IZEA’s no worse than traditional advertising

Ted Murphy Halloween

Image by tedmurphy via Flickr

I wasn’t going to weigh in on the IZEA issue, but I couldn’t help myself.

Most of you probably don’t need a back story but for those that do I’ll try and be short.

IZEA is most famous as the company that started PayPerPost. Basically you could pay their bloggers to write about your company. It was not transparent, know one knew that it was a paid post, basically caused a lot of problems.

Since then they’ve learned a lot and changed a lot of their approach. They now operate in complete transparency.

But people still have issues with it. It just doesn’t “feel right” to some people. To others it’s completely legit. They’re both right of course.

Most bloggers are not journalist, but people have come to trust them like they are.

Steve Spalding responded to the criticism he received for his recent participation with IZEA.

Chris Brogan also responded to the backlash he received.

Back in August I wrote a post in response to all the blogger burn out I saw. What I said there directly applies here.

Welcome to the watered-down reality of all that you loved. You can never go back through the door you came in

This may come across as harsh but I’ve dealt with this cycle my whole life.  While I am ranting a bit my comments aren’t meant to bash anyone more to offer a friendly kick in the butt.

Anytime a trend that develops on the fringe gets adopted by the mainstream the “cool kids” whine because now every poser has jumped their train.

Congratulations bloggers, you finally got what you’ve been asking for. You can now join the ranks of all the cutting edge musicians, fashionistas and artists.

You really have two options at this point: A)Give up B)Dig in

You can accept the fact that corporate America is hip to the business advantages you’ve been preaching all these years OR you can throw a fit, take your ball blog and go home. With Corporate America comes the late adopters we pride ourselves in not being.

If you stay you can help make sure that the watered down version of what you’ve helped build keeps the core elements that make blogging great.

If you leave you become a what ever happened to?

Over the last year I have come to know IZEA through their infectious CEO, Ted Murphy, he really is a good guy. I’ve also come to know Dan Rua who’s firm invested in IZEA, once again, a really good guy.

IZEA has done a remarkable job of turning around their business despite a really really rough start.

So I like the people, what about the business? It depends. If Ted didn’t do this, someone else would have. Does that make it right? I don’t think it’s right for everyone. I think the approach has to fit the audience and honestly that’s where I think most people really have a problem with it.

It’s just like advertising.

We all know that no matter what the traditional media says, advertising effects their content.

Chris posted the IZEA post on his Dad-O-Matic blog not his social media blog. The Kmart post is probably very appropriate in that case. Some of the bloggers IZEA works with though don’t separate their content and the result can be less than relevant content.

But this is business. And all the rules of business apply here. If you don’t like it don’t follow the person doing it. Vote with your RSS subscription and page views. If you don’t like it blog about it. If you do then do the same.

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About Tac Anderson

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.
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  • http://www.izea.com Ted Murphy

    I knew that image would come back to haunt me. : )

    Great post Tac, very balanced. Thanks for telling it like it is.

  • http://www.izea.com Ted Murphy

    I knew that image would come back to haunt me. : )

    Great post Tac, very balanced. Thanks for telling it like it is.

  • http://www.floridaventureblog.com/ Dan…

    Hey Tac, good commentary and thanks for the “good guy” nod.

    I have so many posts stacked up on this topic as I work on FAS157 valuations. They’ll prolly get published once it no longer matters — that’s fine, you and others are doing a great job of covering all sides.

    You and I disagree on “Most bloggers are not journalist, but people have come to trust them like they are.” I think a well-worded poll, delivered to a diverse group could put that concept to bed pretty quickly.

    That said, there remains an opportunity to help audiences appreciate the goals/conflicts/context of any site they visit, whether publishers claim to be entertainer, journalist, free-pass conference promoter, enthusiast, loaner tech reviewer, photographer, affiliate marketer, personal diarist etc. It feels like a Disclosure Policy framework (like Privacy Policies; see IZEA’s http://www.DisclosurePolicy.org/ ), could go a long way in that effort. When you have so many varied expectations between publishers and readers, such a system needs a framework to help everyone match expectations.

    Any help you can provide improving that framework or spreading the word appreciated…things like only marketing with blogs that carry a Disclosure Policy, can go a long way to a long-term solution.

  • http://www.floridaventureblog.com/ Dan…

    Hey Tac, good commentary and thanks for the “good guy” nod.

    I have so many posts stacked up on this topic as I work on FAS157 valuations. They’ll prolly get published once it no longer matters — that’s fine, you and others are doing a great job of covering all sides.

    You and I disagree on “Most bloggers are not journalist, but people have come to trust them like they are.” I think a well-worded poll, delivered to a diverse group could put that concept to bed pretty quickly.

    That said, there remains an opportunity to help audiences appreciate the goals/conflicts/context of any site they visit, whether publishers claim to be entertainer, journalist, free-pass conference promoter, enthusiast, loaner tech reviewer, photographer, affiliate marketer, personal diarist etc. It feels like a Disclosure Policy framework (like Privacy Policies; see IZEA’s http://www.DisclosurePolicy.org/ ), could go a long way in that effort. When you have so many varied expectations between publishers and readers, such a system needs a framework to help everyone match expectations.

    Any help you can provide improving that framework or spreading the word appreciated…things like only marketing with blogs that carry a Disclosure Policy, can go a long way to a long-term solution.

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com Tac

    Dan I should clarify.
    Most bloggers are not journalist – don’t think there’s any disagreement there.
    But people – the people complaining the most, who live in the echo chamber of the blogosphere – have come to trust them like they are.
    In fact, in some circles they trust them more.

    But I think it’s a good thing for any professional, who blogs, should have a disclosure statement. Mine’s in the right sidebar. I fully disclose all my professional and financial ties because I recognize that they will effect my blog posts, either what I say or what I don’t say.

    Good luck w/ FAS glad us EIR’s don’t have to do that :)

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com Tac

    Dan I should clarify.
    Most bloggers are not journalist – don’t think there’s any disagreement there.
    But people – the people complaining the most, who live in the echo chamber of the blogosphere – have come to trust them like they are.
    In fact, in some circles they trust them more.

    But I think it’s a good thing for any professional, who blogs, should have a disclosure statement. Mine’s in the right sidebar. I fully disclose all my professional and financial ties because I recognize that they will effect my blog posts, either what I say or what I don’t say.

    Good luck w/ FAS glad us EIR’s don’t have to do that :)

  • http://www.prworks.ca David Jones

    Well stated. There is no right or wrong in a situation like this. The problem with most of the commentary is that it is taking sides, when that’s not really the important discussion.

    I’m not comfortable with pay per post or bloggers who participate in it. Brogan used the phrase “renting his audience” which is exactly true. And if I don’t want my attention to be commercialized, then I vote with my feet.

    But the larger discussion is where this all falls in terms of its affect on the trust that people put in bloggers and the social media space. That’s the debate we need to be having.

    Good blogger relations and blogger outreach is far more credible than buying your way onto a blog. Of course I’d say that, I’m in PR, but it’s the way I feel. Organic, earned exposure is way more valuable than paid.

    I read newspapers for the news, not the ads. I read blogs for the content, not sponsored posts. It’s like this e-book http://changethis.com/44.04.TrustEconomy says:

    Understand that the digital natives know who’s there to market and sell, and who’s there to
    build relationships. We (the digital natives) know you’re new. We often can tell really quickly that
    you’re hoping to introduce your product or service to the conversation. Some of us will even
    be more responsive to this than others. But, then there will be many who will cry foul the moment
    you cross the line into pure sales or marketing. Remember, the Trust Economy is a conversation/
    relationship environment. We know you’ve got a job to do, but there are lots of people who
    prefer you do it elsewhere if you’re going to use traditional “bomb” marketing and sales efforts,
    versus “hand to hand” relationship building.

  • http://www.prworks.ca David Jones

    Well stated. There is no right or wrong in a situation like this. The problem with most of the commentary is that it is taking sides, when that’s not really the important discussion.

    I’m not comfortable with pay per post or bloggers who participate in it. Brogan used the phrase “renting his audience” which is exactly true. And if I don’t want my attention to be commercialized, then I vote with my feet.

    But the larger discussion is where this all falls in terms of its affect on the trust that people put in bloggers and the social media space. That’s the debate we need to be having.

    Good blogger relations and blogger outreach is far more credible than buying your way onto a blog. Of course I’d say that, I’m in PR, but it’s the way I feel. Organic, earned exposure is way more valuable than paid.

    I read newspapers for the news, not the ads. I read blogs for the content, not sponsored posts. It’s like this e-book http://changethis.com/44.04.TrustEconomy says:

    Understand that the digital natives know who’s there to market and sell, and who’s there to
    build relationships. We (the digital natives) know you’re new. We often can tell really quickly that
    you’re hoping to introduce your product or service to the conversation. Some of us will even
    be more responsive to this than others. But, then there will be many who will cry foul the moment
    you cross the line into pure sales or marketing. Remember, the Trust Economy is a conversation/
    relationship environment. We know you’ve got a job to do, but there are lots of people who
    prefer you do it elsewhere if you’re going to use traditional “bomb” marketing and sales efforts,
    versus “hand to hand” relationship building.

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