Thursday, January 10, 2019

Co-opting Word-of-Mouth

Image result for word of mouth

Today, I received this missive:

Hi Robert, 
We noticed that you run a nice blog at .  [Spam Company] would like to sponsor a post on your blog.  We are willing to pay a onetime fee to insert a Marketing message in one of your existing posts.  An example message is: “Two useful technologies for working from anywhere – [SPAM] and [SPAM].”, with two dofollow links going to our websites. 
We are a leading [SPAM] provider for the last 14 years with excellent products that your audience could use.
I look forward to your reply.

Kind Regards,

As you can imagine, I have redacted any information to their company, so I am not inadvertently advertising their services.

I also received follow-ups to previous pleas, one when I asked for more information:

Hi Robert,
Thanks for getting back to me. 
To give you an idea on what we do, we would be looking to write sponsored content for your site. This content would usually come in the form of a 500-word article and would include a ‘do-follow’ link to our client. The writer of the article would spend time on your site and get a feel for tone, style, and the type of content you usually post. They can go and write a tailored article for your blog. You can review, edit and reject the article if you find it not suitable. We want to contribute to your site and pay you for the privilege of posting it. However, we don't divulge the name of our clients or brands at this stage - normally only when the articles are sent over for review.
As long as you are comfortable, we would also request that the post not be marked as ‘sponsored’.
In this regard, would you accept sponsored posts? As a verification and confirmation, could you send me the specific name of your site/s if this is something you would be interested in?


And this one:

Hi there,
I wanted to followup and see if you had a chance to look over my email. Please let me know!
Original Message
Hi there, 
I wanted to let you know about a resource we have that can be great additional information for your readers on this page:
The resource I'm referring to is an article we recently updated called  [SPAM ARTICLE]. Within it we explain the different reasons for [SPAM]. 
You can view the full article here:  [SPAM ARTICLE] 
I think your readers who are learning about reverse mortgages would find this article beneficial.
If this content doesn't seem like a good fit for your page, but you would be interested in a high quality guest post on your blog about a different topic, we would be happy to write something for you. 
I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing back soon. 

What Adrian, Katie, and Andrew all have in common is that they are trying to co-opt word of mouth.  If they try to sell their services or goods or whatever directly, it comes across as commercial and smarmy.   People don't trust advertisement anymore, not since the government has taken a "hands off" approach to false advertising and slashed the budgets of enforcement agencies like the FTC.

So what does that leave?  Word of mouth.  People will buy things from people they trust - and they are hoping that a reader of my blog would trust me and be inclined to click on the links.   Of course, trust is a commodity in short supply - with a short shelf-life.  Violate people's trust, and they flee in droves.  Facebook may discover this, eventually (then again, maybe not, Facebook users are particularly gullible).

I rag a lot on Mr. Money Beard and Mr. Financial Kung-Fu, as they are trying to actually make a living by blogging.   As such, they have to monetize their blogs, which in turn, affects the trust thing.  So long as the links to advertisers are benign (and few are) you might be able to maintain that level of trust.  (I wonder sometimes if the "comments" section on those sites is shilled also, just as it is on Reddit).

But the people asking me to advertise are often people pushing the exact sort of financial mistakes and rip-offs that I rail against.  Kind of stupid, no?   Or am I being stupid for not taking $20 for an advert that will end up costing a reader thousands of dollars (or tens of thousands) if his house is foreclosed upon in a reverse mortgage gone horribly wrong.

It is a jungle out there.   You have to be skeptical of everyone, including me.