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