This was a post waiting to happen and the flights to Munich and Hamburg this week were all I needed to write it down. When I started blogging almost 3 years ago it was mainly to find out for myself what the whole blogosphere thing was all about. Initially the idea wasn’t to keep on doing this for long but it caught on to me and I stuck to it since then. There are ever more signs thought that blogging is not quite the same anymore as 3 or more years ago.
Most people start blogging because it’s providing them with an interesting way to share their thoughts and interact with others based on that, whether it related to your work, hobby or personal interests. Just check the ‘about page’ on a random blog and in most cases this will say something like “This blog is about my personal opinion, my thoughts and my thoughts only, etc.” A blog is where you can be yourself. We say what we think, the way we think it without compromising. At least we did, but is that still the case?
Lately I get the feeling this idea of ‘honest personal opinion’ is fading out as more and more blogs seem to pick up on the cheesiest pitches from marketers, agencies and PR folks. Being a blogger myself I get a lot of the same requests, offers, freebees, … from agencies like many of my blogging colleagues do so it’s easier to see when someone picks up on an offer. And I got to tell you, when an agency sends you something like this (recent example via Facebook):
“Hey Kris, I had to contact as much bloggers as possible from my boss to show our latest project for brand X. Check it out and link to it if you like it. That way I have to pay less on banner advertising.”
… and when in the 2-3 days after that you see some of your valued blogging colleagues write about this, I can’t help thinking bloggers actually became a very easy audience. This particular case is a Belgian example but since blogger lists like the Power150 exist there are also much more global examples as well.
Not only the personal blogs seem to change though. Don Dodge noticed recently that blogging has gone commercial and that there aren’t much individuals left in the top bloglists. And the ones that are still there are also selling out, think of Scoble’s latest tweet ‘featuring’ Seagate!
The bigger commercial blog networks then? They became media… Techcrunch is going gossip, Valleywag is going naked and Pete Cashmore of Mashable is your next tech rock star. It sometimes feels like half of Mashable’s posts are about Pete, the meet ups and all the sponsors related to all this. And remember how I wrote earlier about how Marketing Pilgrim preaches Marketing 2.0 and at the same time is stuffed with display ads all over the site.
I guess I could go on and on for a long time on this. Every week I read something that shows how the blogosphere is changing: you can hire a blogger at Marketingfacts to live blog your event, Lifehacker Gina Trapani created a PR blacklist, … not sure if it’s all for the best.
Discuss. Just remember one thing, this is my blog with my opinion… and definitely not for sale.
What a nice insight on the blogosphere nowadays :)
But Kris, may I ask you why you have such a look at the “blog industry” while working for a company that uses part of its marketing budget to buy space on Belgian blogs (by the way thanks for buying me)?
Is that a sort of schizophrenia?
Hey Denis – I am all for integrating social media in the marketing plan in many different ways, we are as a company indeed buying ad space on Belgian blogs and you know we do much more even than just that.
The point I wanted to make was a different one. We’re talking about authenticity, ethics, passion, … in the ways companies and bloggers deal with each other and how I am under the impression this has changed.
So no schizophrenia if you ask me.
Thanks for clarifying Kris.
I totally agree on the analysis, but not on the response to the “mercantile” phenomena.
The “I’m not for sale” position is a bit too extreme for me, since I’m not against social media advertising as long as it’s under control.
I’m not against social media advertising either. The “Not for sale” position is referring to the fact that I’m not just doing/writing whatever in return for freebees, cash or whatever.