So, SezWho, the company that hopes to be the universal profile service for the social web announced three new partners causing speculation and controversy.
SezWho announced partnerships with Izea, Entrecard, and Creative Weblogging. The three-partner release was a conscious decision in order to show both momentum in partnerships as well as a demonstration of the different integration and service offerings from SezWho.
However, the announcement received some criticism from bloggers like Frederic Lardinois of ReadWriteWeb who thought the multi-part release was a sign of desperation:
In a slew of press releases today, the commenting and profile company SezWho has announced partnerships with social marketing company Izea, blog widget advertising network Entrecard, and blog network Creative Weblogging. SezWho is under a lot of stress from Disqus and Intense Debate and this round of partnerships with relatively small and, in the case of Izea, dodgy companies makes this seem like a somewhat desperate move.
In order to hear SezWho’s side of the story, I spoke with a company rep on the phone this afternoon. Though I didn’t record the conversation, here are the basics of our conversation. Don’t take this as a verbatim account of the call, but I think the account is accurate.
Partner One: Izea
Izea is an inherently controversial partner, as this is the company behind PayPerPost. PayPerPost was almost universally slammed by the blogosphere as the company didn’t require disclosure of advertising content from its bloggers.
So where does SezWho fit in? They’ll be working with Izea’s recently launched SocialSpark, a community focused on connecting advertisers with bloggers willing to write sponsored post. Advertisers looking for bloggers can use the SezWho reputation metric to find bloggers with high reputation rankings within their industry. The Izea integration is different from the CreativeWeblogging partnership, as SezWho will be used as a research tool for advertisers rather than a complete discussion/comment replacement system.
Regardless of how benign and legitimate the partnership between SezWho and Izea may be, the association with PayPerPost appears to be strong. To me, I don’t see a value judgement, as SezWho is simply giving metrics to two parties that have already decided to engage in paid posting. Though I certainly don’t advocate or engage in post-for-pay, I don’t see how SezWho’s integration with SocialSpark can cast a negative light on the company.
Partner Two: Entrecard
Back in April, I was introduced to entrecard at the Web Innovators Group Boston meeting. The idea seemed both simple and effective to me: a free advertising network for bloggers, allowing bloggers to place “ads” on other blogs to trade and increase traffic.
But after trying entrecard I was both disappointed and annoyed. I received a constant stream of “requests” from other bloggers asking for ad placement. That would be fine….if any of them were remotely relevant. The biggest problem with entrecard is the motivation to game the system. Whenever you’re giving people a chance to win free traffic, they’ll go to any length to spam the system. And that’s been my experience with entrecard.
The SezWho/Entrecard integration play gives entrecard users with a SezWho rating of 4 stars or more a reward: more credits to advertise on the entrecard network. The deal makes sense in that entrecard users will have motivation to use SezWho, and in turn, SezWho will gain a new set of highly motivated users.
Partner Three: Creative Weblogging
With Creative Weblogging, SezWho will take over the entire add functionality to the comment system for the creative weblogging network. Think of it like blogspot. When you have a blog there, you can use your blogger ID to comment on any blogger-hosted blog. Same deal here.
Given the fact that the comment system/universal reputation profile space is both crowded (with competitors such as disqus and IntenseDebate) and confusing, I think SezWho’s announcement is a good move. They’re showing partner momentum, they’re showing they have flexibility in integration, and they’re showing users that they’re out there creating new value for participating in the SezWho network.
Over the next few weeks and months, it will be very interesting to see who SezWho will partner with next. It will be equally interesting to see what their competitors do.
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