How I Really Feel: Sex, Money, Mad Men

Posted 8 September, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, musings

Okay, so there’s nothing about sex in this post. That’s unrelated. Also, it sounded good.

So. Ever since Shannon at River City Reading posted her thoughts on Disclosure, Sponsored Content, and Keeping it Real. I’ve been thinking. Actually, I’ve been thinking since I received my first Influenster VoxBox. What I’ve been thinking about is what kind of blogger I want to be.

There are a lot of different feelings that I have wrapped up that go a million different ways. Sponsored posts, bloggers feeling as if they’re owed books by publishers, publishers feeling as if they’re owed reviews by bloggers. I’m not trying to piss anyone off, but invariably when you preface statements that way, you’re about to say something pissy.

In my post on the importance of negative reviews, I talked about the unique voice that book bloggers are gaining within the book world and the importance of maintaining the integrity of our blogs. If we want to continue to expand our credibility and influence as a community, then we must guard our integrity with the utmost care. 

My problem with Influenster and by extension Klout, further extending to Blogging for Books… (and so it goes) is best explained by a scene from the first season of Mad Men. The good ol’ boys advertising club is having difficulty coming up with a decent way to market lipstick, so they “throw it to the hens” and watch their reaction through a one way window. Here’s a quick video to see what I’m talking about.

Unknowingly, for the price of trying out some new shades of lipstick, the women are turned into a focus group to be used by the men (The Man) to better market a product. 
I fully realize my analogy is far from perfect. After all, as bloggers today we are (or should be) aware that what we’re doing is marketing (to some extent) for someone, so to maintain our integrity we must be selective over what we choose to promote. Is a tube of lipstick the price we put on our integrity? 
If we’re being paid to promote something, (which is fine) the only way to maintain our credibility is to fully disclose any endorsements as such. For me this is less about the FTC and more about the good of the community as a whole. The more bloggers that fail to disclose, the less credibility that we as a community have.
The VoxBox. So initially, I thought that Influenster was a pretty bitchin’ program and was super-psyched when I was notified I was getting my first VoxBox. When it came in the mail I had to sit down and have a long hard talk with myself. Was I willing to sell out my readers for a bar of soap, some paltry makeup, and a carton of ice cream? After a few Instagrams and tweets I started to feel a bit icky with myself, not because the products were bad but because I felt no passion for the products. Sure, I loved the new packaging on the soap, but would I have tweeted about it if not for some silly carrot Influenster was dangling? No way. So I quit. My ickiness receded and I felt better. But the lesson has stuck and I refuse to travel down such a road again. 
My blog and all the social media attached to it is not a platform for giant corporations to advertise their products. My time is worth more to me than to spend it writing a post on ice cream that I feel no passion about, just for the possibility of winning a year’s supply. My reader’s time is worth more to me than that. 
This isn’t a mission statement, a manifesto, or even an announcement of any sorts. This is just me, putting out my thoughts on things that have been trickling into our community, things impacting our community, not always in a positive way, things that aren’t going away that I feel the need to address.
Thoughts, dear Reader? Do you agree on anything I’ve said here? How do you feel about sponsored content? I didn’t really get into the issues of bloggers/publishers each feeling like they’re owed something by the other, any thoughts on that?


April @ The Steadfast Reader


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