Update: This post and what the OFT’s ruling means for blogs has generated a lot of debate! It’s obvious that the issue of how to handle commercial relationships and transparency is one that engenders a lot of opinions (and emotions) in bloggers.
Our idea of creating badges/icons/visual elements that immediately convey has drawn praise and criticism, which you can see in the attached comments. The idea is that it’s a way for bloggers – in individual posts – to include an easily recognisable element that tells the reader exactly what kind of commercial connections that post has.
Our idea was to create simple, easy-to-grab elements that don’t mess with the overall design and feel of a blog – “badge” is probably the wrong word since it connotes a big box that goes in the right-hand column rather than a smaller logo in the text. But it would get the point across and meet the OFT’s guidelines.
It wouldn’t be the equivalent of a Good Housekeeping seal of approval or be policed. The point is for blogger themselves to divulge the origins of their posts, and for readers not to have to read through several paragraphs before they know the bloggers’ relationship with the company or product they’re writing about.
It’s a work in progress. What’s inspiring is the depth of feeling and thought that everyone is giving this issue, by considering how it reflects on them, on their peers and on blogs in general.
This discussion is just part of a larger conversation and will continue to grow and change. If you haven’t already, jump in and tell us what you think!
In December we blogged about the ruling from the OFT regarding consumer protection laws. The OFT is enforcing these laws with bloggers, to ensure that any content promoting a product or service where the content has been paid for is clearly marked.
Now, in a new Q&A on its site, the OFT says it will NOT be monitoring the Internet and going after individual bloggers. (It considered the action with Handpicked Media appropriate because Handpicked is a blogging network.) This is not a witch hunt. But it will be taking appropriate and proportionate action to ensure the laws are followed.
That means more than ever it’s important for all of us – as upstanding bloggers focussed on creating quality content – to get out in front of this ruling and be transparent and ethical in all we do.
But what does it mean for the day-to-day on our blogs?
We think that labelling every blog post as “sponsored” doesn’t quite cover it. Getting a free DVD to review isn’t the same as going to a press event isn’t the same as being a long-standing ambassador with a multitude of perks.
That’s why we’re coming up with some badges to help your readers understand the origination of the content without lumping all of it into one group. You can grab these and pop them into your posts to show your blog stands for quality and trustworthiness.
This is a work in progress that we’re all part of. So jump in with your thoughts on how to be transparent and blog with integrity.
Undoubtedly these won’t fit every situation, so let us know what we’ve overlooked.
To start, what are your thoughts on how to connote sponsorship on Twitter? Some people use #ad. #Sponsored works but can be long. Another possibility: #sp.
What do you think?
Photo credit: IXQUICK