First internet and nowadays varying outlets of social media changed how we [mothers] make our decisions. I don't want to dwell on how internet changed our decision processes or our lives for that matter, but I want to talk about social media a little bit.
Social media has become a tool for us consumers to be influenced by others. "Others" call themselves influencers. Their most powerful tools to influence us are blogs and twitter, to name just two. We read influencers' blogs and follow their tweets because we relate to them. They are moms, too. Most of the time stay-at-home ones, trying to be frugal, juggling more than one kid at a time. The influencers regularly bring us product endorsements and product reviews on blogs and on twitter. Let's start with product endorsements.
I am constantly seeing tweets like "I'm having [X brand] lasagna tonight" or "I tweet from [Y brand of notebook]." There is no indication of being sponsored or not. Thousands of followers receive this tweet. The problem is: when we watch a commercial on TV, we know it's brought to us by the manufacturers, the brand. And we know it's not objective. It's a candy-coated, a catchy jingle inserted piece of portrayal of our could-be experience with the product/service. When it comes to tweets, the line between objectivity-subjectivity becomes totally unclear. We know these bloggers/tweeters take samples from companies to try new products and services and blog about it. But when they tweet about a brand or service, should we assume that they are objective? Is the tweet an expression of their mom/consumer advocate personas to which we relate? Or is this just a tweet that they are paid for and are not open about it. If this is true, aren't some influencers deceiving us?
What about product reviews? Companies send lots and lots of product samples to influencers. Their objective is, of course, get good reviews published on blogs and positive tweets to reach thousands of precisely targeted audience. Some bloggers say [please READ this article on New York Times] if they don't like the product they don't blog about it. Why? Does this sound fair to you? She doesn't blog about a product that I can purchase and don't like. She does not want to severe ties with her benefactors yet she foresakes my trust in her. She does not share her true experience about the product, which I expect her to do. But I understand influencers objective is to make me buy the products, even if they don't like it and they don't thoroughly review it. Read on...
Couple months back, I am reading review blog. This blogger had been asked to review [let's say] a drink, which she openly admits finding disgusting. She also admits [let's say] because of sharing the product sample with too many samplers, she only has a few sips. The conclusion, she might actually like the product, and it's great! Does this sound right and fair?
Certainly I acknowledge that not all the bloggers are "ethically challenged," but some are and I'm writing about them.
I think this article outlines my principles on product endorsements and reviews. I can and will review any kind of product that is of use and relevance to me and people like me: moms, mid-20-30 young women, etc... But the essential principle of this blog will be openness and honesty.
Next post: Maxi-Cosi Mico car seat review, and how a product can make you want to turn back in time.
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