Over the last couple of weeks, I have read and participated in interesting conversations around the future of the blogosphere.
First Greg Verdino wrote asking if social media is losing its innocence -- he is talking about pay-per-post compensation models. Then Gianandrea weighed in on a fake blog published by Sony with again and again and again... -- he is talking about passing for someone you're not. A couple of days later, Vaspers the Grate wrote this riff on What Will Kill the Blogosphere? -- he is talking about the difficulty in separating paid endorsements and true opinions.
What do these posts all have in common? They all try to articulate an observed phenomenon and to understand its implications in this new medium.
Noting that this new generation of bloggers, the ones I have been reading and providing links to, by and large started publishing around the same time this year or a few short months ago, it is easy to see how we're all still trying to figure out how spending hours writing at night will benefit us -- although we know it does and will.
There is intrinsic value to having the conversation, which is what the culture of expanding each other's thoughts and learning together offers. As well, by virtue of publishing what we think, we're all fleshing out our thinking and differentiating our voice in an increasingly crowded space. At some point, some time, this medium will also benefit us in more specific terms as opportunities and projects come our way.
It's only natural to think that way. We need to make a living, and I suspect we would love to do more of the work we write about. We are social creatures and we're economic engines.
So while I do not have a specific answer to the questions posed, I believe there is always a choice for all of us. We can choose to make a product and service (including our own blog) remarkable -- and I agree that a lot more than hard work goes into that -- or we can choose to pay to play. [This is a modified version of the comment I left on Vaspers the Grate's post]
When the product/service is easy to talk about because it rocks then a number of options open:
- your customers and partners can sneeze about it
- you can talk about it yourself with full disclosure -- there is proof that we still use corporate sites to learn about companies and their products
- you can provide a real platform for your fans to talk about it for you by engaging in a dialogue with them -- this is where the free opinions of connectors and Mavens come in (many of them are bloggers today)
If this all seems too complicated and difficult to do you can always:
- pay -- but you get what you pay for
So after TVs, we got TiVos; after land phones with outrageous long distance plans and telemarketers, we got cells and Skype; after all our friends and lovers got too busy to write longhand and we were left with bills and commercial mail (ok, I send out direct mail of a technical nature...) we learned to pay bills online and trash the junk mail... and on and on it goes. It's called learning.
Every time something new shows up, we need to test its limits, just like 2 year olds do. It's up to us, individually, and as a group, to choose.
[See also Ann Meyer's Referrals delivered in a personal way in today's Chicago Tribune.]