With the rise of digital media and subsequent growth in e-commerce opportunities, blogs have become a sweet spot for marketers looking to disguise a sales pitch in a personal recommendation or review posted by the so-called average consumer. There is no denying that bloggers are very much the key influencers, as marketers – be they manufacturers, retailers or restaurants brands – have been quick to appreciate.
For bloggers however, is integrity being compromised? Are they running a risk of converting their posts into advertorials and their pictures into billboards?
I would say that honest reviews are absolutely not a thing of the past – but there is a markedly increased commercial aspect to blogs and vlogs which has changed perception I think. Viewers need to work a little harder to get to know their vloggers and bloggers, and who they feel they can trust – like any industry there are rogue players out there but they’re few and far between.
I can only speak from my own experience – I take sponsored activity on my blog, but will only work with brands that I feel I am not compromising my integrity with. I turn down some commercial ventures on the grounds that I really wouldn’t recommend the product. And you can’t buy me to say that I do – it’s really that simple! Readers are very savvy – they’d know in a flash – but they’re also understanding and respectful of the fact that pro-bloggers do need to earn money. A wise blogger chooses brands to work with very carefully indeed, and over exposure across too many brands lessens the credibility, so it’s a fine line. The last thing you ever want to do as a blogger is insult your reader’s intelligence.
Less commercial, established blogs do tend to stick to their guns about being completely forthright in their reviews which doesn’t make them the easiest bloggers for brands to work with. But you can guarantee that their readers will respect their views far more, and be more reactive to them, which pays dividends in the long term to the brands.
Nobody knew how the blogosphere would blossom – there are literally millions of beauty blogs out there now. Newer bloggers try very hard to get engagement and I think they can feel compromised when they’re not used to dealing with brands or PRs – they do worry about upsetting them or that a negative review means that the brand won’t want to work with them going forward. I know a lot of bloggers give a negative review by ommision – if it’s not great, or they haven’t enjoyed using it, they just won’t mention it. That means that readers are really getting to know about the products that bloggers do actively enjoy, and that can be a good compromise I think.