BzzAgent’s Blogging Idea

Back in January, I wrote about the controversial company, BzzAgent and how they’d managed to raise $13.75 million in VC funding.

One of my points that was that while word of mouth marketing was undoubtedly very, very powerful, paying people to spread the word defeated the whole point and undermined the credibility of the people passing the good word.

Joe Chernov, BzzAgent’s PR Director, was quick to point out in the comments that the company didn’t pay people at all. They merely gave them points that could be converted into prizes, which seems like pretty much the same thing to me.

Like their core concept – a good idea, which misses the point in its execution – they came up with another potentially winning concept. Why not get a blogger to document the next critical 90 days of the company, as the cash arrives and BzzAgent really starts to motor? Handled in the right way, this could be used as a great way to examine some of the controversy, discuss the arguments and humanise the company – to Scobilise it, as perhaps we should call this form of “marketing”, in the loosest possible definition.

Sadly, they didn’t take the idea to its potential. The blogger they appointed wasn’t an independent voice who would look dispassionately at the company, the model and some of the historical issues that have dogged – and continue to dog – the company. It was CEO, Dave Balter’s co-author of his recent book, Grapevine: The New Art of Word-of-Mouth Marketing.

John Butman can certainly write, which is nice. But it seems to have turned a great potential way of answering critics into a pallid hagioblography – a blog that idealizes or idolizes the subject of the blog.

It’s entertaining enough, but what a missed opportunity.

[tags]bzzagent, scoble, blogging[/tags]

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