Microworkers – a case of ethics?


Cherry Picked recently blogged about a new site, ‘Microworkers’ – “Think of it as Santa’s Little Helpers for odd jobs. Except you’re not Santa, and they’re not doing it for love. Don’t have time to edit a cover letter for that must-have job? Simply become an “employer” and hire someone (a microworker) to do it for you. Can’t seem to attract traffic to your work-of-art blog? Start a campaign and watch your numbers rise. You can even ask workers to product place your latest business venture on discussion forums.”

 I have to admit I was intrigued, we are all looking for ways to earn that little bit of extra money right? So I clicked through to the website, but as I started to read more the first thing that came to mind was surely this isn’t ethical!?

 According to the homepage employers are asking people to blog about their products, post reviews to websites and blogs, become a Facebook fan, follow them on Twitter and the list goes on.

I can understand if businesses are trying to find people to review their products, as long as the reviewers are honest. However there is an ongoing debate about whether paying bloggers to review products is ethical (see my last post on the ethics of food blogging) and asking people to become fans of your brand on social media takes it that one step further!

Personally I believe that it is not the amount of fans or followers you have on Facebook and Twitter it is how many are engaging with your brand and providing valuable feedback and real referrals.

If you are paying someone to become your fan or follower then how likely is it that they are going to be interested in your brand and really engage with it? Is it likely to help you promote your products and/or services? In my view, probably not, it is likely to just make you feel better about yourself, being able to reach those milestones of 100, 200, 1000 etc fans.

So when you are looking to set up your social media strategy or reviewing it, think about what you really want, hundreds or maybe thousands of people who ‘like’ your brand or maybe just a couple of hundred people who really love you brand and are engaging with it?



2 Responses to Microworkers – a case of ethics?

  1. I completely agree with you Petra, but I’d say that paid-for comments can work… but only in particular cases.

    For example, Shoes of Prey organised a paid review with a very popular young fashion blogger on YouTube from the USA (check this blog http://www.22michaels.com/2010/03/juicystar07-and-world-of-new-media.html), which resulted in an instant spike of site visits. In this case like in other paid-for reviews, I believe that it can only work if: 1)the blogger is transparent about the fact they were paid, and; 2)the blogger already has a natural interest/affiliation/passion for the product.

    As for this ‘microworkers’ concept, I don’t see what would be wrong in hiring someone for a short contract to help with, for example, increasing traffic to your site. It does become an ethical concern though when the ‘microworker’ is pretending to be someone else or promoting an organisation they were paid for without being transparent about it.

  2. Different but similiar: In China a lot of people work as professional gamers. They get paid for reaching the next level in World of Warcraft & Co. for you – if you don’t have time to play or if you are not able to get forward in the game. With gaming and Web 2.0 new job profiles emerge – if this makes sense or not.

    Concerning followers and friends: In fact, 5 good contacts are far better than 50 no names. But to be honest: large fan groups are always impressing.

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