As a blogger and user of social media I am solicited by many companies who want to pay or send product to endorse their brands. A few years ago, after many people stopped responding to big athletes, celebrities, actors and musicians pushing products, brands started to look at “every day celebrities” as the next big way to cash in on product placements. While in the beginning it seemed very subtle and genuine, now it’s become an over saturated marketing tactic. I don’t think I can scroll down my instagram feed without seeing some person pushing a product that 9 times out of 10 they got paid to “love”. There are so many bloggers and influencers that I myself have been a fan of for quite some time that I have since un-followed, because it is very easy to see when they’ve been paid by a brand to use their stuff – this makes me trust their recommendations less and less.
I get tons of emails asking me if I’d like to test out products, and half the time the company hasn’t even read my blog or looked at my pages. They don’t even care that I’m not a technology blogger or travel writer, they just want more and more people talking about them – even if the person they are soliciting isn’t “on brand” or in their niche. Isn’t the point of marketing to align your product or services with the right audience and demographic? It seems that now brands and companies just want as many people as possible talking about them – no more quality over quantity I suppose. It is more of a “let’s throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” mentality.
As a full time marketing professional I have worked on the brand side of hiring social media influencers and bloggers, and let me tell you, I have always focused more on the folks with great content, high engagement and I could really care less about how many thousands of followers they have. Sure you want to get your message out there to a big audience, but I always wanted my brand to be in front of the RIGHT audience. I didn’t want to “hire” people who one or two posts later are going to promote another brand, or worse yet, my competitor. It seemed like all the bigger influencers had a price, but not a point of view.
I can’t tell you how annoyed I get when I see every skinny tea, waist cincher and tooth whitening instagram post on my feed. I know these people don’t actually LOVE these products, they just get paid to talk about them. I would see a great image from someone I follow, read the extra long caption, and sure enough there it was… “Use my promo code ___” which means they get a cut from every single sale, so of course they are going to tell you it’s absolutely amazing.
I have to admit, I turn down a lot of collaborations, sponsorships and paid endorsements. I don’t use my blog to live off of and I won’t sell myself out to promote products or services I don’t believe in. Many of the products I talk about I found on my own, with my own money and want to share them with you. At the end of the day your blog/website/social channels are your brand – and it’s up to you to stay strong to your beliefs and integrity. If I would’t recommend something to my best friend I am not going to recommend it to anyone.
When will companies learn that just throwing their product at anyone who will post about it is a terrible idea. All it takes is having the wrong person promoting your product to sabotage your great reputation. And when will bloggers and influencers be more selective about who and what they promote on their channels. I guess if all you care about is money then sure, you’ll promote anything, but at the end of the day for me my blog has always been about helping people – not helping my wallet.