Changing consumers, challenging times

As consumers, we are all extraordinarily powerful these days. The wonderful web offers us the chance to hunt out the very best bargains, to research our purchases thoroughly and to read up on what other consumers have to say about products.

It’s an excellent time to be a shopper and service user, but for retailers and service providers this presents many
new challenges. Some businesses have embraced the way the web has
transformed their customer base but others have been slow in catching

Dispelling the TechCrunch myth

The debates over what constitutes journalism, and what the future of journalism will look like, rages on.

Last week, a firestorm erupted when TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington announced that he was launching a fund to invest in technology startups.

TechCrunch, of course, which is now owned by AOL, is a blog focused on technology startups, and while Arrington will apparently be off the editorial payroll, he’ll still be able to contribute as an unpaid blogger.

Adding fuel to the firestorm: the fact that AOL itself is investing in Arrington’s fund.

Do news organizations sell objectivity? Should they?

The Washington Post’s Twitter crackdown has created a lot of debate. At the heart of it: whether it’s okay for journalists to express their opinions publicly through social media outlets.

It’s an interesting debate and there are a lot of ways to approach it. A central issue — whether or not expressing an opinion jeopardizes a news organization’s journalistic credibility — is a fascinating subject. After all, most news organizations like to present themselves as objective sources who deliver truth and fact. But the debate over online postings that show their journalists and employees to (gasp) have opinions raises interesting questions: do news organizations even sell ‘objectivity‘? Should they?

How to create buzz with an ethical campaign

If there’s one thing the web excels at, it’s uniting people behind a cause. A number of successful marketers are using campaigns to create positive change within their industries, highlight their firms’ moral integrity and generate a hell of a lot of good publicity.

Whether it’s an international price comparison site campaigning against unfair bank charges or a local pub campaigning to protect a village green, bringing people together to put pressure on the authority has the power to create incredible buzz and excitement.

If you lose, then that buzz and excitement was still worth a lot to your company. If you win then that positive outcome is not only good in itself, it’s generated a great deal of good will for your brand.

Here are a few tips for driving a successful campaign online. By picking the right cause and the right message, your firm can market itself through good deeds…

Now for sale on Twitter: Holly Madison, Kendra Wilkinson, Chris Pirillo and more!

Twitter was borne of a simple idea: co-founder Jack Dorsey was interested in “being able to know what his friends were doing“. Since Twitter was launched as a side project of Obvious Inc., a lot has changed.

The popular microblogging service is used for a lot of things. Some of them, like the distribution of breaking news and customer service, are more helpful than others, like shameless self-promotion and spam.

BlogHer ’09 reveals the ugly side of social media

Social media can be a great tool but there’s an ugly side. Because of the nature of social media, its commercialization has raised a number of issues around subjects like disclosure and integrity.

The reality is that paying to play is an easy and effective way for brands to get into the social media game. The downsides of this were demonstrated quite well at this year’s BlogHer conference.

Twitter hack: insight into a hot startup that may be losing its edge

When Michael Arrington of TechCrunch decided to publish confidential Twitter corporate documents obtained by a hacker, I wasn’t impressed. It’s a bad decision that’s hard to justify ethically.

But what’s done is done and instead of admonishing him for using a different brand of moral compass, I thought there’d be more value in using the opportunity, no matter how unfortunate, to make some observations about one of the internet’s hottest startups.

When disclosure isn’t enough

Disclosure is a touchy subject when it comes to blogging and digital journalism. Most of the time, the debate is centered on when disclosure is necessary. But what happens when disclosure isn’t enough?

As I was going through my feed reader yesterday, I came across a post on Silicon Alley Insider (SAI) that serves as the perfect example of why a debate about journalistic ethics and standards online can’t be limited to the topic of disclosure.

A treatise on the ethics of search engine optimisation

Search engine optimisation (SEO) and the online marketing sector as a whole may not present the most ethically challenging jobs in the world but it does offer a few moral predicaments.

We may not need to wrestle with thorny moral debates on the nature of
personhood or seek to justify wars, but we are still challenged
regularly by everyday small moral queries, which I suppose is true of
any role.
Here are a few of the routine debates an SEO
executive may encounter. Let me know if you think I have missed any and
we can furrow our respective brows and thrash it out in the comments