“Sponsored conversations” are a dumb idea …

… even if the august analysts at Forrester have convinced themselves that as long as the bloggers disclose the payment and are permitted to say whatever they feel, that pay-per-post sounds better redubbed as a “sponsored conversation.”

I still think it is one of the dumber marketing manuevers in the social marketing bag of tricks.

Call me a purist but I like my critics to be objective and my reviewers to be uncomped. Product changes hands to be reviewed, not as gifts. Cash is spent on advertising, not on payola.

As long as bloggers don’t hide who’s paying them and have the freedom to write whatever they want, we think sponsored conversation will fit in well with the other forms of marketing through blogs,” writes Forrester analyst Sean Corcoran. The report – written in conjunction with Forrester analysts Jeremiah Owyang and Josh Bernoff – also includes advice for interactive marketers considering using sponsored conversations in their marketing arsenal, much of it centered on the critical issues of authenticity and transparency.

Whether you agree with Forrester or not, we’d love to have you (and your readers) engage in this dialogue with us. Please let me know if you would like a copy of the new Forrester report, “Add Sponsored Conversations To Your Toolbox.”

There are so many more intelligent ways to get a blogger or group of bloggers to talk about your brand without resorting to cash payments. And I don’t buy this re-tweet/give away for charity dodge either.

I will continue to unsub from “posties” and have long given up following analysts and experts who condone these tactics. The world is slipping into the Idiocracy quickly enough without the “experts” undoing all semblance of objectivity and honesty in the higest potential communications channel ever invented.

Links withheld in protest.

update: Owyang is determined to bait me into a pissing match on this one, now by citing Lenovo’s Voice of the Olympic Games program as an example of a “sponsored conversation.”  I am not going to get semantic with him on “sponsored” and “conversation” definitions. Lenovo did not pay any athlete to blog nor once suggested, demanded, hinted or discussed that the athlete mention the word Lenovo. We gave them free laptops and FlipCams with no strings attached. The point that just won’t sink in with him — no matter who huffs and puffs, is payola is wrong, cash-for-blogging sucks, and Forrester is on the wrong side of the whole pay-per-post debate. I revert to Mark Cahill’s pointer to the concept of journalistic ethics. I suggest every blogger with a shred of dignity read it. And yeah, yeah, I know. Bloggers aren’t journalists. I’m suggesting they may want to avail themselves of some journalistic best practices and take the high road. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journalistic_ethics

A certain unnamed candy ….

It’s a sure sign how desperate the social marketing world is for a new case study when a maker of sugar balls replaces its corporate web site with its Twitter account, launches a Facebook page, and posts some pictures on Flickr.

I can see the cool ad agency checking off every one of the requisite social media laundry list boxes and patting themselves on the back for being authentic when people like me tweet that their sugar pellets taste like shit.

I refuse to acknowledge this junk anymore. It’s not creative, it’s not anything more than a two-headed carnival act cooked up for the PR. The fact someone got paid to do this is further proof that we have nothing to worry about as the Ukraine melts down and the world looks forward to a summer of civil unrest.

Dour indeed. Ride the Naked Groundswell!