Monday, October 30, 2006

Viral Blogging?

When is a blog an ad, and when is an ad a legitimate blog?

Once of the first things I noticed when I signed up to Blogger were all the “blogs” associated with companies and products. Essentially, many of them are just commercials posing as blogs.

That doesn’t affect dedicated bloggers and blog readers because we have other ways of searching out interesting or useful blogs. The advertorial blogs don’t really get in our way.

But recently I came across the marketing ploy for the Dixie Chicks’ movie Shut Up and Sing. Let me say clearly I enjoy the Dixie Chicks’ music. We bought their latest album when it was released in NZ. I think they (and Natalie) didn’t deserve the hysterical over-reaction they got because of an extremely tame exercise of free speech.

However, I’m not sure I like being used to promote the film. The promoters use “interactive ads” inviting bloggers to post on the subject of free speech (which, interestingly, most of those I’ve read seem unable to spell). Bloggers are also invited to place the interactive ads on their own sites. This strikes me as a blogging version of “viral marketing”.

Now, I’m happy to support the Chicks, to buy their music, and I’ll probably go see their movie when/if it opens in New Zealand. But how can something that billed itself as the official fan blog for a movie that hadn’t even opened yet be seen as anything other than a PR and marketing exercise? And if that’s all it is, do any of the posts matter or contribute to the Greater Good (note capitals, please) of the blogosphere?

Yes, I do realise that by discussing this I’m helping to market the film (as the old saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad publicity). But having conversations about things is part of what blogging is all about and when we do we inevitably promote other blogs, news articles, podcasts, YouTube videos, whatever.

I’m not saying that the Dixie Chicks ploy is wrong. I wonder, though, if I’d feel more strongly about it if it was promoting something I’m opposed to. I guess I’m just a little unsure about the tactic in general. I’m curious to find out what other bloggers think about all this. If I find anything, I’ll post about that.

No comments: