In an age where businesses can inflate their popularity by buying Facebook “friends” and Twitter “followers” is it really surprising that companies can buy reviews? The less scrupulous ones pay for a positive review by someone who has never even tried the product or service…but what about blog reviews?
I have never been paid (or at this point even given a product) to review and after this post I doubt anyone will ask me either. I only review things we already picked up for our pets with the intention that they might enjoy them…and perhaps that’s one reason why I am not able to post regularly. It can be time consuming to buy, test, and write a review. So it is really all that surprising that many bloggers (and not just pet ones) accept “jobs” to review products?
Perhaps the bigger question is does it even matter? I would say yes…or at the very least it depends. I have seen requests for bloggers to apply to “review” a number of well known pet products…usually with the promise of compensation. If all they wanted was an honest review of the product then I would say that’s fine. Unfortunately, most companies only want positive reviews (after all they are paying for it)…if you have problems with the product you are expected to inform the company before posting your
glowing honest review…and preferably some social media advertising exposure as well. Many also ask the blogger to host a giveaway of the product a (a great way to boost readership for most bloggers).
So what is a parent parent to do? Well on the bright side US regulations require people to indicate if they have been compensated for their review. I am not aware if similar regulations in Canada for bloggers but most are ethical enough to make a similar statement.
In any case, whether or not someone has been paid for a review it’s important to consider how it is written. For example, do they point out both the positive and negatives of the product or at the very least who the product is most suited for e.g. only for small dogs/light chewers etc? Does the blogger only write positive reviews (who hasn’t encountered at least a few products they haven’t been thrilled with) etc.
With more and more businesses shifting to using less conventional methods of advertising, pet parents need to be aware of these tactics so they can be better informed about who is sharing their opinions on products (and why).