Bowles exposes an example of poor execution or intentional collusion to mislead in the social media sphere, in this case Debbie Weil’s involvement in the GlaxoSmithKline “flog” (fake blog) for the Alli weight loss goop:
[from Enterprise Web 2.0 � Deborah Weil and the Art of the Fake by Jerry Bowles]
Deborah Weil has been around the block a couple of times and she must have known when GlaxoSmithKline’s agency approached her to consult on a new flog for its Alli weight-loss product that it was a dishonest, insincere attempt to cash in on the social media craze and that the parameters set for it doomed it to failure. You can’t have a successful conversation when personal anecdotes and negative comments are banned and the few comments that are left are so obviously scripted and uninspiring. Deb stirred up a storm yesterday when she cajoled the readers of her inexplicably popular “real blog” to run over to the scene of the crime and make her client think she was worth the bundle they must have paid her. Her real mistake, though, was taking such a stupid gig in the first place.
What is really most sad about this is that Deb got there first with a book on corporate blogging so now she’s become the go-to source for mainstream media although she represents everything that is likely to destroy the positive aspects of social media. She is quoted again this morning in both the LA Times and in a WSJ feature misleadingly called Executives Get the Blogging Bug (five Fortune 500 CEOs with blogs, at least three of them ghostwritten, proves the opposite: most CEOs are sensibly avoiding blogs like the plague, but hey it’s a slow news day)
The social media revolution has given many of us aging hucksters a chance to regain a bit of our virture by finally having a strong business case for direct, honest, communication, but Weil doesn’t seem to want that opportunity. Maybe she truly believes that companies can use social media to fake transparency and control the conversation just like they did in the good old days a couple of years ago.
I haven’t yet read a book about blogging that I like, or that I think boils it all down in a useful way, including Weil’s. But that’s an aside.
What is clear is that big corporate types will continue to view blogging as “just another channel” to “push messages” to “eyeballs”. If you believe in that dynamic then there is no exact line between the minor and PR-accepted embellishments of larding third-person marketing copy with superlatives, creating phony quotes for CEOs, and the other conventional white lies of Marketing 1.0 on one hand, and the bold-faced mendacity that ‘flogs’ and other blogging-gone-bad represents. And how quickly someone who has worked to make a name for herself can find herself the poster child for an at least questionable, if not reprehensible sort of media mishagas.tags: debbie+weil, glaxosmithkline, alli, flog, jerry+bowles, marketing+2.0, social+media, blogging