SocialChorus, an "advocate marketing" firm working on behalf of Microsoft, has been offering to pay bloggers for promoting Internet Explorer. The campaign was exposed after popular blogger and Twitter designer Paul Stamatiou, who also contributes to TechCrunch as a guest writer, was approached by the company to write a paid piece.
Today Microsoft offered to pay me to blog about Internet Explorer. There's not enough bitcoin in the world..— Paul Stamatiou (@Stammy) June 17, 2014
Besides Stamatiou, TechCrunch founder and former editor Michael Arrington also received the offer through an email.
“In this program, we are looking to spread the word about the new Internet Explorer web experience in a cool, visual way, which is where you come in”, it read, adding that if Arrington accepts the invitation to work on the program, he'll have to come up with a blog post by July 10, for which he'll be paid.
Arrington responded to the email asking, “Is this for real?”. The vendor then apologized and said they weren’t sure how they got on the email list, and ended the message with “Go TechCrunch!”.
Of course, sponsored posts are not unusual, and any reputable site that do accepts them will clearly disclose it as such and make sure its a good fit for the audience. The particulars of SocialChorus' campaign are unknown.
A quick look at the marketer's website reveals that Microsoft's Bing team is, or at least has been, one of its customers. Microsoft officials, on the other hand, are distancing themselves from the campaign.
When reached out for a comment, a Microsoft spokesperson said the "action by a vendor is not representative of the way Microsoft works with bloggers or other members of the media". Since then, the program has been suspended.
SocialChorus' poor execution certainly backfired, harming Microsoft more than doing IE any good. A quick search for the #IEBloggers hashtag on Twitter reveals the hilarious -- if unintended -- results.
Internet explorer stole my car and tortured my dog. #iebloggers— Maxwell Lamb (@Panopticrat) June 18, 2014