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What's worse than a flog? Why not to piss off the wikimmunity

150px-Wikipedia-logo-en-big.pngIf you're not familiar with the term 'flog' it means to fake a blog. There has been a lot of chatter in the blogosphere as more and more companies are trying to get a piece of the social marketing pie. The problem is that some of those companies are so unremarkable, with no real devoted following, that PR and advertising agencies are creating fictitious people to blog in the company's behalf. (See my posts '20 common mistakes of eager bloggers' point #9 and this post of mine on the DigiKnow blog for more information.)

I push all clients who we engage with to provide full transparency when dealing in social marketing. This includes who you are specifically and making sure the contribution you're making is in the spirit of the online community. The risks of not doing such far outweigh any benefits. Each community has its own neighborhood watch program. Citizen police forces band together to investigate, gather evidence and convict anyone found in violation.

The latest corporate miscalculation is Microsoft. They've been reported to have offered a blogger money to change their entry on Wikipedia, the free,online, open-source encyclopedia. This is a cardinal sin of the Wikimmunity. The posting, editing, change and approval processes make up the law and only legitimate alterations are accepted. Corrections from corporations are frowned upon due to their biased nature.

Here is just some of the coverage: CNN, WSJ, Redmond Magazine (an online Microsoft mag), Guardian and many more.

This only emphasizes the need for full disclosure and transparency when promoting corporate interests through social marketing whether that is through blogging, commenting on blogs, posting images, editing wikis or interacting in SecondLife. Interactions in these communities combined with Google's caching servers make getting away with anything almost impossible and certainly traceable.

Certainly social marketing can be done and can be effective if targeting the right audience, but it should be a piece of a broader marketing strategy.

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