Sponsored Posts – Fabulous or Terrible?

Kristy McNamee recently wrote this post about social media in beauty – and it got me thinking. She talked about reading blogs and reviews to research beauty products she was thinking of buying.

Now I don’t know about you, but whenever I read that a product has been ‘gifted for review’, I am immediately less likely to trust the opinion of the writer. I understand their desire to receive some benefit from the undoubted effort required to write a successful blog. Who wouldn’t want to be gifted products that are relevant to their area of interest??

Source: Styling You blog
Source: Styling You blog

But therein lies the problem: are bloggers more likely to give favourable reviews to increase the chances of the bounty continuing? They probably wouldn’t be human if they didn’t. And I wouldn’t expect a company to gift product for review to a blogger that gives negative reviews.

Under Australian Consumer Law, failure to disclose paid endorsements is considered misleading and deceptive conduct, and penalties can be serious. The law is less clear about bloggers disclosing when they have been gifted products by companies, although various stakeholders have pushed for such a requirement ( read more here and here).

Source: My Tornado Alley
Source: My Tornado Alley

I would hope that any ethical blogger would disclose any sponsorship or gifts, and that any company using bloggers would require that they do so. But is this enough?

I wrote at the start of this post about my scepticism regarding sponsored posts – and I suspect this sentiment is growing among consumers as more and more marketers jump on the ‘sponsored post’ bandwagon. So how should marketers respond? With caution!

Here are my suggestions:

  1. Don’t do it to often. Familiarity may well breed contempt in this space. You don’t want to appear desperate!
  2. Choose your bloggers carefully. Up and coming bloggers that may not have been blogging for long, with a rising readership, may be a good target. With luck, at least some of their readers won’t be readers of lots of other blogs, and they might find the idea of a sponsored post intriguing rather than passe. However they are less likely to have a loyal following of readers, who will trust them due to the relationships that the blogger builds.
  3. Make sure that the product aligns with the bloggers area of interest/expertise. No point giving a beauty blogger a vacuum cleaner! Also be as sure as you can be that the review will be positive. Is the product of good quality?
  4. Maybe try to think of a new way of getting your product in front of the target audience. If your product is relatively cheap and can be sampled, what about offering a sample to the first 50 or 100 readers that sign up?

What do you think? Are you automatically suspicious of a sponsored post? Or does it depend on who is posting?

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7 thoughts on “Sponsored Posts – Fabulous or Terrible?

  1. I am quite suspicious of sponsored posts because instagram users with a lot of followers get paid so much money to post a photo of them wearing or using products so its the same for bloggers! But it does depend on who is posting i suppose, but these days any brand or product on any social media or blog site is promotion in my eyes. Unless its coming from friends or family I’m not quick to trust it 100%.

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  2. I feel a little more open to it… Yes being paid to post about things is bias in itself, but the users aren’t in it just for the money… if it was a bad product, they’d get worse reviews, less followers and thus less endorsements.
    It’s about balance, and the messages… It is more important for a brand to use influences to attacked similar minded people that share the same desires as the companies values.

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  3. I agree with you that there is a dilemma, companies will not send products to be reviewed by a blogger who consistently damages their brand. There are obviously other ways for bloggers to get their hands on items to review but surely being gifted or lent items from a company is more convenient.

    It seems the more positive reviews a blogger gives out the more attractive they are to businesses and it is therefore easier and cheaper for them to operate if their reviews are generally positive.

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  4. I suppose that’s my point Andrew, bloggers must be tempted to always post positive reviews so that they are seen as an appropriate target for marketers – that’s why I’m a bit sceptical!

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  5. I always go online to look at reviews before purchasing a product – especially make up. I’m always skeptical when they have a disclaimer saying that they are sponsored, but if they were just sent the product but aren’t being paid then I will often give them the benefit of the doubt. And I agree – smaller bloggers seem to give off a more genuine vibe.

    Liked by 1 person

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