Good Business Opportunities?

The conventional wisdom on blogs is that they can be trusted to be real, truthful – even if occasionally boring. The blogger’s authority derives from his spontaneity and freedom. As the Cluetrain Manifesto puts it: “Corporations do not speak in the same voice as these new networked conversations. To their intended online audiences, companies sound hollow, flat, literally inhuman.”

But can that difference survive commercialization? According to Forbes, Ted Murphy, head of Izea Entertainment, a social media marketing company in Orlando, Fla., has engaged a network of 250,000 bloggers to write reviews on behalf of corporate clients like Hewlett-Packard, SeaWorld, Sears and Dirt Devil, for up to $3,000 for a 200-word blurb. He thinks about it this way: “I’m giving voice to the little guys.” (See Blogola)

Perhaps there is a surface plausibility: fresh, independent voices harnessed to corporate ends. But this ignores the inexorable unconscious influence of the blogger’s motivation on his mind — and words. If you are being paid – and want to continue being paid – your voice will adjust. Someone is looking over your shoulder, listening in, expecting results.

Those voices will start to sound hollow too.