Sunday, April 28, 2013

Thanks John! You tha man!!! :)

Link to John Hayes' article  in Kuwait Times on Kuwait Bloggers (including lil ole me).

Credibility. Blogger. Combining the two words produces a person who has the power to influence beliefs and actions. For example, commercial bloggers (as opposed to hobbyists) write, “Gadget A is better than Gadget B” and “Buy these brownies – they’re yummy!” Consumers believe the bloggers, until they lose credibility. Loss of credibility doesn’t mean the bloggers lose their audience, but they do lose the power to influence, and some lose respect. Every year my students study the Kuwait blogosphere, and every year they bemoan blogger credibility. “Bloggers just want money,” a group of students reported. “They’re not interested in serving the readers.”

KD 400 to post!
Once the readers turn on a blogger, advertisers are not far behind. In response to my previous columns about Kuwait blogging, a Kuwaiti businessman told me about his distasteful experience with a blogger. “We invited him to our business and afterwards he told us he would post an article for KD 400. That didn’t feel honest to us.

If we wanted to buy an advertisement we would have done so. We didn’t want to pay him just to say good things about our business.” Some savvy bloggers have figured out how to get the best of all worlds: serve the readers, earn money, and keep credibility and respect. To wit, Heather Armstrong was a young and financially struggling Salt Lake City mom when she started writing about her kids, her husband, her pets, her depression, her liberal views, etc., in a blog called (for which she was eventually fired from her full-time job).
Today her site nets nearly 1-million monthly visitors, and she earns more than $50,000 a month. At one point she was the only female blogger on Forbes’ list of the Most Influential Women in Media. Does she write about gadgets and brownies? Sometimes. And when she’s paid to do so, she says so. “Kuwait bloggers don’t have to tell us they get paid to write their ‘awesome’ reviews,” a student told my class. “We already know that.” Even so, credible bloggers divulge that information, including how much money they received for a review. I’m in favor of paid reviews, or what’s called an “advertorial,” meaning a combination of advertising and editorial. But why not call it what it is?

Who are the bloggers?
Curiously, many Kuwait bloggers not only hide their review policies, but their identity, too, and yet their identities are widely known. Otherwise, how would all those invitations, not to mention the yummy brownies and cash payments, mysteriously appear at their doors? Most bloggers have full-time jobs, most blog for the fun of it, and many have explained to me that they don’t want their coworkers to know who they are (understandable) and they don’t want the government to know, either (and yet, if my students know who they are, how difficult would it be for the government to know, too?). Of course, the bloggers know the bloggers because they show up together for events closed to the public. I’m in favor of that, too. It helps cultivate a blogger’s community, which in turn could help improve the credibility of blogs in Kuwait.
By the way, if credibility continues to decline, the day will come when the blogs are as popular as textbooks. In spite of my critical eye (or perhaps because of it), I admire the Kuwait blogosphere, and my daily routine, in and out of the country, includes reading newspapers and selective blogs. I rely on both media for information and entertainment, and often as a source for lectures. The late American speaker Charlie “Tremendous” Jones used to say, “Five years from now you will be the same person you are today except for the books your read and the people you meet.” I agree, but nowadays I’d throw bloggers into that mix.

Bloggers enrich our lives
My life in Kuwait is more satisfying because of bloggers. For example, Mark at 248am taught me about the virtual private network (I hope the government doesn’t mind that I use VPN). I laugh every time I read a Desert Girl experience – she’s hilarious and could be a novelist. Melwyn at Expat Voices writes well and for all I know may be a journalist. His & Hers – “the bird who fell in love with a fish” – posts thoughtful observations. The Grapevine tells me what’s happening in Kuwait. 7aji Dude brings three different perspectives to the local blogosphere, sometimes with too many photos, but they often write objectively.
Kuwait Music is serious, quality reporting. Kuwaitiful keeps posts short, to the point and easy to read. Expat and the City posts offbeat international updates and includes a Reviews link where she explains her policies (good for her!). I could go on, but you get the idea. It’s worth reading Kuwait blogs, although you have to be selective, and you must read between the lines when you read the reviews. “People have this impression that blogs are all about making money. It doesn’t have to be that way,” said Blogger Mathai. Well, truly, it isn’t that way.

Most bloggers in Kuwait do not make money (more could if they understood how). “Blogging is satisfaction,” claimed the blogger at Magic Hands. Bingo! It is satisfaction for bloggers, a large number of readers, and some advertisers. I can only hope that bloggers will protect their credibility, and that one day I can join the Kuwait blogosphere. When I do, I won’t mind receiving those “yummy” brownies, and you can be sure I’ll tell you exactly what I think, good or bad. By the way, my wife makes the world’s best brownies, and she doesn’t pay me to say so.

Dr. John P. Hayes teaches online marketing at GUST. Contact Dr. Hayes at questions@hayesworldwide. com, or via Twitter @drjohnhayes. Note: No blogger paid for this column!
By John P Hayes


I met John and his very lovely wife when they first arrived to Kuwait several years ago (gosh - how many has it been??).  I've enjoyed his articles ever since.  I regularly receive random questions and it becomes a challenge for me to find answers.  John posed one of the most interesting questions:  Where can I find a piano in Kuwait?  I had some ideas, but ultimately, John found his own piano.  I later went to hear his wife play at a local hotel; she played out of joy, not for the return of a big paycheck.  It was lovely.  They are lovely.  I feel blessed to know them both and for being allowed to read John's unique perspective of Kuwait - and his perspective of us as a group of bloggers.  Thank you, John, for your continued friendship and for your wonderful positive energy.

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