For a while now, I’ve been trying to explain to my roommate what Twitter is, and why these social media tools aren’t really as useless as she thinks – they’re actually pretty fun! She continues to be critical and simply unimpressed, reacting each time with a casual “oh, I guess that’s cool. I just don’t get it.” Then, last week, her reaction left me stumped.
It seems to be a topic of conversation every time I walk into my PR Campaigns class now. “Did you see what Shaq posted today on Twitter? He’s so hilarious, you need to follow him!” I found a blog by Niki D’Andrea of the Phoenix New Times describing a Twittering Shaq story that I found particularly cool. I was sure it was just what I needed to draw my roommate into the Twittering world. Instead, when she finished reading the story, all she had to say was “Twitter must be paying Shaq for all of this publicity.” I was speechless and, honestly, a little annoyed. After all, how can someone be so critical and skeptical?! But, could she be right?
I came across a blog today by Steve Rubel all about the ethics of sponsored blog conversations – A.K.A. – bloggers who are paid to discuss certain topics. Rubel discusses the controversial issue in conjunction with a Forrester Research study that said this sponsored sort of blogging is becoming more popular. While Rubel discusses some ways to manage sponsored blogging, he also argues that this type of communication needs to be handled carefully, with a lot of disclosure and credibility.
I’ve always viewed blogging as independent thoughts. People share what they’re thinking, without being guided by their employer or anyone else. Is it just me, or does the idea of sponsored blogging/social media make things a lot more confusing and less reputable? For some reason, a comparison to infomercials keeps coming to mind – people being paid to say they like a certain product. I guess those aren’t all that bad, but then again, I don’t usually take what I see on infomercials very seriously.
I’m beginning to think that my roommate’s skeptisism might not be such a bad thing, after all. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still keep using and loving all of this new social media popping up everyday, but I’ll definitely start to keep a skeptical eye out for purchased thoughts.