Blogs : Blogs A public relations firm has stated that they are behind two blogs that formerly appeared to be created by independent supporters of Wal-Mart. Working Families for Wal-Mart and Paid Critics, the two blogs, are authored by employees of the PR firm, Edelman. The names of the authors were just recently released to the public. Many other companies such as Sun Microsystems and General Motors have begun to use blogs in the past few years.
The best corporate blogs are open, honest and authentic. Open, two-way conversations are the best way to relate to the audience. There are many risks to corporate blogging that a company needs to be aware of.
Another fake blog scandal has arisen from Sony. Sony Computer Entertainment America developed a fake blog or “flog” as a marketing tool. Zipatoni, a viral marketing firm, created the “flog” to promote Sony PSP. The “flog” appeared to be too clever and once it was released to the public that the blog was fake, the site was shut down. This is not the first time that Sony has been involved in fake viral promotions. They were previously criticized for hiring graffiti artists in cities to paint murals of kids playing with Sony PSP.
Another popular marketing trend that is on the rise is the use of a meat puppet. A meat puppet is a fictional person that poses as an actual person online. Ruckus Network, Inc., a legal network for college students to share music and videos, created a phony college student named, “Brody Ruckus”. They proceeded to set up a Facebook page for him. Facebook realized that the person was fake and removed him from Facebook. Many companies are using strategies such as meat puppet to receive buzz for their company, but it is a strategy that is deceptive.
User-Generated Advertising : User-Generated Advertising User-generated advertising is also a recent trend in marketing. Chevy Tahoe attempted this as they introduced a website that allowed visitors to use pre-existing video clips and music and create their own customized commercial. This plan worked well until many of the videos that were highly circulated attacked the SUV.
Another plan that backfired for a company was the Malibu Banana Boat Contest in which they asked consumers to create videos about Malibu Banana Rum. Malibu stated that they would use the votes of You Tube users to help determine a winner. Many of the contestants claimed the contest was rigged as the winner was named without the finalists being publicly named.
Online Privacy : Online Privacy Online privacy is an important factor of society today. Many snack companies such as Mrs. Fields and Hershey’s were penalized for violating children’s privacy on their websites. The companies asked for children’s personal information but did not administer a consent form. Both companies have been instructed to delete all information that they collected and promise to make no other violations in the future.
MySpace has also been having recent problems with online privacy. UK-based Out-law.com stated that the hack enabled MySpace users over the age of 18 to view personal profiles of users under 16. This has lead to problems such as sex offenders.
AOL also recently released search log data on subscribers. This was an accident by the company which they are angry about. AOL used identification numbers instead of names or user IDs but the people could be easily identified. All search engines collect this type of data which is valuable to marketers.