Blog Comments for Hire

by Marianne Richmond on February 5, 2007

According to Adrants, a New York Ad Agency ran a posting on Craig’s List for a writer to post comments on blogs and message boards as part of a "viral" marketing campaign. A click on the link indicated that the posting had been removed so either the job has been filled or re-thought.

So, there are two questions going on simultaneously here; the one about paying for blog comments and the one about paying for blog comments to create a "viral" campaign. They are separate and inter-related.

First the "fake comment" issue. Using the descriptor, "fake comments" probably reveals my perspective on it. For those of us who believe in the conversation and the culture of blogging that is built on authenticity, truthfulness and disclosure it is only logical to view the flip side of the conversation, comments, in the same light and subject to the same criteria. In a sense, paying for comments is kind of like paying someone to be friends with your unpopular child.

 Sony was recently found to have hired promotion firm Z ipatoni to set up a fake blog to promote the PS3; then according to fake comments were posted at Kotaku linking to the related YouTube video ostensibly to increase page views. With all of the devoted PS3 users and evangelists, it is all the more ironic that a fake  blog and fake comments would be perceived as necessary much less be implemented.

 And that of course leads to the next point, "creating" a viral campaign by creating fake excitement. Or as a recent AdAge noted, "Viral is an outcome, not a strategy."

From my perspective, much like being cool, it seems to me that if you have to tell people you are, you probably aren’t and no one will believe you anyway; but cool people can tell other people that you are cool, and then you are.

Viral occurs when information about something that is perceived as great or interesting is initially spread on line by influencers, sneezers, or people whose opinions other people care about enough to continue spreading it. So, I guess if you could take a paid commenter and create a buzz around them, making them into a person of influence then you might be able start dreaming about going viral.

And speaking of buzz, Gregory Talon points out the difference between buzz and viral: timing. Buzz marketing happens at the beginning of a campaign; it is a launch strategy. In viral marketing, he notes, the virus is the product while in buzz marketing, the virus is the message. Importantly, the virus grows exponentially over time. There are some graphic on his site that visualize the curves.

So, fake comments will not produce a viral outcome; for a viral marketing campaign you need interesting, a great to exceptional something, and then someone real to spread the word.

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