We have regularly covered the “gifting” of companies to those that comment on the net. For me there can be no better way to ensure loyalty as the receiver of the gift(s)/awards not only showers praise on the giver out of gratitude, but continue that praise in the hope more freebies are forthcoming.
All this is great for the giver, you have a pimp for your products who will flood every forum they visit with comments in favor of your company. Of course the problem comes when the gifting stops; and we may be seeing an example now.
It’s being reported that MVP’s (of the Microsoft ilk) are a little upset that their sugar daddy is not providing them with a free Windows Mobile 7. We heard recently that Microsoft will be giving them out to employee’s (no doubt to boost the numbers) and whilst I went on record by saying prior to its release it will crash and burn, there’s nothing like a freebie and some of the MVP’s want a piece of the action.
Unfortunately for them it’s not coming. Maybe the catastrophic failure of the Kin and the millions lost with it, maybe its because that despite Microsoft implying success with Bing it is reported to still be loosing a lot of money. Whatever the reason, the Microsoft teat is not giving milk to the MVP’s that are suckling on it greedily and that’s caused more than a few to be rather upset.
Over on http://msmobiles.com/news.php/9256.html it says:
While Microsoft will be giving away free Windows Phone 7 phone to all Microsoft employees, now MVPs want to get them. And there are several MVP groups related to Windows Phone: Windows Phone MVPs (the losers who think of themselves as power users)
But apparently has very little sympathy for them when it says:
Maybe instead of whining like little girls, MVPs who want to get free Windows Phone 7 should make some apps for Windows Phone 7 and then, and only then, demand free handset? Heh?
Oh well. Bad news….But wait! all is not lost! Microsoft is gifting something else! Yep that’s right! Tell them your Microsoft Office story and you could get yourself a loaner PC! Exactly what the terms of a loaner PC are, is anyones guess. I filled in the online contact sheet asking that question and have had no reply. Lets hope its not like the last time: http://laughingsquid.com/microsoft-sent-a-free-laptop-with-windows-vista/
But then again, why not? If you can’t get independent advocacy, why not buy it! To read more on the latest “scheme” on Microsoft and Office, you should go here, where its said:
Care to try a loaner PC loaded with Microsoft Office Professional 2010? Do you want to receive free web-based training and free product support as you learn Office 2010? If you’ve a good story to tell, we want to hear from you!
So at least MVP’s need not worry, theres still gear up for grabs! Ive seen many “good stories” told by those Microsoft advocates who claim “independent thought”……one of them was called Lucy Buntu.
Goblin – email@example.com
If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the Openbytes statement, here.
You may remember me reporting a while ago that the FTC were looking into bloggers and their “independent” views which are as a result of freebies or gifts. You may remember that we have exposed these gift receivers before and rightly ask “How much worth can you put into the words of someone receiving gifts?”
In my opinion much pro-proprietary software opinion is based on gifts (or the possibility of recieving them) and since the personal blog is looked at a whole lot differently than a mainstream news outlet, its even more important that the views in a blog are those of honest held belief.
It is being reported that the FTC has said:
The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that ‘material connections’ (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers–connections that consumers would not expect–must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other ‘word-of-mouth’ marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service
Anyone found to be not disclosing could be liable for a fine of up to $11,000. This, in my opinion is something which is long overdue. I’ve said before that the personal blog holds alot more weight (IMO) than the PR sheets or mainstream features of the latest hardware/software. However it does raise a few questions. How is this to be policed and investigated? How will the fines be imposed? and also What is the geographical remit of an FTC fine? It will be interesting to see how this develops. One way I suppose would be to insist companies disclosure their marketing contracts and in turn those companies reveal who has received what for free. Then if that person is running a blog/site without disclosing the FTC can proceed further.
There is a very interesting article here in relation to this.
Of course anyone fined for non-disclosure will be highlighted here. Honest opinion is not much to strive for is it? Maybe we will see the end of comments such as “Vista is loved”. We can but hope.
Goblin – firstname.lastname@example.org
No its not the name of a new movie, nor does it signify that the Microsoft faithful has stopped with their ever increasing desperate tactics (IMO). No its a piece of news which astroturfers may find worrying (that and seeing their cashcow being eaten by FOSS)
The FTC is allegedly planning to crackdown on bloggers/posters who recieve gifts/freebies for promoting products. Its a practice we have highlighted here before and one in my opinion that completely destroys the faith in “honest held belief” in the writings of many bloggers.
Ever read something praising a proprietary product where it has no resembelance to your experience? Its these type of posts which, because of the actions of certain proprietary firms means that when talking about proprietary software/products there is always a question of doubt in an honest held belief. (IMO)
The practice though is commonplace here (that being word of mouth marketing) one such company who can create a marketing buzz for you (as mentioned in the CNET article) http://izea.com/ and its worth keeping in mind when you see a person praising a product. What are their motives for doing so?
You can read the excellent CNET article here http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10269962-38.html
“The rules could be quite strict, even extending to the practice of affiliate links–for example, a music blogger who links to a song on Amazon MP3 or iTunes that earns an affiliate commission in the process.”
So why does it matter? Well appart from the free speech on the Net not being so free (IMO) it highlights why Twitter and similar social networking sites have been ruined by companies looking to push their products onto you. I remember many years ago when IRC was the target of numerous spambots and in recent times even the newsgroups have been hit less in favor of Twitter et al.
So what can you do? I make a point of boycotting any product that tries to push itself onto me, that may be by a company on Twitter pretending to be a normal user or it may be a site that is dressed up as a personal blog when in reality its a PR stage for proprietary products.
Going back to the FTC, I presume the only people who need to be concerned are going to be the US resident shills, however it does make you wonder that if the FTC is going after this practice, it must be pretty commonplace. I do think though that the world of Bloggers is far too big to effectively police, although the FTC could concentrate on the larger, more popular names and have an impact. For companies who rely on this practice, they could be quite embarrassed if it is made a requirement that you must disclose.
Next time someone tries to tell you a proprietary solution is great, take a step back and challenge it. Chances are its not the only option for you and who knows what “gifts” the person saying it has received?
And to end of a lighter note, here is an example of a “dodgy” comment by allegedly an average user on Twitter (by the way, if the writer of this is thinking of removing it from their Twitter, I already have a screendump, which will be shown in due course):
“Looking at some family pics of MJ, I can see he was a PC user, too bad he didn’t live to see Windows 7”
Answers on a postcard with the name of this legendary MS faithful poster! and I think the coment shows that there are no depths too low for the MS faithful.
Goblin – email@example.com