Sunday, December 14, 2008
Who's going to clean up this mess?
It's funny because lately a lot of the topics I post about here have already been hashed out on Twitter, and sometimes it feels like everything's already been said by the time it gets here. Which is exactly how I'm feeling about the latest Twitterstorm that hit yesterday.
On December 2nd, Chris Brogan wrote a sponsored post about KMart on his Dad-o-matic blog. As part of the post, Chris got a $500 gift card to go on a shopping spree in KMart, in exchange for blogging his experience. He also got another $500 gift card to giveaway to readers of the Dad-o-matic blog. Chris explains that he brought his kids along to pick out toys during the shopping spree, and donated those toys to Toys For Tots.
Again, that was on December 2nd. Yesterday, Jeremiah Owyang found the post, and shared it with his 16K or so Twitter followers. And just like that, the latest Twitterstorm was born(BTW why do these 'controversies' always seem to pop up on the weekend?). If you want to get a sense of what people think about it, search here. I don't want to focus too much on this particular episode, but I will say this; Having met Chris a couple of times, and talking with him a handful of times, and knowing people that know him better than I do, I trust Chris and his intentions with this post. I believe Chris when he says that he does such posts as a way to experiment with the possibilities of monetizing content, and applaud him for this.
But I also think a larger issue here is that a lot of people appear to be opposed to blog/social content being monetized. Sorry guys, but the cat is out of the bag. The future of social media involves finding methods of monetizing created content. But every time a blogger/podcaster/content creator attempts to experiment with how this can be achieved, there's always a backlash.
Last year, Joe Jaffe came up with a very innovative idea for monetizing his popular podcast series, Jaffe Juice. Joe decided to ask for sponsorship for an episode of the show, in exchange for him receiving an iPhone. He got a taker on his offer almost immediately, and I believe he later got Dell to sponsor a month's worth of episodes in exchange for a laptop.
But then, as now, many people were opposed to Jaffe doing this(Check the comments, he had some 'colorful' objections to the idea). And the same objections were raised then, as now. That if Jaffe took any form of compensation for the content he created, then his future credibility when creating content, was called into question, on some level.
Guys, we need to get over ourselves.
Yes, I get that some think that blogging and social media is completely pure, and that no money should be involved in this space. Many also want to see this space grow and be 'taken seriously'. Sorry guys, but part of being 'taken seriously' means that businesses need to see a reason to be here. They need to know that they will get a return from putting money into this space.
If we want to see the social media space mature and move forward, then finding BETTER and MORE EFFICIENT ways of monetizing created content is a HUGE part of that equation. This is not a post arguing the merits of Pay Per Post, or receiving iPhones for your podcast. It's about supporting the idea of finding BETTER and MORE EFFICIENT ways of monetizing social content.
We can either decide to do one of two things:
1 - Oppose the idea of monetizing this space. This will likely stifle attempts to find better ways of monetizing social content, and leave us with the 'best' alternative being Google Ads on blogs that earn most bloggers pennies, and irritate most readers.
2 - Accept that monetizing social media is inevitable, and embrace the idea. This will lead to more people like Chris and Joe experimenting with what's possible, and better solutions for content creators making money from their efforts AND it will lead to the people that interact with that content getting more value as well.
I hope we do #2. I think the problem is we want to see this space move forward, but few want to actually get their hands dirty and make that happen.