The big boys have gotten the social media bug bad

Like we talked about in the last post, "I love my new (insert brand here)" it appears companies have discovered how

useful garden bloggers are when it comes to getting the word out. Over at Garden Rant they have landed some new advertisers. Both Troy-Built,  the power tool people and Proven Winners, the plant branding people now have ads on the site. What's interesting is both companies use garden bloggers to help get their message out. Troy-Built's ad takes you to their "Measured In Yards, The Lawn and Garden Club".

According to the Troy Built site, "direct from their backyards, these bloggers share their trials, tribulations and triumphs in all things lawn and gardening. Now, they're teaming up with Troy-Bilt® to bring you their best tips and tricks to help make your Saturday in the yard a rewarding one. Let us introduce you to the Saturday Six. In coming months, you will see more from this talented group in The Dirt with how-to videos, sharing favorite lawn and gardening projects, product reviews and giveaways, as well as out and about at local Lowe's® stores."

So these bloggers are going to give us their best tips and tricks to help make my Saturday a "rewarding one". Of course if they really wanted to make this nurseryman's  Saturday a rewarding one they would send customers to their locally owned, independent garden center instead of Lowe's and other box stores. When you visit the bloggers individual sites they of course now sport ads for the "Troy-Built Garden Club" on their sites.

Now in addition to the ad for Troy-Built at Garden Rant, they also sport an ad for Proven Winners. Interestingly enough Proven Winners recently had a event where they had 20 selected garden bloggers flown back to P. Allen Smiths home for an event called Garden2Blog. At this event according to their Facebook page, "P. Allen Smith and his Garden Home Partners gather with 20 garden bloggers for two days of garden tours and workshops." The event was sponsored by a number of companies, including Proven Winners.  We now see Proven Winners ads at many of these same blogs.

At "Jennah's Garden" a garden blogger and member of the Troy Built Team, the author writes, "I’ve reviewed several Troy-Bilt products on the blog before that I got from them through various promotions. I’m the first to admit that it’s a pretty sweet partnership and I love all the products I’ve reviewed for them. And I was SUPER surprised to be invited to be one of the Saturday Six for Troy-Bilt this year.  Gina of  My Skinny Garden gives a very good overview of the dealiyo. But I think this means I am no longer just a garden blogger, but actually a Garden Blogger. (Perhaps I should update my business cards?)"

So here is my question. Do blogs, by sporting ads for companies compromise their objectivity? Did they have any objectivity before? At Jennah's Garden the author lists her creds as, "Troy Bilt’s The Dirt newsletter – July 2010 –Raised Beds and Troy Bilt’s The Dirt newsletter – June(?) 2009 – My First Garden. "

It's tough being a garden blogger writing away in virtual anonymity. When a company offers to buy ad space on your blog it changes everything. Suddenly there is light at the end of the tunnel. A way to make money at something you did before for free. Of course you have to toe the company line. You have to link to other like minded bloggers who also sport the same ads on their blogs. You have to remind people on a regular basis about how much you love mowing your lawn with that "Troy-Built mower bought at Lowe's".

These companies instead of building their own fan base, and speaking to us directly have gone to established garden bloggers to do their work for them. If they get enough of them on board they have the makings of their own network of company mouthpieces who always mention, and link to what the company is promoting.

What do you think about this trend? Am I being too hard on these bloggers and companies? Is this just the way it is going to be when it comes to garden blogging, so get over it Trey? Of course once you get the ads from Troy-Built and Proven Winners on your site other corporations will assume that's where the action is, and soon they will be trying to get these same bloggers to represent them. So for the early adapters it may mean a windfall of advertising coming their way. Time will tell.

For those of us in the locally owned garden center world keep in mind this quote from My Skinny Garden Blog, "and you might see one of us at your local Lowe's this summer providing gardening tips while the Troy-Bilt folks are there teaching customers about their products.  In summary, fun will be had by all!"