« Comin' up Rosie: a blog begets the real deal | Main | Love amid logistical hell »

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Please talk to me (so I can STOP talking about free cameras!)

6say_3There's been a lot of talk on the Nikon Freebie Program. Since I'm still not sure if it's the "Blogger Outreach" or "Blogger Ambassador" program I'm going to call it the Nikon Freebie Program until further notice or until someone puts me in my place (Nikon: better branding is needed as different people keep calling it different things).

It's probably pretty obvious by now that I have my misgivings about this program. I think a lot of that might be due to fundamentally disagreeing with it. But it might not be...see, in some places I keep harping on the same question and then, in others, I now have newfound ones. So if I can just get answers to my questions I think I can make my informed decision and be done with it (a girl can hope).

Before I get to the questions, let me give you my 3-point program criteria (and YES this is exactly how I advise my clients and colleagues):

  • Transparency: Transparency is crucial, credible and ethical. But it doesn't add value, it ensures honesty.
  • Authenticity: The reason that we're the "new influencers" and "citizen marketers" is not because we have it in our power to blog about something and effect the world--it's because we organically decide what products, services, practices and people deserve praise or poor marks and that's pretty empowering. We base it on the virtue of the product's superiority, availability and price--the novelty, too. So the benchmark is: would you organically and authentically blog on this product with no other incentive besides it's just that great, or just that bad?
  • Value: The program, product, whatnot, should add value to the community (the entire community, not just the freebie people) as well as to the company. I see how the freebies add value to the recipients--and it's already added value to Nikon--but I'm not seeing value to the rest of the community.

Am I saying that companies shouldn't reach out to us? Not at all. Companies need to run and people need to make money. For me, it's how they create value so as to advance this medium and we marketers (I'm big on all things advancing). Some say "we're not journalists, we're "opinionistas." True dat. But I count on the opinions of this community being organic and driven by items we're passionate about, not ones that we wouldn't otherwise promote. It's why I heart this community so much. More to the point, it's why I trust this community so much.

Several marketers have said the program makes us credible, credible to be sold to? Credible to (gulp!) sell to one another? I don't understand this rationale folks; I already knew we were credible (or otherwise we sure do spend a lot of time at our computers for naught). How does this add credibility? Because we can influence our valued colleagues and friends to buy stuff that we wouldn't otherwise and organically blog about?

If you guys will please just give me answers I promise to give you an open mind:

Mack wants to do this program for the community by seeing it from the inside. I get that, it maps to his community-building focus and everyone should understand that Mack is a very good friend of mine and deserves major thanks for putting up with me on this one for the past week (Mack, I owe you a free camera). 

  • Question for Mack: What does it mean to be reporting from the "inside"? I don't understand what happens in there. I get reporting from inside at an event but not this particular program. Besides having the camera for 6 months...what kind of feedback, direct lines to Nikon management or whatnot happens in there?

Jaffe says this program makes him a "better blogger/contributor" and that he'll "argue damn hard against anyone who wants to challenge him." Maybe I should be scared. Ah heck, curiosity killed the cat.

  • Question for Jaffe: I'm not looking to duel. Just talk. Especially since you opened the convo. I don't understand, since your blog already has such great material all the time--and I really applaud your fatblogging posts, very (!) cool and brave--how does a free loaner camera make you a better blogger/contributor? Does that mean those of us who didn't get the freebies won't be better bloggers? Say it ain't so.

I'd really love to hear from Nikon and/or MWW Group (Tom? Chris? won't you please talk to me?). I was hoping to get feedback from you over at Mack's place being I spent a lot of time over there (sigh).

  • Question for Nikon and/or MWW Group (and since Nikon is reaching out why aren't they talking?): Since I've asked everyone else it's only fair I ask and be open to your views: How does this program add value for the community?  I get what it does for Nikon. Oh, one more please..what is the ratio of male to female bloggers that were given free, loaner cameras, since I understand recipients were not randomly selected? Pardon me if that is listed somewhere and I missed it (I do know BL Ochman is participating).

What...you thought I'd let All YOU smart, savvy community members get by without a question? Not a chance, kids!

  • Question for all those who have NOT received a freebie: Have you folks that have not received freebies received value from the promotion? If so, how? If not, how could they have added value to the community?

I'm all ears and I'm also happy to answer any questions you might have for me. Thanks ;-).

Disclaimer: No, I didn't write this post for a freebie. I got myself a nifty name-brand digi camera a few months back for half the price because this NYC shopper knows where to go to avoid the 200% retail markup (I marketed retail in a past life, I know the tricks and would be happy to share with you guys how to save money...not spend it).

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

CK, I think marketers have every right to target bloggers to help them communicate information about a product or service they are trying to sell. Marketers and their public relations people should carefully target and respectfully and honestly pitch. (You've already posted about that, as have BL and I, among others.)

You, as the blogger, can say yes or no to the pitch and to receiving a freebie. If you say yes, you still have the right to decide not to write a thing about the product. Or, you are free to write anything you choose -- positive or negative. It's understood by marketers and PR people that's the chance they take by giving you information or putting a sample product into your hands.

Companies do this with journalists all the time. When I did PR for Jaguar, we had a substantial press fleet of brand new cars that were constantly loaned to journalists. Our hope, of course, was that they'd love the car and write good things about it. But sometimes they didn't. And there were a few journalists who always ask for a press car and never write a thing about it. If it happened a lot, we'd simply drop them from our list.

Of course, bloggers are not journalists -- at least, they're not paid to report. So, if any blogger prefers not to take a freebie or a sample, all they have to do is say "no thanks."

If a blogger thinks he or she may get some good information or good hands-on experience that can help him form an opinion to share with others, that's not "selling out." If any particular blogger crosses the line and starts acting only like a shill, others will eventually recognize it and that individual blogger's credebility will be shot. It won't necessarily hurt the overall blogging community, unless transparency and honesty get buried by too many people.

So, Mack, shoot away and then let us know what you think of the camera. I trust your opinion and your integrity.

(Damn, this is so long I should have made it a post at my blog.:-) )

First, I don't think you can call it a 'freebie' program, since no one has been given a free camera. I think 'loaner' program is completely accurate, since we have been given the cameras on loan, not for free.

"Question for Mack: What does it mean to be reporting from the "inside"? I don't understand what happens in there. I get reporting from inside at an event but not this particular program. Besides having the camera for 6 months...what kind of feedback, direct lines to Nikon management or whatnot happens in there?"

What I mean by that is that I get to blog on what, if any, community-building efforts either Nikon or fellow D80 program participants are spearheading. If problems/issues arise over involvement in the program, I get to blog on how Nikon and MWW handle this.

If may be that I get to use a camera for 6 months, and never heard from Nikon, and never hear from MWW until they want to know if I am going to buy the camera. If that's the case, I'll blog about that. In fact I am probably going to have a follow-up post tomorrow on what has, and hasn't been happening.

Something to keep in mind, this is only like the 3rd major 'blogger outreach' program that's been executed. We had the 'Sprint Ambassador' program, which if I recall, hinged on bloggers getting a free phone for 6 months, IF they agreed to blog about it. Then came the Edleman-Microsoft Vista disaster, where Microsoft let bloggers get a copy of Vista, but many bloggers didn't disclose the fact that they were give a FREE LAPTOP to run it on.

And this Nikon D80 program is the next one, and so far it's easily the best I've seen. But we are still in pretty much unchartered waters, as there have only been a handful of such programs. THAT is why I'm making such a push to blog about the program itself, because I think THAT is how we all benefit, by breaking down what is happening, and our feelings about it. Since this area of marketing is still in its infancy, this is a great chance for us to discuss how to involve bloggers in such marketing programs, and figure out together what the best practices is.

But I still aint bloggin' about the camera, unless I buy it.

Nikon's program is what I believe to be an excellent case study...because they acted well, and the ball is in the recipients' court.

I agree with Mack's position on what/how/when he'll be reporting; it's completely in line.

Nikon wins no matter what. Brand awareness through mere discussion has been made. Even if no one evangelizes the product, the "Nikon D80" is in people's heads. When they pass by the camera section at [insert favorite electronics retailer], they might just take a look out of curiosity. It happened to me.

Somehow "Canon" may still be a great brand in the mind, but Nikon now stirs a bit of intrigue. Is this micro-marketing effort worth the cost? Oh yeah.

I'm not offended that Nikon is either experimenting with using this medium or that I wasn't offered a chance to experiment with the camera. I'm not sure I'm their target, anyway. At best, I could blog about the program, using the camera as a prop. I think Mack's approach would be similar to one I would take. Since Mack is already doing it, there is no need for me to.

When Jaffe blogs about the camera, though, I pretty much skip it. As I said, I'm not the audience. I enjoy snapping good pictures as much as the next guy, but it's likely beyond what I'm willing to spend for a digital camera.

Nikon seems to have said all the right things to the bloggers about the program.

1. They are not obligated to blog about it.
2. If they do blog about it, they have to disclose their participation in the program.

The other conditions (you have to send the camera back or buy it at a discounted price) is ancillary to me. If it was a free camera, with rules 1 and 2 above still in place, I still have all the information I need to judge the credibility of any post made about it.

Having established those rules, I'd say their integrity is intact. What the bloggers do with it is entirely up to them. As I said, I'm not their target, though, so I'm inclined to skip the posts that have nothing to do with how it can help me do whatever it is I came to the blog to do in the first place.

It seems to me Nikon would get better mileage targeting the blogs of amateur photographers or photography hobbyists.

I don't consider the camera a freebie. I consider it a loan. And if i like it after using it, I will buy it.

I have scrupulously tagged every photo I've posted on Flickr as being taken with a Nikon D80 as part of Nikon's blogger outreach program, and I will continue to do that.

If and when I write about it in my blog, I will explain in each post that I have the camera on loan from Nikon and refer back to my original post explaining the program.

HOWEVER - I am more than a little distressed that I have asked MWW repeatedly to tell me who the 50 bloggers in the program are and I have not gotten an answer.

I do want to know whose company I am keeping and I think I deserve an answer.

Living outside the US and thus ineligible for the program, I hope I can write without being accused of sour grapes. As I commented over at Jaffe's blog, my qualms about this program derive from the length of the loan, the discounted purchase option and I guess the ticket pirce of the item. Specifically, they are as follows.

Does it really take six months for any "amateur" photgrapher to assess a camera? Once an assessment is made, shouldn't the camera go back to the manufacturer? And if a blogger is able to buy the camera at a discounted price, doesn't that reperesent a cash payment to them for their services?

Hi there folks. Sorry I couldn't respond sooner but I've been dueling with some deadline demons. I'm back now. This comment is to give some updates (next comment will respond to each of you who so kindly gave me your time).

Updates:

#1: Cool name that's never used: I have found out that the official name of the program is "Picture This". I think it's quite cute...but don't see anybody using it. Good branding lesson learned for marketers going forward.

#2: Women and cameras: From what I understand right at 1/4 of the recipients of the loaner program are female. While female, I'm no shutterbug (though I have posted sooo many pics on this blog). I'll need to inquire as to whether males comprise 75% of the camera-buying market. But females do make up between 50-51% of the earth (I think).

#3: Talking to us: MWW group has reached out to me and I need to give them the respect to compile their answers which I hope they copy here (I think they will but will link to the post if not). I consider them colleagues, and they got back to me early this morning...I need for everyone to know that goodie.

#4: Nikon, to my knowledge--and please show me if I'm wrong--has not reached out to the 'sphere. Amazing the respect they will gain when they do. Frankly, amazing to me they have not. NOTE: If we're going to "reach out" then we need to reach out. It's a conversation. Especially being they're getting free advice from top talent (we all work and or consult for co's as big as Nikon and I bet they get back to journalists who give them free coverage). My opinion and what I would advise my clients in like situations? The BIGGEST piece of value Nikon can get out of this program is respect--and relationships. Reality note: The camera model is but one model. Models and products come and go....the relationships are long-term. Net/net: the opportunity are the relationships--and not just those of the ones getting the loaners. I can't wait to hear from them and will be fair and open. Promise.

"And if a blogger is able to buy the camera at a discounted price, doesn't that reperesent a cash payment to them for their services?"

Would you rather we pay full retail for a used camera? I don't see the discount as a form of payment, but rather to cover the 'depreciation' of the camera.

Now if they offer us the chance to buy the camera for $50 in 6 months, then you may have a point.

"HOWEVER - I am more than a little distressed that I have asked MWW repeatedly to tell me who the 50 bloggers in the program are and I have not gotten an answer.

I do want to know whose company I am keeping and I think I deserve an answer."

My guess is Nikon/MWW are considering each blogger's privacy and not releasing the names. I think the blame for non-disclosure falls to the individual bloggers in this case.

David: Thanks so much and it was a perfect-sized comment --maybe you should post it on your side! I see all your points and of course I trust Mack (as you know - like you, Mack is one of my best friends!). I am looking for the value this adds to the community. You gave me your feedback on that question via e-mail but I don't believe in copying and pasting "off-the-blog" copy so I'll leave that question open to you here...feel free to copy and paste your answer (I just don't feel right doing so). I think it a valuable answer for others to see, btw.

One more question for you since you advise companies in media relations: Do you think Nikon should have responded by now? Honestly asking your professional opinion. My stance on this is in my earlier comment regarding "updates".

Mack: I've not had a heck of a lot else to call it since I didn't know the name. And, let's face it, we marketers know what hot buttons resonate with our audiences. Technically it is a FREE camera for 6 months. I'll now try to call it by the program's brand name--and apparently I'm the ONLY one doing it since I finally asked. Amazing to me the branding wasn't better communicated. Especially being the name of "Picture This" is darn clever ;-).

I'm looking forward to your post tomorrow and I'm really looking forward to what the inside scoop bring us. I still don't know what that entails but I know you're going to answer that for me, you and everyone.

Mario: Yep, it is a good case study and if I have my druthers it will be a real-time one. Question: while "Nikon wins" as you say, and I agree, how does the community? I'm seeking the VALUE and Authenticity of this program. That is, after all what I preach and practice. I need to understand where the value lies for the community--I know where it lies for the company (Nikon). Open to your feedback, as always ;-).

Cam: Yep, honesty and integrity is intact. And I fully support and encourage experimenting. But where oh where is the value for the community? I know I sound like a broken record but transparency, authenticity and value are important to me--and the advancement of this medium. It's new so we're learning as we go. I want to set the bar high, thusly focusing on vaue. Btw, thanks so much for your comment.

B.L.: Thanks for coming over and for commenting on all the posts all over. I know you have tagged like crazy and I know your support of ethics (I share them). I need to know where the value lies for this community. This community is my focus as I grow with you guys and grow my own clients. I would value your feedback on value. And I agree that you deserve an answer and believe you will get one as MWW was responsive to me early this morning--and will be giving us more feedback.

John: Thanks so much for addressing some other issues and while I'm penning this long reply, I see that Mack has offered some feedback on the fronts you cite. Please tell me...where is the value for the community? Yep, I'm a broken record because I'm not seeing the value. Granted, I might be missing it...that's why I'm asking.

Net/net: I see the value for Nikon, I see the value for the "Picture This" recipients...where oh where in the Web 2.0 world is the value for the community? It has to be a two-way world; that's sustainable, ethical and yes, advancing.


Mack - no of course not - but if you choose to take up their offer, you will be paying a discount price for a product you've had from new - hence my suggestion that you're effectively being paid.

You asked about Nikon's response... I don't know how long it's been since Mack asked. Remember that hgis is all new ground that's being broken, and Nikon or MWW may need to get approvals on statements they make. All it takes is one key person traveling, or (I hate to say it) awaiting a lawyer's ok, and a few days can go by. Since this is new ground, they may not be used to instantaneous feedback.

I would advise Nikon to respond. As someone said, it may be a privacy issue as to why they are not disclosing names of all the bloggers. If so, you have to respect that.

David: Thanks so much(and so quickly, too!). Yep, they should be voicing-in...not just put it on their ageny (no fair). I always need to bounce the PR questions off of you since you do this everyday.

Yep, it's new ground. But Nikon is a formidable, mature company with smart marketers at the helm.

They've run amazing marketing and PR campaigns..they "know the drill" on at least what needs to be at the ready.

All the co's I work for always have messaging points at the ready. So I believe there's a balance.

I do hope they understand it's about a) value to the community (the entire community) and b) the relationships. I'm looking forward to hearing from them and I hope they see and value the amazing and free advice we've given them. I believe they will be thankful. But until they talk it unfortunately gives it a bad spin. It's the age of conversation--and we're quite delightful (and darn smart) to talk with.

CK - The 2-way conversation I think you're talking about would be helpful...particularly if we're talking about product development. The conversation can still take place, though, without Nikon's participation.

The way I see it, they just provided the centerpiece of that conversation and got out of the way. They'd be wise to monitor that conversation as it takes place, and if they were to participate/get feedback directly through the blogs that choose to mention the camera, they would have to disclose who they are and where they work every time they post.

Not a bad idea, but not a deal-killer, for me, if they chose to not go that route.

"Mack - no of course not - but if you choose to take up their offer, you will be paying a discount price for a product you've had from new - hence my suggestion that you're effectively being paid."

Don't see it. If Nikon were 'paying' me, then what are they paying me for? To blog about the camera? It's up to me if I choose to blog about the camera. To take pictures with the camera and post them? Again, that's up to me. To tell others about the camera and pictures I take with it? Again, that's up to me.

There's no agreement in place, ie if we do this, Nikon gives us this.

Now if I turned my blog into the "Listen to me gush about the Nikon D80!' blog for the next 6 months, then yeah, I could see where some could say I was being 'paid' to blog about the D80.

But to say that we are being paid to blog about the D80 because we got a camera on loan for 6 months is a bit short-sighted, and hurts the space more than it helps IMO.

Again maybe that's not your claim, but if it is, I disagree.

CK you're right, Nikon and MWW haven't done a good job of explaining exactly what the program is called.

CK, you can post my emailed comments from earlier. I didn't keep a copy.

I don't see the big deal about "value to the community." To me, it's a very simple proposition here:
In this case, Nikon wants to get some talk about their new camera. They ask some bloggers to try it and, if they wish, post photos they've taken. I don't know details of the rest of the program, but some marketing bloggers will write about the whole process. Photo hobbyist bloggers will likely write about the photo-taking experience. And some people will play with the camera, possibly buy it at a discount, and not write a word about Nikon. That's the chance you take with P.R. sampling.

What "value" must there be? If you prefer to participate in a company's marketing effort because they're giving something back -- be it a donation to a good cause, or free whatever-they-sell to needy people -- that's cool. But I see no problem with a company inviting bloggers to talk about their product simply because the company wants to sell more. Some bloggers will do it; others will choose not to. Why must there be this holy "community value" thing? We are just a bunch of people trying to share ideas and info -- for fun, for knowledge, for comraderie, and also maybe for business reasons as well.

Now I'm not saying bloggers should take money to write nice things for a marketer... unless they make it clear to readers that's what they're doing. But there's no enforceable rule. And what's to prevent some from writing about things because they got freebies? It will be up to us, the readers, to determine what's genuine and what's a payoff. If we feel we're being duped, we simply don't go to that site anymore.

Sometimes the "value" is the sharing of information. And the value for a marketer giving samples is, very simply, to help sell product. It can be just that simple.

David: Per your request here is what you emailed earlier in response to my question on value. I will answer you under "separate cover" (that's code for another comment ;-):

From David Reich:
Value to the community is, as long as blogger writing about Nikon is transparent and honest, readers get a real person's review of a product they might possibly havbe interest in. If not of interest, then they simply don't read that post or certainbly don't act on it.

It's like reading a review in a magazine -- you aren't always interersted in the product that's being reviewed. Doesn't mean you cancel your subscription, though.

Again, the key here is honesty and integrity. Some bloggers (none of OUR friends online) will be pigs and sell-outs. But over time, you'll learn who's honest and who's not -- just like in life.

And in mainstream media, especially in smaller trade pubs, how often do you see a product reviewed and then a few pages later there's an ad. Many small trade pubs tend to blur the line between ads and editorial.

So if someone gets a free or discounted camera or book or widget out of the deal, big deal. It's part of the marketing process.
-- David Reich (from the desk of)

David: 3 things on your points up there...and thank you for addressing the value question.

#1: "What "value" must there be? If you prefer to participate in a company's marketing effort because they're giving something back -- be it a donation to a good cause, or free whatever-they-sell to needy people -- that's cool. But I see no problem with a company inviting bloggers to talk about their product simply because the company wants to sell more."

As I said way up above in the original post, I've no problem in companies approaching bloggers (I, like many of us, will be teaching co's how to do so). But in so doing I advise transparency, authenticity and value. We don't have authenticity and value here. We just don't blog about cameras...we naturally do about, say, themes from books, current events and practices. Where is the value for the community? Why couldn't Nikon have created a promo where they asked vertical industries (vertical 'nodes' of the sphere) to submit their best group shots of the community, or a scrapbook or something? And they archive ALL the shots for free forever? And then 50 winners from each node get to win a camera? Then we would have had an archive of the shots of our community...why couldn't they have been more creative, added more value and sponsored something that would have long-term value? I'm not sure cuz I along with many of us would have advised them to be more creative and involve EVERYBODY.

#2:"It's like reading a review in a magazine -- you aren't always interersted in the product that's being reviewed. Doesn't mean you cancel your subscription, though."

Being a reader of a magazine and a participant in a conversation is not at all the same thing. Nowhere near. I know it's easy to try and draw correlations but not at all the same. I can't compare the two. I pay that magazine to deliver content, ads and reviews to me. I interact and participate in this community for free because it's transparent, authentic and of value to me. Bloggers, while becoming influential like, say, journalists, are not the same. Look at how those great posts on your side have been saying how biased the news is? While there's transparency going on with Nikon, to think that freebies don't make for bias is, IMO, not correct. It skews the convo (and yes I know that these are transparent, still skews the convo).

#3: "Sometimes the "value" is the sharing of information."

I agree that sharing the info. is valuable. Take any of our convos. We share marketing practices and thought leadership all the time...that's in line with why we're here (to advance ourselves in our profession). But a camera? How can sharing value about a loaner camera be valuable information? That opens the door for sharing info. on sneakers, candy bars, computers, etc. that wouldn't authentically be part of this great convo.

Take Twitter, we talked up twitter because bloggers authentically found it useful. No one--not a one--in this community has been talking cameras. We have been talking a bunch of other items and issues because, yes, the sharing of that information is valuable...and authentic being it's sponsor-free (as a free/loaner/whatnot is a sponsor). Hope that was clear, pal. Admittedly I'm I'm a bit tired...but thrilled with what all you've given me to chew on. And thankful for your participation.

"Take Twitter, we talked up twitter because bloggers authentically found it useful. No one--not a one--in this community has been talking cameras."

That is precisely why I would ordinarily skip those posts and why I thought the program would be better suited for amateur photography blogs or hobbyists.

Your point has a lot of merit. I don't think they'll be getting as much out of it as they could, but to your original question (to those of us who haven't received such an offer), I don't feel devalued as a result of the manner in which they went about it.

The way I receive value from the promotion is precisely in the way we're discussing it now, and how we will discuss it on Mack's blog solely from a new marketing perspective... Not because I necessarily see value in reading about a (likely) awesome camera I will never spend the money to get, nor would I have the capacity to make the best use of it, even if I got it for free.

All: You know what would have been a GREAT promo? Marketing bloggers and their kids...or their pets! How fun. And archive them at a site sponsored by Nikon. The 50 people who most resemble their pets get a free camera (or maybe I'm too tired and talking nonsense).

But *something* where the community gets value and gets to know each other more and, lo and behold, has Nikon to thank. Why not something of long-term value? That builds equity?

AT THIS POINT, one thing is for sure, we need for Nikon and MWW to address us on these. Mack's been having this convo for OVER a week. Being that we're asking them they need to respond.

Cam: Thanks much! I do think it's of value to discuss this program from a best and worst practices vantage point. Yup, that is very valuable. But they could have involved everybody and we don't otherwise authentically post on cameras--even when we do so transparentally. I just want to get companies thinking on value since we're in the oh-so-critical early stages right now. We're setting precedents, IMO.

Actually, Cam, take the case-in-point of the gentleman from your company who sent some notes to we bloggers. Why did we appreciate his style? He respected us, he was responsive to us and he came from a place of giving us value. David was very impressed with it and he gets notes for pitches all the time.

"That is precisely why I would ordinarily skip those posts and why I thought the program would be better suited for amateur photography blogs or hobbyists."

I can only guess based on Tom's comments on my blog and the ffew bloggers that I know are involved, but it appears that they looked to get a mix of bloggers from heavy to light users. But it also appears that they targeted marketing bloggers, obviously wanting us to blog about the program.

And here's another point (and I may have mentioned this here already, I honestly can't remember on which blog I said what at this point), if they had given this offer to several of us that simply didn't like the program, guess what we are going to blog about? How we don't like Nikon, and don't like this program. That would have been a hellacious broadside Google swipe to this company, and would have cost them a TON of sales. But Nikon and MWW felt confident enough in how they had laid the program out to give us free reign to run with it. I think they deserve props for that.

As we are seeing on Digg tonight, if you piss off your community, they won't waste any time in turning on you.

Mack, thanks for staying with this...a couple things:

1) "I can only guess based on Tom's comments on my blog and the few bloggers that I know are involved..."

Am I missing comments from MWW and Nikon? I've been good to check on these debates but only saw 1 comment from Tom so far that thanked us for our input. Please show me these comments in the case I'm missing them.

2) It took me all of 5 minutes to come up with a program that benefited the ENTIRE community. See my most recent comment above. Isn't that what it's about? (Long-term brand equity, I mean.) Do you agree that offering a program that benefits the entire community is optimal? I'm interested in your take. Obviously it's the way I would advise co's. so I'd like to bounce that strategy off of you, and others.

Thanks to you and everyone for all your bandwidth.

Hi all - just wanted to directly address the question(s) that CK has made up above.

There are a few answers to this question, but first, some clarifications to questions you’ve addressed elsewhere and in the comments. As you and others have pointed out, some (though not all) of the participants in this program are not necessarily big “shutterbugs” as far as what they write online about, and that would be absolutely correct. That isn’t the case for the entire group, however. That being said, the intention of this program was never to talk only to photo enthusiasts. Instead, we wanted to reach out to folks who enjoy taking great pictures and sharing opinions about them with others – because with some luck, others will see how much fun they’re having with the D80 and may want to check one out for themselves. We know that many bloggers are tough customers, and don’t feel the need to hold back their commentaries in public or private. That critical commentary, along with their honest feedback on the D80 is extremely valuable to Nikon. The other aspect of this program, and our outreach to individuals in various “segments” of the blogging and online space, is that this is in no way a “review” program. The only similarity this program shares with how review programs work with journalists is that this is a loaned camera, rather than us giving product away. Nikon is not asking bloggers to write reviews on their blogs, or in fact blog about anything at all. This was just as much about working hard to understand what Nikon’s customers, or customers of its competitors, think of its products, specifically the D80.

Agreed that for Nikon, there is the opportunity to receive a benefit of users blogging online about this effort, that is perfectly clear to all involved. But everyone who has received a camera has chosen to “opt in” to the program after receiving our initial communication to them, and we believe that we’ve done our homework on who would be the best recipients of the D80 digital SLR camera. The smaller community involved in the Picture This effort has the obvious benefit of being able to try out a D80 for an initial six-month term. But we believe the value to the greater community is that participants in this program can a) shine some light on how a program such as this works, and fuel the healthy discussion that you have been a part of for the larger group; b) help build the value that a citizen journalism site, such as participant K. Paul Mallasch’s Muncie Free Press, with richer content should he, or any other participant of those type of site choose to utilize the camera for that purpose; c) reinforce the idea that individuals within a small community that have access to a brand can have great ownership with regard to the success or failure of a product or brand; and d) enable participants to enrich their individual communities by sharing great pictures with people around them, whether in-person, on blogs or through photo sharing sites. After all, Nikon’s all about helping people take and enjoy great pictures.

The full listing of participants isn’t available as of yet, but of the individuals who have received our initial mailings so far, about a quarter of them are female, and include B.L. Ochman as you’ve mentioned, Tracy Manford (who started the Flickr Photo Group on her own) and Erin Bennett (who blogs as Gigglechick), among others. Expect this to be updated shortly, based on who has accepted to date.

Tom: Thank you for both emailing me on this and answering my questions here. Also appreciate how comprehensive you've been in your answer. Sorry it's taken me a bit of time to respond but my time was not my own today.

Understand points A and B above, I do have questions on C and D.

First:
“c) “reinforce the idea that individuals within a small community that have access to a brand can have great ownership with regard to the success or failure of a product or brand”

If I understand you correctly, then this program is to reinforce that my colleagues like Mack, Jaffe and BL have ownership on whether or not the D80 is a success or failure in the eyes of our particular community—is that what you mean? It will be interesting to see if, regarding this particular community, sales do increase as a result of this program. I’m not sure how that’s monitored other than watching blogs to see if they mention that they’ve also purchased this camera model.

That said: I wonder if anyone has purchased music by The Donnas as Mack has blogged about them at least two, if not three times and I’ve never purchased their CDs and I purchase a great deal of music. I’ll have to ask Mack if any community members have mentioned to him that they’ve bought music by that band. Another fine and authentic example is how Paul McEnany extensively blogs about musicians every weekend. I’ll have to ask him if anyone has ever emailed or commented that they’ve bought any of the music he spotlights.

I will say this: I’ve definitely bought into marketing practices and marketing books that this community has cited. Why? Because marketing practices and marketing books align with why I’m a member of this community. It’s both due to the authenticity of the subject matter as well as a motivator of mine because I place a lot of value on learning and honing my craft.

Second:
“d) enable participants to enrich their individual communities by sharing great pictures with people around them, whether in-person, on blogs or through photo sharing sites. After all, Nikon’s all about helping people take and enjoy great pictures.”

I REALLY like how you said “enrich communities” and Nikon’s focus on “helping people take and enjoy great pictures”. These lead me to this question (which aligns with my original question on value). Being that, (1) "Nikon’s all about helping people take and enjoy great pictures," (2) marketing is all about value creation and (3) social media is all about communities, do you see value created for both Nikon (brand equity, recognition, relationships, sales) and the community through programs that involve the entire community, not just 25 influencers thereof?

One could argue that giving out loaners to 25 within the community "involves everyone through discussion" but what I’m asking is launching programs that would enrich the entire community by way of enabling everyone to share and enjoy their pictures. Perhaps 25 people get a loaner but if Nikon sponsored giveaways and a site where everyone could, say, upload and vote on pics with the winners getting a camera (not just a loaner).

While I can absolutely see why Nikon would want to “touch” social media communities due to the potential they hold I’m baffled why companies (and in this particular case, Nikon) wouldn’t tap the opportunity to create programs that touch the community through a program that lets the community truly take ownership of it. It results in long-term equity and positions Nikon as having done something unique for our community. Giving loaners to 25, instead of a program that enables anyone to be eligible to get a camera is hard for me to see as “taking ownership”.

These are the types of programs that I see as innovative (for your client) and advancing (for our community). That said, I’m OK if I’m in the minority with my thinking but that 3-point criteria in my above post and programs that innovate/advance is exactly how I would–-and how I do—-advise my clients to interact with communities...especially communities that haven’t otherwise talked these types of products before (we’ve talked marketing practices but not camera products is what I mean). So I'm curious on your take on those types of programs.

Thanks again, Tom. Really appreciate your talking to me; it is of great value to me ;-).

Per my above comment I promised to ask Paul and Mack if they know whether their music posts have influenced buying behavior (they both love music and authentically blog about it. Mack talks music from time to time and Paul does every weekend).

I've received permission from both of them to include their comments here:

From Mack: "I get some search referrals, not a ton. And no I've never had anyone tell me that they've bought any of the music I've promoted on the blog or Mind the Gap. I think I had someone mention they were going to get one of the books I reviewed one time."

From Paul: "yes, for sure. i've gotten a few different emails from people who actually bought the music after reading. But, the posts do generate a fairly good amount of traffic, also. So, although some of this may not be regular readers, they will come to the blog to hear the mp3s or see the videos, and likely be further influenced to buy."

All,

If I was Nikon, I would be dancing a happy jig. For the price of 50 cameras -- they are getting exactly what they wanted -- ink.

And even for those bloggers who say they are not going to blog about the camera -- you are. You may not be saying "pretty picture" or "great interface" but you sure are saying Nikon a lot.

Everyone is making some PR person's dream come true.

I'm not saying good or bad. Just that Nikon wins in this one no matter what.

Drew

Drew: Yup, I said the same thing at Mack's place well over a week ago now. Do hope the community gains out of the process, too.

Amen, Drew - Nikon is smokin' this one. Will it sell more cameras? Is that what Nikon wants? I'm curious to see. I don't take enough photos to be considered an aficionado (and thats Nikon's brand unless I missed something in the last 30 years) so not a good candidate for consideration. Now if we can get Vespa to loan some scooters, I'd blog the hell out of that :) Not to make light of the conversation as clearly everyone has gained something - either extrinsic (use of the camera) or intrinsic (feelings, beliefs and practices of one another). That seems to me at least part of what this community is about. There's a reason communities stumble and tumble, rock and roll - its because creating them is hard work. And maintaining them even tougher. Love the conversation CK -

Bob: Your comment about communities stumbling, tumbling and growing is just wonderful. I'll never forget those lines. Way to tug at my heart ;-).

CK,

I think the world of you and in this case we're going to agree to disagree or just plain disagree.

You said: "Problem is, you can't un-ring a bell, Jaffe. There are lines we can't uncross. You've got the camera so giving it back is moot after accepting it."

I'm not giving back the camera. Why would I? What line did I cross? In order to make your argument, you would need to distinguish between me as a photo-blogger (which I'm not) and an influential blogger (which I guess I am) If the people who read me would go out and make a purchase decision based on my ability to "sell" them a camera which I, as a newbie, wouldn't even know how to hold, then they're as dumb as the naysayers are.

You said: "Programs need to create value for both sides (psst: marketing is about value-creation, not manipulation) and I fear programs like this taint the space."

Hold on a second. This is creating value. I am taking photographs and adding them to flickr - this is creating content and value. I am able to capture moments like the Geek Dinner in Dallas and Sydney. I am actually using the camera for professional reasons, let alone personal ones. No question on the value add for me. As for Nikon: a) I am more loyal to them and b) I have written about this.

Ironically, it is only because of you, Strumpette, DM etc that Nikon is getting so much ink. The real question is whether they are benefiting from the heated debate. Remember, controversy sells. Just ask Rosie :)

All you and Strumpette have done is help future blogger efforts insofar that clients will be briefed on the inevitable contrarian push-back that will come from serial skeptics and sadly, this feedback is losing its credibility radically (look at the company you're keeping)

The only tainting going on is the credibility of the naysayers.

I hate to be so heated against you and especially on your blog...but I have to say what I feel.

You guys are 100% wrong and grocely unfair. EVERYTHING that the Edelman/Vista program did wrong, this one did right and you STILL find fault with it.

So here are my 2 questions for you, CK:
1) What would you have done if this had been your program?
2) How would you suggest MWW/Nikon respond?

Hi Jaffe: You don't need to hate being so heated against me, you should say what you feel--and you are always welcome to say whatever you feel here. I genuinely mean that.

You know, you say I’m “keeping company” since I’ve posted a comment in response to your comment over at Strumpette. But here’s the facts: I posted a comment to your blog the day you wrote about Nikon asking you to talk about it. I wrote “I’m looking to talk, not debate, can we start there?” I didn’t get any feedback. I posted this piece May 1st asking you to talk about it (it’s May 25th now). I have discussed it at Mack’s blog through 3 posts over the last 3 or 4 weeks and at the Daily Fix through a couple posts over the last 2 weeks. So I post a comment—in response to your comment—over at Strumpette and I get feedback within a few hours and labeled that I’m keeping company.

I’m not a ‘naysayer’ for companies coming into and leveraging social media—actually, I’m a proponent for them doing it in a fashion that adds value to this space. While this space is not ‘new’ to us, it’s new to most of the world--and corporations-- and it’s a critical time and opportunity to set best practices. My focus has been, and will always be, what’s best for the community. And in my opinion, the way this program is formatted is neither in its best interests nor sets a best practice. But I think it could have been and I've given details in the comments above, in multiple threads over the past 4 weeks, and I'll happily give them here.

You asked me two questions and the below addresses them both. If this had been my program, or, more realistically, a program I advised a client on, I would have advised:

1. Open it up to the entire community: Instead of giving a few bloggers loaner cameras I would have given everyone who wished to be involved an equal chance at the 50. You say that the camera betters your blog so it follows that everyone would have had an equal chance to better theirs. This also serves Nikon in that they hold a promo where they get the benefit of blogs talking up the chance to experience the product and word spreads.

2. Open up feedback loops: As I advise my own clients, the value of social media isn’t selling, it’s listening (listening benefits the company by improving and creating better products, enlisting new customers, deepening relationships with existing customers and running “in-the-wild” focus groups that aren’t biased). As Mack has explained, he’s involved with this program to be able to learn and teach his audience about how this program runs (both the pros and the cons). As he pointed out the other day, besides a few emails he hasn’t received any interaction or feedback loops (e.g. a blog) with the program. Tom/MWW did say that Nikon wanted to be careful not to “own” the program too much. I can understand what Tom is saying but as marketers when we initiate programs we know to initiate feedback loops--especially in this medium where the conversation is everything.

3.Create some promos involving the entire community: Let’s get innovative and hey, pictures are fun! Pictures not only enable us to share memories they enable us to get to know one another better. What if Nikon sponsored a way for the community to share photos and, in the process, have some fun and get to know new members? Then it’s not a company coming into this space to influence but to improve (and hey, they increase their awareness and sales in the process).

4.Be responsive: The beauty of social media? It gives us access, Jaffe. It enables people and companies to start talking that haven’t been able to in the past. While MWW (Tom) has responded, Nikon hasn’t. That’s very old media where Nikon could be responsive and thank the community and cull feedback. Hey, look at how much we hailed that studio for being responsive to Chris Thilk last summer. For example, Nikon could be responsive in the current posts on the subject (you asked me how they should respond). If we're going to join the conversation, let's join the conversation.

You know, it’s all too easy for me to wax poetic on what I would do, so let’s look at how the above points are reflected in what I have been doing. Take the Book Club: everyone has an equal chance of getting a free book and anyone can join (point 1 and point 3 above), feedback loops are opened up as anyone/everyone can launch a discussion thread (point 2 and point 3) and we’re responsive to member requests being the current book was at the request of many members (point 4).

The program undoubtedly adds value to the authors but more to the members/community. How? Because we learn and we create content together--and we meet new people. And the ROI is for the community but it’s also publicity and a 20% increase in membership each segment since we’ve launched. So points 1-4 above are reflected even though that initiative is completely pro-bono (I even buy every book as I want members to get the free copies, not me).

Oh, and to your terrific point, it does help ALL members be better bloggers because of (1) the lessons we learn—which improve the wisdom and quality of their posts and (2) provides content for their blogs—content that is marketing specific regarding their take on a theme, the lessons learned, etc.

What’s more? We do not only promote the authors…look at the last segment in how we promoted a fellow member of the community’s piece on the book and gave another member exposure to an audience of 250,000+ marketers through features in articles and mailings.

PS: Btw, on Rosie. Yep, she’s controversy galore, you got that right! But please read the posts I have on her (they’re short) and you’ll see what she does for communities, Jaffe (she was the one who gave Katrina kids homes when FEMA couldn’t get its act together after a year, and she gave 9/11 responders a voice when thousands of them are sick and still ignored after 5 years, she also runs a profitable charity, etc., etc.). Too bad that most everyone remembers her controversies but few cite the amazing acts she’s done to improve communities.

I doubt many journalists got to keep a Jag for a whole year. Also, most journalists today frown on anything that appears to be a quid pro quo situation. Ethics trumps freebies everytime.

So it's onto the blogger. If a blogger takes pictures, tells me they are using a free camera and return the camera, then I can see this might be a trial period. However, I can take rolls of film and fill up a dozen SD cards in a weekend. It seems to me that is enough time to determine if this camera is a godsend. A year from now I'm going to be living in Fugi with a new camera. You're not going to find me.

As for Nikon, it seems to me they would want to have the cameras returned to determine wear, technical problems, etc. So if this is a focus group, and a technical wonder show, then Nikon is losing a valuable return on investment. Promotion is only a small part of a company's focus and I'm sure the engineers would love a little feedback too.

So overall, I think this just smacks of payola and it's going to be very hard for anyone to paint it differently. Even Jaffe indicates he's not returning the camera; clearly he's not kicking a gift horse in the mouth.

@Michael: Just wanted to thank you for chiming in on my blog (we explore all sorts of topics here and my comments aren't always so darn long!). I didn't even think about how the engineers would benefit from the wear/tear on the camera...great thinking, really.

I haven't been following this whole thing too closely as I;ve had a hectic few weeks. I did weigh in early in this discussion.

I just took a look at Jaffe's current post and it reads like a damn ad for the camera. I'm glad he's enjoying using it and getting some nice pix. Could those pix have been taken with another, like my Canon G5? For sure. I like my Canon G5 and I'd recommend it as a good mid-level digital that's got lots of features but is easy to use. (Disclosure: I bought my Canon G5 about 3 years ago at B&H in Manhattan. No company discounts, coupons, samples or loaners.)

Disclosure aside, Jaffe's post reads like a "sellout" to my eyes. Joseph, if you read this please understand: I don't know you and I am trying hard not to be personal or nasty about it. This comment is meant honestly in the spirit of open discussion, and I am willing to listen, learn and possibly be convinced.

@David: Thanks for chiming-in. You wrote a great piece on this issue for the Daily Fix and in case readers haven't seen it, I wanted to give the URL (readers: it was a balanced article exploring both sides). That URL is:

http://www.mpdailyfix.com/2007/05/blogging_for_booty_1.html

I just want for readers to be able to see it since it was written since this post.

Guys,

As a marketer and marketing blogger, I've learned a lot from this exercise.

I still believe you're all being way too harsh on MWW and Nikon.

I appreciate your good natured and well intentioning suggestions on how to make the program better, but here are a couple of thoughts to ponder:
1) Did you factor in how far the company has come to be here? Like CK, I work with clients who are really trying to figure this out. I suspect CK would be devastated if someone picked apart one of her programs like you all are doing with this one
2) Just because they don't take your suggestions and implement them ASAP, doesn't mean they should be villified.

Michael and David - honestly, I'd give back the camera tomorrow, but I think that misses the point.

Comments about payola, bribes and selling-ouy are absurd. Before this effort, I didn't even own a camera. Now I'm excited, enthusiastic and engaged. And that's a crime, how?

For the record, I've only chosen to dig my heels in and speak up because someone had to. No one fights back against the avalanche of blogger tirade. It's quite sad really.

I think there are way too many bloggers that a) have too much time on their hands, b) are petty, c) are jealous and d) are looking to find fault with everything.

Until you've been on the other side of the equation, you don't get a full perspective of the good, bad and ugly of blogging and blogger outreach. I've been on the criticizing end of the spectrum many, many times. My rule of thumb is that if someone takes the time and effort to respond, that's a pretty good step in the right direction.

My learnings from this are two-fold:
1) Whenever I criticize anyone again, I will make sure I end my post with a phrase along the lines of, "I'd love it if someone from company X would like to respond and if I'm wrong about anything in my post, I'd be happy to post about it"
2) I will instruct all people getting into this space that they will never make every (blogger) happy all the time and that they have to fully prepare for the criticism, however warranted or not it may be.

I still believe that bloggers should be congratulating Nikon and MWW on their efforts. I suspect the only reason why people are getting so upset is because of the dollar value associated with the camera. Quite frankly, if it has been a disposable camera, would the same venting have taken place?

And as far as I am concerned, would I have said the same thing(s), had I not been selected? Hopefully so. If not, then I am a sell-out, but those who know me, would most likely vouch for me and my integrity as such.

All in all, debate and conversation is good, but we should all be very careful as we head down this path. I fear the damage could outweigh the benefits of debate, which would be a great pity for us all.

CK,

Want to come on ATS and chat about this?

JJ

Hey Jaffe: Thanks for the opp...and hope you better understand where I'm coming from now (as I've been really giving this a good amount of time over the last month). ATS might be a good idea but, right now, and at least for this week, I really just want to concentrate on the good-ness that this community I hold so dear did for me and my momma. Have you seen it? If not, it's right here (and I'll show it to you next time you're in the city--you'll love it).

http://www.ck-blog.com/cks_blog/2007/05/speechless_and_.html

Take all the time you need and my thoughts are always with you.

We can do something in the next 2-3 weeks.

Shoot me an e-mail offline and we can set something up.

I promise I'll be good :)

Cool. I'll contact you later this week.

Wow, I don't remember the last time I've seen so many buzzwords all in one place.

As an "old marketing" guy with an understanding of "new marketing" I might offer you a different perspective:

1. This program is just a variation of the old-school celebrity endorsement.
Yup, getting someone like Joe Jaffe who is famous within a certain segment of the new media community (as opposed to having built up a "community" of friends) and having him endorse your camera isn't any different than getting Cindy Crawford to endorse your watch. And yes, there really are people out there who care what Cindy has to say and who really believe that she wears the stuff she endorses. Joe is just another stripe of celebrity, as, I suspect, are many of the other bloggers in the program.

2. The bloggers in the program lose a whole lot of credibility.
Given that the USP, if you will, of blogging is that the blogger gets to write about what he or she wants, when he or she wants, the imposition of a corporate third party takes away a whole lot of credibility. And fessing up to it doesn't really take that away. Because once you take that first step, it's all over. It's always going to be in the back of my mind to wonder why you're raving about a particular restaurant or movie or ad campaign. DId you just stumble on it, or did someone steer you there?

3. The audience doesn't seem to be appropriate.
First off, the risk to Nikon of alienating more people than they win over is very real-- lots of pissed off blog readers who think they're trying to pull a fast one. But just as importantly, as I wrote to CK in a separate email, blog readers seem unlikely to buy something as expensive as a digital camera on a whim. More likely they will research various cameras online on sites like CNET and even Amazon (which generally has a boatload of consumer comments) - and then they'll make their purchase decision. That's the real power of the web- the ability of a more sophisticated consumer to research a product on their own before making a purchase decison. (Or to put it another way, there are a lot of people who feel that 20 years of glowing reviews in the pre-internet Consumer Reports played no small part in Toyota's success.)

4. The premise is flawed.
Given the relatively low price of digital cameras- and the relatively low resolution needed for the web- there's no reason to assume that bloggers wouldn't already have their own cameras. Beyond that, there's no need for a high-end camera if all you're doing is posting 72 dpi pictures on your blog. And finally, the D80 is a large and clunky camera. Someone hoping to capture serendipitous pictures would be best off carrying around one of those mini digital cameras (you know, the ones that are about the size of a deck of cards) that Sony, Canon and Kodak all sell.

TT

"Given that the USP, if you will, of blogging is that the blogger gets to write about what he or she wants, when he or she wants, the imposition of a corporate third party takes away a whole lot of credibility. And fessing up to it doesn't really take that away. Because once you take that first step, it's all over."

@Tangerine Toad: Thanks for taking the time to comment over here and read this looong thread! While you justifiably call it a buzzword, the authenticity (stepping over that line/cred) is diminished for me with this program.

Sure, I'll write on a marketing book (if and only if I've read the whole thing) that someone brings to my attention because authentically I'm a wonk over marketing. But when my posts start to talk about items that have been lent to me I not only feel I'm doing myself a disservice, I fear I'm risking what I hold most dear - the trust of my readers.

Hey, readers don't have to agree with me (and they often don't and I encourage that...just like I encouraged your position over at Jaffe's blog and I learn from it. But readers need to trust that what I'm posting on is authentic (sorry 'bout the buzzword). That's huge to me.

Appreciate your other points on the premise, audience, etc.

I know I'm coming late to the conversation here, but I have to add my two cents. I generally agree with CK on this one. Toad brings forward some fine points too.

There are two points that seem to be missing.

As BL pointed out, one can't get a list of the bloggers who received the camera. But we know that BL and Joseph Jaffe both received them. Both of them are "A List" of new media marketing bloggers. As they should be. But it must be somewhat cool to be on that list. That list of 50. And honor...especially when you're honored and you've received this new gadget from Nikon.

I guess what I'm saying that programs like this say to certain bloggers "you're and others like you are in the elite and we respect that, so we've turned to you for you to use our new product and describe what it's like...because we feel that you're very important".

It must feel cool to be elite. It must feel cool to be important. Of course, I didn't get one, so I'm not cool.

In other words - and I'm not saying this as a swipe against Joseph or BL - it sorta feels as if the cool kids in high school got these new things for free because of their status of being cool.

The other point is that we don't really know what each of the recipient's 'cameara experiences' are. Do they have a deep, solid knowledge of cameras or is any new gadget like this going to WOW them? Most new gadgets seem to have a wow factor.

If I had been Nikon, I would have chosen bloggers who blog about 1) cameras and 2) technology overall. Then I would have carefully selected 10-20 max bloggers such as mommy or daddy bloggers or travel bloggers who, by their lifestyle would naturally be disposed to use cameras. Sure, toss in a few marketing bloggers as well, who will also talk about the strategy. Nothing the matter with some of the cool kids in class. But the reality is, when comes crunch time, I'll probably go to tech blogs to check out reviews on cameras. Or blogs that involve the concepts of taking pictures of families or that vacation I'd love to plan.

@Jonathan: Thanks so much for your points...don't worry, this discussion is still ongoing and I hear you LOUD (and clear ;-).

"I guess what I'm saying that programs like this say to certain bloggers "you're and others like you are in the elite and we respect that, so we've turned to you for you to use our new product and describe what it's like...because we feel that you're very important".

It must feel cool to be elite. It must feel cool to be important. Of course, I didn't get one, so I'm not cool."

I have a BIG issue with how they gave out cameras. My solution would be to hold a raffle of some sort so EVERYone had an EQUAL shot of getting to try one since, let's face it, this community are not necessarily shutterbugs. Then again, if I ran this promotion it would have an element to it that would give value to EVERYone (why wouldn't Nikon want to give value and build brand equity? I'll never understand). Have a promo that enables the community to share pictures with many prizes--a promo where we receive value (and um, fun!) from all taking part.

But no. It seems a plight to influence and when we look to influence we turn bloggers into selling agents (even if they don't know it) and we lose credibility and trust in the community.

My BIG question: if others and I have thought of promos that benefit all...how come Nikon couldn't? Why divide when uniting is so darn easy--and nets so much more ROI?

I'll be holding a call for questions next week on my blog where I ask the community to submit questions for my upcoming podcast discussion with Jaffe and others...please feel free to submit a question as I want to keep involving all you fine folks.

Thanks again. I really appreciate your view and good points. Btw, nice to 'meet' you ;-).

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In.