote: “Blogging continues to move out of the realm of personal diarists and into the hands of business professionals and marketers. The transition isn’t always smooth, especially as creative marketers use blogs in new ways to promote products, businesses and business strategies. Long-time bloggers often refer to these efforts as “fake” blogs, and the resulting hue and cry generates publicity – of the negative kind."

My rant stems from marketers in a sense condoning the terminology of “fake blogs” when referring to corporate sponsored blogs, to drive marketing objectives. Fake carries with it an interpretation of dishonest, deceptive and I firmly believe marketing should never be dishonest. It pains me when I see people looking at marketers (like me) as fake and deceptive people.

There is nothing fake about a marketing blog as long as it is relevant to the target audience most likely to read the blog. The technique might be one of creating what I would call a “character blog” designed to be a creative communication that entertains. That is a clever use of a medium – in this case of a blog to deliver a brand message in an entertaining manner.

Surely we can find a better term than “fake blogs” to describe those that are not traditional diaries. It seems so exclusionary, even snobby to imply that marketing blogs are fake. That would mean our direct mail is fake mail. Our TV commercials are fake TV. Our news releases are fake news. Some of these blog initiatives might be poorly done, but the rest should not be cast out with the bad.

A PR practitioner commented on my comment, basically confirming that she did see marketing communications as fake. “I think a large portion of the population would agree with these three statements (as being examples of fake communications) ... I know I do. That doesn’t mean I’m against them, just that I recognize a difference between the medium itself, and the advertising that exploits it.”
That’s where the danger line gets crossed. I fully realize there are many people that look at marketing as fake and exploitive.

The word ‘exploit’ is not in my vocabulary when it comes to how I view marketing. I see marketing as being helpful to prospective and current customers, as long as it remains relevant to their needs. It might be interruptive, but good marketing should never, ever be exploitive. If I felt that way, I’d find another way to make a living.

Which gets me back to my pickiness over words like “fake”—there’s nothing fake about good marketing whether it is on TV or on a blog. The blog we are creating at Cincom, the company where I do marketing, is designed to provide content to help managers simplify complex business processes so they can be more competitive ... it does not promote our products ... it is relationship marketing ... and it is certainly not fake.

We'll be putting our acclaimed eNewsletter Expert Access out in blog format soon. And it certainly is not fake.

We also have blogs about our products and our development of these products (Cincom Smalltalk, for instance)... which customers find very useful. They generate far more traffic than our website because customers want this information. I don’t think they see these as fake blogs.

Okay, now I have ranted. I can now move on to enjoying my Saturday. After I cut the grass, my mother is coming over this evening for lemon chicken and some good wine. Maybe I can talk my wife, my daughter and mother into watching "Lord of the Rings. Return of the King." NOT!

1 Comments:

At 6:30 PM, Blogger Christopher said...

Am I understanding this correctly? Someone might consider business-related or non-diarial blogs fake? That is utterly ridiculous. My own blog is not a diary of my personal life, but more of a touch-point for friends and family where I can share news and information about the things that interest us (design, art, and pop-culture). The term "Blog" is a contraction of the phrase Web-Log. Not Web-Diary. The second half of the term term, "log", is a derivative of the greek word "logos", which refers to the marks and symbols that make up a written language (which is why a graphic symbol used to represent a company or product is called a "logo"). A "log" is a written record of, well ...anything. It doesn't have to be a diary and it doesn't even need to be of a personal nature to be considered a log. It's my understanding that a log is a written document updated with entries that are placed in sequential order. Topics and content are irrelevant. Having said all of that, I just came across an interesting article that discusses the latest use of Blogs as a marketing tool. Motion picture studios are using Blogs to connect with their fan-base and create hype for soon-to-be-released motion pictures. Check out the post at: http://business2.blogs.com/business2blog/2005/06/movie_marketing.html

 

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