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The Blogosphere is Alive with the Sound of Marketers

While Twitter and Facebook are all the rage with your average internet user, blogs are still going strong in the corporate world.

According to a study by eMarketer, 34% of all US companies have a public blog and they project 45% by 2012. That’s up tremendously from 2007 which lands at only 16%.

“Studies have shown that marketers perceive blogs to have the highest value of any social media in driving site traffic, brand awareness, lead generation and sales—as well as improving customer service.”

The study suggests that there is a larger number of blogs devoted to smaller companies, where larger companies may be lagging due to legal and logistical issues. It’s a lot easier for George to upload an off-the-cuff blog post when he’s the CEO of a two man company than it is for a VP at Procter and Gamble to make his thoughts known.

Only 19% Trust Your Sponsored Blog Posts!

We all know it goes on. Sometimes it’s disclosed, other times not. Sometimes it’s black and white, other times it’s more of a gray area.

What am I talking about? Paid blog posts.

According to Fleishman-Hillard’s 2010 Digital Influence Index (pdf), consumers are wising up to paid/sponsored blogs posts–and they don’t like them!

If you’re given a free sample, only 24% of your readers will trust you to be unbiased. Paid to write a review, that trust drops to 19%.

Still, in both cases, there’s this big area of indecision (61% and 54% respectively).

Of course, it’s one thing to say that you wouldn’t trust a sponsored blog post, but what about in reality? Factors that need to be considered in the real world include:

Oracle’s Larry Ellison Weighs In On CEO Blogging

This week one of the richest and most influential men in business and the world, Larry Ellison, founder and CEO of Oracle Systems, gave his opinion on corporate blogging. Well, at least he gave his opinion on one attempt at corporate blogging and it strikes right at the core of some things that the social media and Internet marketing communities claim as near and dear to their heart.

Ellison attacked what many have held up as one of the prime examples of a company creating content through executive blogs and more. In fact, he didn’t just attack it; he crushed it.

This Conversation Brought to You By Six Apart

(Not really, of course.)

Six Apart, owners of the blog-hosting service TypePad, have found a new way to monetize blogs: advertising. Okay, so that’s not new, and neither is the basic concept of sponsored conversations, but the execution this time is a little different.

We’ve seen sponsored blog posts for reviews and pay-per-post models—and we’ve seen them done badly, too. Paid reviews often ended up sounding like (surprise) ads, with or without disclosure. Six Apart’s new TypePad Conversations seeks to avoid that problem—by not having bloggers actually talk about the products.

No Blogger Fines Yet, But FTC Has Its Eyes Out

The FTC created quite a stir last year when they announced their new blogging guidelines to crack down on bloggers who receive products free in exchange for mentions or reviews. The FTC reassured bloggers that the rumored $11,000 fines wouldn’t affect them, and that these guidelines were intended to target advertisers and big time bloggers who were practically making a living on the freebies alone.

Ooooor not. In what appears to be the first test case of the new guidelines, the FTC targeted Ann Taylor Loft—over $10 gift cards distributed to bloggers after a preview in January. Well, more accurately, gift cards worth up to $500, distributed after Ann Taylor reviewed the bloggers’ posts. (I believe the conclusion we can jump to here is that the cards or their amounts were directly related to how positive the review was.) As Econsultancy points out, this is “in direct violation of the FTC’s new disclosure rules.”

Gawker: Comment Caste System = More Comments

Last summer, Gawker announced a new comment system for all their sites. The change meant that comments wouldn’t be displayed solely based on ratings or timing—instead, they would be ranked according to the popularity/usefulness/awesomeness of the commenter. Particularly popular/useful/awesome commenters would even get the power to promote comments by lesser beings to the higher tier. Unapproved commenters could get their comments displayed on a case-by-case basis.

Sounds like a recipe for rebellion, doesn’t it? You’d think people would be less interested in contributing to a site that apparently no longer wanted their comments—especially since they also abandoned the existing system of giving commenters with more followers more clout. But not the case for Gawker: since they implemented tiered commenting, after an initial decline, comment participation has skyrocketed.

Why I Agree With Google’s CEO About the Value of Newspaper Editors

“Google’s Schmidt to Bloggers: Drop Dead!”

Well shoot!

What am I supposed to say about Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s comments, now that RWW had already taken the “bloggers can drop dead” angle? How am I supposed to keep Pilgrims entertained, if the sensational has already be discussed?

How about I surprise you by agreeing with Schmidt, but first you need to read what he actually said:

There is an art to what you do. And if you’re ever confused as to the value of newspaper editors, look at the blog world. That’s all you need to see. So we understand how fundamental tradition and the things you care about are.

I totally agree. I guess ole Eric and I are on the same page: newspaper editors simply have little value these days.