What is Your Reputation Worth?

There has been plenty of debate around Snakes on a Plane and the way it was picked up by bloggers. There has been a lot of discussion about how this has changed the game, or represents a significant shift in the nature of marketing. But it was this post over at MarketingProfs that really got me thinking about the way that the blogging community got behind the movie. Gerry McGovern asks us to consider what is free, and what is the hidden cost of "free" on the web, and as he says:

Free is a funny word. We all know that very little is really for free. If we go searching on the Web for free music and free screensavers, we know-or should know-that there are risks involved.

But what are the risks that we, as marketers take, when we get behind something like a movie that we have never seen? Are we taking Seth’s work in vain? Don’t we owe it to ourselves and our reputations to make sure that the product we get behind is, in fact, one of the famous Purple Cows? And if it is NOT purple, shouldn’t we check that it is a cow, and not some other barnyard animal?

Mack Collier has an interesting post that shows (again) how many traditional marketers don’t understand social networking and blogs. Through some traffic stats detective work he tracks down a newsletter linking to his site, and finds the newsletter exhorting readers to hire "unpaid interns" to produce some "low cost marketing" — ie blogs. Please check out the full post if you have not already.

But there is a greater problem here. I agree with Todd over at Advertising Ourselves to Death … the job of the citizen marketer is to "call bullshit when companies try to blow sunshine up the collective skirts of consumers". But we missed the boat on many counts. There were A-list through to Z-listers jumping on the Snakes bandwagon, lapping up some traffic, some referrals and a bit of the limelight. The product that we bought was the MARKETING, not the movie. The movie marketers, with all their finely honed skills persuaded, cajoled and seduced us.

So while it is easy to call this a win for Marketing 2.0, I call it the other way — a big win for Marketing 1.0. What is your reputation worth?  Maybe that isn’t the right question — perhaps it should be "What is the trust between me and my audience worth?".