It’s important that when you decide to blog, you do so because you have passion and your goals in mind. Like I said before, if you choose to become a blogger or an influencer just for the fame or the fortune, you should rethink your whole purpose of blogging. Making money from blogging is certainly not easy. It will take a lot of time and dedication before you gain the reach and audience that will enable you to approach companies and ask for sponsorships. When you do, it is extremely fulfilling! But, as that Spider-man movie goes, with great power comes great responsibility. This is where blogging integrity comes in.
Being a blogger with reach and influence means holding yourself towards a certain standards of ethics. You need to start being careful about your reputation, because it’s this and your integrity as a blogger that makes you appealing to your readers and your partners. Unfortunately, some people who rise to the top forget this.
Does it matter to maintain blogging integrity? In a word, yes. People have to know whether they can trust you or not. If they can’t, you’ll lose your base. Blogging integrity is a pretty gray area to talk about, but if you want to be at the top of your game and stay there for a long time, it would be a good idea to pay attention.
Here are some of the kinds of influencers you should not aim to be—and learn from their mistakes.
Influencers that are not honest about their endorsements.
The reason many people turn to blogs and influencers is they believe they are authentic. When a blogger reviews a brand, people expect to get honest opinions about it. If a product sucks, people want to know it sucks so that they save their money and invest in better ones. However, it is not uncommon for unsure bloggers to give rave reviews to products they don’t believe in. Have you ever encountered a blogger or Youtuber who consistently gives glowing reviews to products they got to sample, only to find out that it is absolute trash when you get to test it out yourself?
It’s easy for influencers to cop out when free samples are involved. After all, it is one of the perks of the business that they get to enjoy. However, not being consistently honest about reviews causes many problems. Not only do you plant doubt with your followers, you also don’t give the company valuable feedback that they can use to improve their products and services.
The problem becomes worse when bloggers don’t disclose that they have received stuff for free. A 10-minute makeup tutorial suddenly becomes a 10-minute trying too hard advertisement that seems really shady. Not cool.
Influencers that have questionable guidelines on using other’s content.
Social media is such a public space. Content is being churned out each minute, from important news articles to mundane tweets. Recently, an influencer came under fire for unethical content curation guidelines. The local page Filipino Tweets That Matter (FTTM) was deactivated for a short time following public outrage from Filipino tweeps.
FTTM is a Facebook page launched in January 2017 that curated viral, or potentially viral tweets from Filipino Twitter users. They eventually expanded to Instagram and Twitter. Admins of the page would take screenshots of the tweets, add on a template that bore their logo and brand username, and post it on their social media pages. It was understood, according to their guidelines, that tweets were collected from people who actually wanted to send them in. Because of the quality of funny and relatable posts they had, they amassed 1.6 million Facebook followers in just six months. Crazy, right? So what went wrong?
70K for 30 tweets? HAHA NO THANKS FAM. pic.twitter.com/LdMgfBrXUZ
— I HATE EVERYONE (@BigBadBottom) June 19, 2017
The problem started when many tweeps noticed that FTTM was now doing sponsored posts in partnership with some big brands. Sponsored posts with brands means that the page was now making money—but from content that was not completely theirs. The drama came to a peak when more tweeps chimed in on the issue of FTTM profiting off content that they didn’t create, and pointing out that some of the content they posted were without permission.
Grossed out that FTTM now profits off OUR content, many times even without consent. I urge you all to stop sharing their posts. Tama na. pic.twitter.com/TKeCbWPv3i
— Nathania Chua (@PilosopoTanya) June 19, 2017
Remember this: as an influencer, you are only as good as your content. You could have tons of followers but really shitty content–like all those pages grabbing videos and memes from other sources without providing credit.
So what happened to FTTM, a page that essentially survived on the content of others? They reactivated their accounts and released an official statement bearing responsibility for their “opportunistic tactics.”
FTTM promised a revamped page and revised policies, wherein the money earned from content sponsorships would help charitable causes as a show of support for the community. Live and learn, kids!
Influencers that don’t keep quality in mind.
While every influencer wants to have a huge following someday, the road to getting there is paved with quality. This doesn’t apply just on their online activities, but it also applies to offline activities too. Let me give you an example.
Michelle Phan is easily one of the most famous influencers in the world at the moment. Her career has been so successful yet so wild that she had to shy from the limelight for a while. Back when Michelle was just getting really popular, she launched a skincare line called Iqqu which essentially failed. She claimed that it was FDA-approved, when it was not. Many people who bought it hated it and even complained of skin sensitivity problems.
Years after Iqqu, Michelle worked with L’Oreal for Em Cosmetics. This was a much hyped launch at the time, because of the awe of a Youtuber getting her own makeup line, as well as L’Oreal trying to tap a younger market through Michelle. Unfortunately, the makeup was not well-reviewed either. Customers complained of poor quality that didn’t add up to its hefty price tag. Michelle’s mistake was not being more stringent on the quality of the products she attached her name to. After all, as their beauty guru, people expected her to come up with something that would address all the problems other products had.
Not focusing on quality also extends to content. It takes time to produce blog posts that are well-researched, with good photos and/or videos. When a top blogger suddenly starts copying PR material and pasting it word for word on his/her website, they can lose followers. If a vlogger doesn’t take time to edit video well enough to be able to tell a story, they lose viewers.
I will repeat this: as an influencer, you are as good as your content. There are hundreds of people out there who can produce the same content as you, if not better. If you truly want to show your passion by being a blogger, make sure you are prepared to give 100%.
As you go along and take each step to becoming a top-notch influencer, keep in mind that all of what you do will boil down to trust between you and your followers. If you are not trustworthy, all your hard work will be for nothing.
Have more questions? Check out my other articles for great tips on helping you become a top-notch influencer!