Question: How do you know if a blogger doesn't like something he/she got for free?
Answer: Because he/she didn't review it.
Question: How do you know whether they didn't review it because they never saw one before OR if it's because this thing is trash you shouldn't waste your money on?
Answer: That's the rub, isn't it.
I was recently invited to be part of a VIP group of Mom bloggers affiliated with a larger blog. One of the perks of membership would be the opportunity to get free stuff to review. Hey, who doesn't like free stuff!
But then the leader emphasized that this blog does NOT do negative reviews. I have heard this before from many bloggers. And it rubs me the wrong way.
Maybe it's the term review. Maybe it should be called, as Husband said, I got something for free and here's my blog about it.
Because when you look at the concept of review, it's that you, as a member of the target audience for said product, tried it out and now have opinions to share. So when I read on your blog that you like EVERYTHING that you have EVER SEEN. You start to seem disingenuous to me.
But others think that's part of the deal. Company provides Product and Blogger writes sing-songy post. Blogger gets paid and/or swag. Company gets testimonial. That's the social (and sometimes very formal) contract.
So I guess that seeing blog after blog of favorable reviews tells you something to the affirmative about a product. But what about the bad products. How do you learn about them?
Last week I tried six different Target stores looking for a Disney Princess digital camera. When I posted on Facebook that I was desperately trying to find one, several people who had bought similar cameras warned that you get what you pay for and that they had a terrible experience.
Then I started looking for product reviews online. I finally found reviews of the Cars version of the same camera--and people hated it. And you know where those reviews came from. People who had already wasted their money. Judging by the scarcity of the Princess camera, it doesn't matter if it's any good or not. By the time people open these things in a month and think to write a review--Target will already have gotten their money!
My point in all this is that there are some really great-looking things for kids, for the home, for women--that suck. But we'll never know it by reading blogs. And come on, let's face it, even the very worst products can get some favorable reviews, if the price is right.
There are some blogs that are sunny all the time. They never have a gripe with anyone. Others, don't mind taking a shot at a product that they've tried on their own--but not ones where they've accepted payment.
I don't do many reviews. But I always write what I want and many times I'm sure that I gave their marketing people something a little outside of what was expected--but no one has ever complained.
See some examples:
So what if I got something that was really a clunker, that I thought I would love (and I haven't yet). Would I do a negative review, a mixed review? Call and politely decline? I really think I would want to warn people not to waste their money.
I have been wavering on my personal policy, even as I have drafted this, but I think I have it clear now: I will review things that fit with my life and my family that I anticipate that I will like. If it turns out that I don't like a product, I will be honest but not cruel.
I think this fits my personality and sense of direction for this blog. Back to the camera example, it would fit my criteria for something I would anticipate liking, but may have disappointed me in the end.
If you blog, what's YOUR policy? If you don't blog, did you realize that many blogs have positive-only policies?