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Responsible Marketing

Can’t buy me love: Paid conversation seeding

By July 14, 2008August 6th, 20208 Comments

Authenticity is the marketing buzzword du jour, and for good reason: There’s a huge trust gap between marketers and consumers and the more “real” you can be, the better.

So, is the following Responsible Marketing?

Top Quality & Affordable Forum Population
Paid forum posting is about providing your forum, blog or community a jumpstart, by seeding your site with active conversation & enthusiastic members. From visitors to Google, your site will start getting the notice it deserves!

The notice it deserves? Everyone has to start somewhere, but paying strangers to pretend they are interested in your content is downright sad.

Here’s their pricing:

You can’t buy love

If your blog or forum is a ghost town, does your content need a little help? If it’s worthy, don’t sink to buying a temporary audience.

Instead, share it with the people you know and seek out individuals and groups that might be interested in what you have to say.

If you have quality content, an audience will follow. Like any relationship, first you have to establish trust. And that’s pretty tough to pull off if your conversations are phony.

What do you think about paid conversation seeding?

Unethical or just “faking it until you make it?”

Comment below to weigh in.

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • IVSyd says:

    It’s doomed unless it is outstandingly performed. Somehow people tend to recognize even fake reviews. I believe they would be able to recognize the paid conversation as well. However, those attempt that success would be highly effective.

  • Ryan Dancey says:

    Have done it, will do it again. Sometimes you have to put a stone in the pot before it can become soup. I think there’s nothing wrong with a community jumpstart. In fact (as I cope with a toxic community every day at work) I think seeding a community with the right atmosphere from day one can do a lot to make sure it turns out to be a positive thing rather than a constant anchor dragging people under from the vitriol.

    Is this really any different than paying an endorser or pitchman?


  • Bill Boyd says:

    This is what happens when you allow Google to take over the world. Search engines prize links to your web site and new content. Just as people act in their economic self-interest, they’ll act in their online self-interest. Yes, it’s extremely sad. But unless we get the search firms to change the rules, it’s also inevitable.

  • Ryan:

    I enjoy your comments on this blog — you find ways to constructively challenge some of the thinking here. Exactly what I’m hoping for.

    You make a good point. I see what you mean about making sure the feedback is positive.

    But couldn’t you share it privately with friends and friends of friends? Or, reach out to personal social network relationships? I soft-launched this blog and posted at least a dozen articles, sharing them with a small group of “friendlies,” or a least people I knew that, like you, would provide constructive and thoughtful counterpoints.

    It’s significantly different from an endorser or a pitchman. There’s nothing questionable about having someone say your product is good.

    It is questionable to pay to seed a conversation and passing it off as real, authentic consumers (or users)—when they aren’t.

    Thanks again for contributing to the conversation.


  • Ryan Dancey says:

    So what if I do this: Prior to launch of a product, I hire 10 people who have winning on-line personalities. I give them the product and ask them to use it. Then I have those people talk about their experiences with the product and ask questions and get help in my forum, interacting with my community managers. When the forum goes live, it is pre-populated with these threads and with this tone.

    Do my customers “have a right” to know that these people were hand picked to jumpstart the community? Would any credibility be lost if that were discovered by the community later? What is more important – that there was useful content in my community support system when “the public” found it, or that the forum be a pristine reflection of organic consumer activities?

    You ran some viral videos a few blogs ago that were created by ad agencies and put out into the wild. The guys jumping into pants was especially memorable and it went viral inside CCP – we passed it around the office all day. It didn’t matter to me that the thing was staged or that it was an ad product, I just thought it looked cool. I wouldn’t have thought any less of the video (or you) if that was one of your clients and you had posted it on your blog without identifying them. To me, the value is “does the community get value from the tactic”, not “was the tactic an emergent success driven by the community”.


    PS: I love Magnum Mondays.

  • romana says:

    i saw similar ads for being paid also to blog. i agree with IVSyd that sooner or later readers will discover who is phony and who is not, and if/when they discover this, your company will lose the trust of the customer.
    i’m sure each of us has a big enough circle of friends or business partners who will be interested or challenged enough to contribute to your site.
    but also, on the other end i can understand providers trying to help companies who are new to the business or www 2.0…
    but – authencity is something you cannot buy. it’s interesting to read all the comments. thanks!

  • Ryan,

    It does make a difference to consumers/clients. They expect authenticity, openess and honesty. If you are willing to pay to be popular what else are you willing to do to get my business? BTW Now that you have outed yourself, you might expect another blogger to make you a subject of their post. That’s the kind of thing that social conversationalists sometimes write about. That could make you even more popular in the short term, but reputation does matter in the long term.

  • hmmmm.... says:

    Interesting notion….when the site is new, it might benefit by getting the ball rolling… some people post on forums, while others respond to posts on forums, gotta give people something to start the conversation….kind of like inviting certain people to a party because you know they will mingle and get things going….sometimes it’s really obvious when someone has been paid for a post though, I guess it depends on how they handle it…

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