How to Use Your Influence Wisely

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It's true, bloggers are influencers. Perhaps more than we think. BlogHer says so, and a new study at Influence Central reveals that

90% of consumers saying that an online review is more important than input from a salesperson. Moreover, after reading an online review and deciding to make a purchase, nearly 80% of consumers buy the product online.

The study doesn't specifically refer to bloggers as a source of online reviews, but as a blogger who does product reviews, and has for 10 years, I know that women seek out reviews of items they're considering buying, and then when they find a trustworthy source, they'll stick with it, and become loyal over time. Online reviews are powerful, and can be a great tool for bloggers to grow their audience as well as monetize, BUT with great power, also comes great responsibility:

Always disclose

Please please please always tell your readers HOW you received any item you are reviewing. It's actually THE LAW. I usually put a disclaimer next to any item I'm wearing and listing in the post, as well as at the bottom of each post. Most of the time, I purchase things myself, or with store credit (which I disclose), but whenever I receive something from a company to review, it's always listed as a “gift for review” whenever I wear it.

Always be truthful

Honesty is always the best policy. If you love something, but it got a hole the first time you wore it, say so. If you thought a company's customer service could have been better, say so. If you love something, and in fact bought multiples, or some to give away as gifts, say so! Speak to your readers as you would your best friends. Would you want them to buy something on your recommendation only to be disappointed later?

Always speak from YOUR voice

This is where I differ from bloggers who take sponsored posts that are already mostly written for them; I couldn't do that, and I think that readers will start to distrust bloggers who use this as a way to monetize too frequently. Readers will only trust you if they can relate to you somehow, and if they feel like they KNOW you in some way. And you will only get there if you're honest with them, and let them into your life a little bit.

Don't always be positive

Point out flaws and things you think could be better about the product. There's no need to tear something completely apart (unless it's warranted), but readers distrust too many “OMG, this is the BEST EVER!” reviews and comments, without some criticisms to balance them out. Be truthful, of course, and if you can't find faults, then, fine, but as you wear or use something more, think about how you might be able to edit your original review to reflect your experience with an item over time. Don't be afraid to go back and say that something wasn't SO great after wearing or washing for a while. Your readers will thank you for it.

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11 Responses

  1. TlvBirdie

    OMG BEST ever reviews usually freak me out!
    I agree with every point of this article, especially the law of disclosing.
    I have a disclosure inside my PR page, but I think I should bring it to my sidebar as well..

    Oly / TLV Birdie Blog
    http://tlvbirdie.com

    Reply
  2. Accidental Icon

    Thanks for the timely post. As a new blogger I am starting to get approached and have been thinking long and hard about all the ethical implications (as well as legal) that go along with as you say, being an influencer. I am starting to get approached by brands and your advice is greatly appreciated.

    Accidental icon
    http://www.accidentalicon.com

    Reply
  3. Yukova Design

    Good tips!

    Thanks!
    this is true, I don’t believe bloggers who always say just Good Stuff about products!
    And another thing annoying its when you know that blogger uses gift from the company and the say like: Oh, you know guys, it’s the best sweater/camera/potato yogurt i ever bought (invested in)
    WTF?

    http://yukovadesign.tumblr.com

    Reply
  4. Gracious Store

    There is no better way to build your blog or gain the trust of your readers than being honest to them, because that is what they expect from you. Write your reviews as honestly and impartially as you can. At the end of the day it will profit both the brand (who hopefully will make improvements as need be based on your honest reviews), and to potential customers who may be looking to buy the product in question

    Reply
  5. Ted

    There’s definately a lot to know about this subject. I really like all the points you made.

    Reply