With the advent of social media and internet in general, one would expect large organizations like Microsoft to be fully transparent and not engage in I-will-pay-you-if-you-say-good-things-about-me kind of marketing! But does it actually happen?
The reason this question popped up was this job listing for an Associate position. The job is posted by a marketing/branding firm Mr. Youth on behalf of Microsoft. Basically, Microsoft is looking for a student who can blog about Microsoft’s new software. The associate would need to write about at least 15 topics per year and the topics would be selected by Microsoft. Here are some other things that don’t smell too fair:
You will use your existing blog to discuss various tips, tricks and advantages with Microsoft.
Acting as a peer influencer to introduce people to the benefits of Microsoft’s products.
Even if they hadn’t explicitly mentioned that you would need to influence people positively, one would expect the associate to do so after getting all those fully paid trips to tech conferences and additional incentives.
I have two simple questions:
1. Should Microsoft do this? It would be another thing if the requirement was to simply write about the software but it is a completely different thing to require associates to positively influence people.
2. Does Microsoft really need to do this? As soon as a new Microsoft software comes out, thousands of bloggers write about it anyway. Then why pay somebody to say good things about it?
It all becomes even more interesting in the light of a recent incident when Steve Ballmer reportedly fired an employee who did not show enough enthusiasm for Bing.
Do you think Microsoft should do this? Do other companies like Google and Yahoo! also employ such tactics?