There's a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things, and while sometimes there exists a gray area, offering to pay bloggers for positives reviews of a product or service falls on the wrong side, plain and simple. That said, Microsoft
needs to be a little more careful in which marketing firms it hires, because one of them made the mistake of mass mailing bloggers an email offering to compensate them for writing sponsored posts about Internet Explorer
and splashing links across their social channels.
"In this program, we are looking to spread the word about the new Internet Explorer web experience in a cool, visual way, which is where you come in!," the letter reads. "Internet Explorer has teamed up with many partners in gaming, entertainment, and more, and we'd love to see you talk about your opinions on these collaborations."
The letter goes on to say that compensation is available, along with "ample opportunities for fun prizes and rewards." It's a sketchy proposition at best, and while the letter doesn't come right out and say the rhetoric has to be all positive, this still boils down to a marketing firm offering "compensation" for a "sponsored post."
I received the same letter as TechCrunch
, followed by another, and another, each of which went straight to the recycle bin. The last letter I received succinctly indicated that the program had been suspended. When pinged for a comment, a Microsoft spokesperson told TechCrunch
that the "action by a vendor is not representative of the way Microsoft works with bloggers or other members of the media."