We bloggers have proved ourselves trusted opinion leaders. For example, head writer Elie Mystal on Abovethelaw.com and Erick Schonfeld on TechCrunch are likely more respected than the official players in their fields. So, it's no surprise that marketers have noticed this credible force and are harnessing it for everything from branding to actual selling.
In WWD, Cate T. Corcoran reports that major retail players such as Barneys New York and Coach are "collaborating with bloggers to create new and controversial forms of advertising for a more social age." Some of the ways this is being done, usually with full disclosure by bloggers are, notes Corcoran:
- Guest blog
- Sponsor a series of daily outfit posts featuring their products
- Create a video of the blogger talking about the brand or wearing the product
- Invite the bloggers to design for the brand.
Payment for this kind of participation with just one retailer could reach into the thousands of dollars. However, trust is a fragile entity. Too strong an identification with a commercial brand can undercut that particular blogger's credibility. Those monitoring this trend can predict that sooner than later some aspect of it will blow up. There will be a dual scandal involving both the brand and blogger.
My recommendation to bloggers: proceed with caution. It has been hard work establishing our credibility as well as our online presence. We don't want to treat those assets recklessly.