Jumping through hoops, working for free, and deceiving their readers — these are three things it seems like mom bloggers are a little bit less willing to do these days. I must admit, it is a trend I like and one I’d love to see go viral.
A lot of bloggers get multiple e-mails every single day from companies and public relations professionals offering to send them free product if they’ll review it on their blog. Some go for that, some don’t. Some of those brands want just a little bit more. They may want you to host a giveaway of their product on your blog, one that requires people to click through to their website and, for example, comment on which product they like the best. That takes work and may also take money if the company is asking you to ship the product to the winner of the giveaway. Will they pay you to do it? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Mostly no if they can find enough people to do it for free. But then there are companies who ask a whole lot more.
Recently, toy company Melissa and Doug was promoting a “Great Opportunity” for bloggers. In the promotion (captured here by Mommy Niri), they wrote:
If you’re a BLOGGER looking for the opportunity to provide a Melissa & Doug giveaway to your audience – look no further!
If you would help us promote your Sand Play Toys, specifically the 4 items listed below, and suggest that your followers come by our Facebook Page and *Like Us, we can send you a set of these sand toys for your own enjoyment, as well as a giveaway to your audience for every 200 fans you send our way! Just ask your audience to post something on Our Facebook Wall saying that YOUR blog sent them! The giveaway form for the sand toys set will be on your blog.
Two hundred fans? Who not only need to “Like” Melissa and Doug based on your recommendation, but who also need to leave a comment indicating that you sent them? That’s work. A lot of work. More work than a few sand toys are worth. Not just a lot of work, but a lot of social capital to expend in a world where that capital slips away all too easily.
Mommy Niri wrote about the contest on her blog, outlining what was wrong with that particular scenario. Melissa and Doug did end up responding in the comments and indicated that the page was poorly worded (although it was awfully specific for something that was simply poorly worded). They also updated their web page for the contest to simply read that if you wanted to help them promote their Sand Play Toys, you should send them an e-mail.
I wonder if anyone got them 200 likes?
Speaking of likes, there is also a bit of backlash against the “Vote for Me” contests. You know, the ones that make you beg your friends to go back every single day for a month to vote for you? It seems as though some people have realized that these contests are more beneficial to the website that is hosting the contest than the person who is nominated for the award. In her post, On Blogging, Popularity Contests & Why I QUIT!, Katherine Stone from Postpartum Progress wrote:
What good does it do for me to drive friends and family and people I hardly know up the wall so that some other website can get a lot of traffic? What are we doing?! Everyone I know who has to beg for votes is uncomfortable the entire time they are doing it. So why do we do it?
Yes, why? Being on a list based on merit…has merit. Being on a list because you annoyed more of your friends than the next person…not so much merit.
Unless you’re the website that benefited from all the page views and associated ad revenue, in which case “woo hoo!”
Then there are the swank offers to travel across the country, be wined and dined, and be given exclusive access to the inside scoop and high level executives in a company. Once upon a time there were the Nestle Family Bloggers. Invited on an all expenses paid trip to Nestle’s USA headquarters only to be fed a bunch of doublespeak by company executives while receiving flack from anti-Nestle activists on twitter and across the blogosphere. Some people learned that company executives and media relations people do not follow any sort of oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Others didn’t.
But I have to hand it to McDonald’s Canada. Not to be outdone by Nestle, they decided to offer bloggers the opportunity to go on a similar junket. However, in their case, they were offering not just one trip, but four. And, instead of just inviting a group of bloggers they thought would help spread their gospel, they decided they were going to get bloggers to compete for the opportunity to be All-Access Moms. But the opportunity for what? To be deceived by McDonald’s executives, to be shown only what they want to show them, to be fed public relations approved answers to “tough questions”. There is no way that McDonald’s will choose someone who is truly critical of what they are doing. They are going to choose someone who likes McDonald’s, who is popular, and who has a few tough but not really so tough questions they want answered.
The funny thing? Although McDonald’s Canada promoted this contest across the blogosphere and even on television ads, I haven’t seen more than a handful (around four people) who have actually posted anything saying that they entered the competition. Maybe there are many, many, many more that applied secretly and didn’t tell anyone about it, but I have to admit I’m kind of hoping that most moms were smart enough to see that the downside to this offer was likely greater than the upside.
I won’t hold my breath on getting real answers to my questions to McDonald’s via whoever is chosen, because I’ve read their spin before and I doubt it has changed much.
Finally, there are the more plainly and painfully obvious requests for deception. Those e-mails, saying “I would like to place a text ad on your website.” Great. A lot of bloggers do offer text ads and they provide a bit of extra income without taking up too much space. But then in the second e-mail comes the caveat — they want the text link placed discreetly in a blog post without any mention of it being an ad. No disclosure = no go. That’s my policy. That is the law in a lot of places. Yet every day, there are companies e-mailing and asking mom bloggers to deceive their readers and break the law all the time.
Like the spam bots on twitter, I wonder who takes them up on their offer? There must be someone, right? I’m just so glad it is none of you, bad moms. Cause I know you’re smarter than that.
What do you say Bad Moms? Are you ready to be part of the trend that says “we are not your bitches” to the brands out there that want us only for our social capital and that ask us to do unseemly things in return? The very same social capital that will go down the drain if we take them up on offer after offer after offer?
Image credit: cote on flickr