Microworkers – a case of ethics?

July 29, 2010


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?



Food blogs – leaving a bad taste in your mouth?

July 1, 2010


I recently read an interesting article on Mashable/Social Media titled Why food bloggers are here to stay by Jenny An, a food, popular culture and travel writer. The article discusses how food blogs and bloggers have become the new staple of online food writing.

 This, I would have to agree with. I am an avid reader of a number of food blogs and I believe that they have numerous benefits over traditional food media.

 Not only do you learn about exciting new places to eat and drink at but you get to see all the amazing food and drinks before you commit to trying them. As Jenny An notes, “Words alone are no longer good enough to be involved in the conversation.”

 There are so many reasons why food blogs are immensely helpful I could go on for hours but just to name a few:

  • If a restaurant doesn’t have a website it is likely you will find a review of it on a blog discussing menu options, prices and atmosphere.
  • If you are stuck for ideas of where to go for a meal/drink just go onto the site of a local blogger and scroll through all the options.
  • You can avoid those horrid restaurant experiences by reading reviews before you choose where to eat – though, you will need to find a blogger who has similar tastes to you first, preparing yourself for a few not so hot meals in the first instance to work this out.

 Jenny An’s article also brings up the interesting and controversial topic of ethics. It discusses how publicists have long offered complementary meals to traditional media despite it being generally considered taboo to accept. Yet, is it ok for food bloggers to accept these meals?

 I believe that as long as they disclose the fact that they dined on behalf of the restaurant and promise to write truthfully about their meal then there shouldn’t be a problem.

 My personal favourite food blogger, Not Quite Nigella, notes on her blog that she will “only write about items that she personally likes or finds interesting. With product and restaurant reviews, she writes them honestly taking the good as well as the bad which means she will talk about the positive as well as the negative as that’s what her readers value.”

 It is obvious after reading a couple of her posts that Not Quite Nigella is truthful about her experience whether she attends on behalf of the restaurant or not.

 However, how do we know that all bloggers have kept their promise of being truthful with their reviews? I am keen to hear your thoughts.


Are digital swarms the next big thing in social media?

May 28, 2010

I was made aware of  this video when doing research on digital swarms and after watching it I started to wonder whether this is the next big thing for social media.

For those who are new to the digital swarms concept, it is based around the power of the consumer. The more consumers that sign up to purchase a service/product, the cheaper the deal becomes. To ensure they get the deal or to lower the price even further, consumers then share the deal with their friends through social networks.

 A great example of a digital swarm is Ouffer, a site which features a great deal each day (e.g. pay $20 and get a $40 voucher at a particular restaurant). You only get the deal if enough people agree to purchase it within the allocated time limit. OfferMe, another example, allows consumers to request the items they want to buy and list how much they are willing to pay.

As soon as I saw these sites I was hooked and just recently I committed to buying a deal which fortunately for me (although unfortunate for my wallet) was committed to by enough people for the offer to go live.

I love the idea of digital swarms and judging by the popularity of many of these sites so do a number of consumers. I am always after products/services that provide value for money but that are also of a good quality which these ‘offers’ provide. I believe that these sites will be highly successful as they provide a great platform to connect like-minded consumers to get deals relevant to them.

It also provides a great opportunity for businesses to get consumers through the door whom may not have considered them before. Additionally, if the business then offers an unforgettable experience (in a good way of course!) it is likely that they will receive not only repeat business but referrals to family and friends.

I am now looking forward to redeeming my deal which involves a couple of hours of pure relaxation whilst also looking out for more great deals to make a further dent in my wallet!

Image courtesy of http://www.wordle.net/