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Social Media 101: Tactics and Tips to DevelopYour Business Online by Chris Brogan

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Chapter 48. Who Is Secretly Pitching You?

Kare Anderson of Say it Better[185] pointed out this piece of fiction to me from The New Yorker magazine: "Raj, Bohemian"[186] is about a guy getting the distinct feeling that everyone around him has fallen into an endless cycle of promoting things. It gets to be a little much when he realizes that some of the people in his circle do this for a living, as a way of spreading the word about their clients' products and services. It's word-of-mouth marketing gone stealth. It makes me wonder about our online communities and the notion of reputation—so much so that Julien Smith and I wrote a book, Trust Agents, about this very thing. Here are some thoughts from a year or so before we wrote the book, to give you a sense of how we seeded those ideas.

The Internet is perfect for this kind of thing. We don't even have to see our face-to-face friends. Our new social network friends can tell us plenty about products without telling us whether they're being paid to talk about them. Should we be critical? Should we see advertisers under every stone?

STEALTH PITCHING AND COMMUNITIES

People are more wired than ever before. It's really easy to find holes in information, simple to fact-check a little bit. To that end, companies that are willing to risk their community's trust by pitching in a stealthy way are taking chances with their brand. Every time we see a "Wal-Marting Across America" blog,[187] it sticks with us. Sometimes, we change our behavior as consumers ...

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