Beware: All Advice is Not Created Equal

Blogs have become a recognized resource for information. In fact, some bloggers have achieved the same level of notoriety that writers of previous eras achieved. However, just as with journalistic bias, it pays to ensure you understand the bias of the writer of your favorite blog, especially when it comes to guidance for your business.

Remember, for the most part, you are getting the advice is free, which means either the writer is getting payment in some other way or they are being paid to offer their opinion. What looks like free advice isn’t always free, at least not in the way you might think it is.

For example, I am paid to write the posts I produce for Small Business Bonfire, not by a company but by the publisher. That arrangement keeps us all honest. I don’t need to shill for a company or brand here to earn my keep. I can offer unbiased opinions for the readers of Small Business Bonfire, hopefully ones of value.

However, with a little digging you can find that those who appear to be championing a particular platform, brand, strategy or tool have skin in the game. The FCC requires that monetary compensation is disclosed. However, as bloggers and brands know this, they find ways around it.

Here’s an example. Having a blogger speak at an event and state that your platform is the one people should use is of great benefit to a software company, so picking up the airfare and hotel for the blogger seems like a good investment. Inviting that same blogger to an event where they get to preview features seems like a no-brainer for the company.

However, all this goes on behind closed doors. For the most part the audience is ignorant of the fact, they simply see someone making a case for a tool, platform, brand etc. and take the advice at face value.

My advice is simple, do a little digging, find out who is paying to keep the lights on before you swallow the advice whole-heartedly and start to change your marketing or other business decisions based on it. Better yet, use multiple sources and find differing opinions. Then find the use-case that actually fits your business model. Don’t simply follow the sheep just because a guru tells you to.

Image credit: ugaldew

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Simon Salt
Simon is CEO of IncSlingers, and is an author, blogger, writer and entrepreneur. His book on Social Location Marketing was published by QUE, a division of Pearson publications in February 2011. Simon has been published online by Mashable, Read Write Web and others.
  1. This is where a collaborative community of entrepreneurs comes in handy. I am fortunate to be part of such. I had to pay to join, but the connections and perspectives gleaned from other small businesspeople are invaluable.

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