As an active investor in social media, I’ve followed the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) since it’s founding by a handful of marketers back in 2004. The growth of marketers in the organization is a testament to the power unlocked by consumer generated content. The core of that power rests with the content creators such as bloggers, podcasters, vloggers and even to the granularity of social network participants. I think WOMMA understands that, but I fear they’ve been led astray by a minority of marketers who want to dictate payment terms when engaging bloggers. Sure, they want the exposure bloggers can deliver, but they only want to pay bloggers in free markers, coffee mugs, products, trips and passes.
Normally the market would sort that out, rewarding marketers who recognize the value of bloggers and weeding out those looking for free product reviews. Unless, of course, the largest marketers band together
to declare that barter (non-cash) is the only allowed means of transaction. That’s what recent WOMMA Code changes are attempting to do: declare that cash is not allowed, whereas non-cash is fine — even with the exact same level of authenticity and disclosure for each transaction.
As you’ll see in the comments below, I disagree with that stance from many perspectives. I feel that cash and non-cash transactions carry equal levels of conflict, but with authenticity and disclosure they can both deliver win-win-win for bloggers, marketers and readers. WOMMA is currently accepting comments on the topic and I’ve provided my comments below. Agree, disagree? Do you think it’s appropriate for marketers to dictate terms to bloggers in this way? Speak now or don’t complain when future sponsors say “I’d love to compensate you for your published feedback, time and effort, but my industry association won’t let me…how about a branded coozie?”