As such So Loverly has removed all Nuffnang ads and will be forfeiting the money we have made on it in protest against such treatment.
This really isn't about the amounts of money we've made. It's entirely possible that if So Loverly had stooped to slightly less ethical blogging practices we could have made considerably more. Here are our reasons, based on my personal experience as a professional journalist, backed by my co-bloggers:
1. Nuffnang inherently disrespects the blogging community. By attempting to run competitions instead of campaigns - pitting one blogger against another and by attempting to ban bloggers from dealing with other social media advertisers, Nuffnang is ignoring the media's inherent value. The truth is Nuffnang would not exist without bloggers whereas we'd happily go on blogging without them.. They need to learn their place.
2. Nuffnang attempts to monopolise bloggers. Recently, Nuffnang created their "Glitterati Plus" group. To belong to it bloggers must, among other things, attend about 50% of all Nuffnang events and attend and post exclusively on Nuffnang events and advertisers. This is ridiculously deluded. The onus is on Nuffnang to create events and campaigns so compelling that bloggers WANT to be at their events. This is how the media is supposed to work. Please don't let them continue with this delusion.
3. Nuffnang dangles events as prizes and payment. Media events are money-making for the organisers and provide the sponsor with publicity. Dangling it as a prize or payment is like awarding work for work. How ridiculous is that? If I win the event as a prize I should not have to blog about it. Instead they are making money both ways. They run competitions and get paid, award an event they are presumably PAID to organise as a prize, and then reap the benefits of bloggers blogging about the event. Also, competitions pay them better than campaigns as not all participants are compensated.
4. Nuffnang assumes all Malaysian bloggers are ignorant and teenagers. Not only by the practices listed above but the promotional ideas they forward. For example, the Vaseline "Are You Moist Enough?" blogger competition which had bloggers writing "the best post" answering if they were "moist enough". Who thought this up? A bunch of horny teenagers? Not to mention the ridiculous prize - the Vaseline Are You Moist Enough Party (after which, Nuffnang tweeted that "all ther staffs are moist" [sic]). Frankly, it's the job of professional media to attend these things and we're paid to do so - it certainly isn't doled out as a "prize".
5. Nuffnang treats foreign bloggers with more respect. If you read online, they treat Australian bloggers with considerably more respect than local ones which, when you consider that Nuffnang is Malaysian, is a crying shame.
6. Nuffnang is advertorial heavy. Advertorials are really not what blogs are about. Being paid to say something is good undermines the value of blogs as word-of-mouth opinion. If So Loverly ever accepted money to say a product was good, when we didn't think so, would you ever trust us again? So Loverly has never accepted money, products or services to voice an opinion we didn't believe. Giving us a free product or service to try merely gives us the chance to try something we might not have otherwise and will usually guarantee an HONEST review. (Edited from "Nuffnang wants us to lie to you" as I felt that was more sensationalist than fair. I don't think advertorials are ethically wrong if disclosed. I do feel they are a strategic mistake however).
These statements are opinion and perhaps not fact. But I have tried to be fair and balanced in my evaluation of this social media advertising service. Do read it through and make your own decision.
So how should companies and agencies deal with bloggers? Here are 10 pieces of advice on handling Bloggers for brands, PR and media agencies:
1. Treat us with the same respect you treat professional / mainstream media.
2. If you want us to write about an event, make the event worth writing about. Believe me, we enjoy what we do or we wouldn't be doing it so when something great happens, we're bursting to share. Make something great happen.
3. Freebies and review products are not the same thing. A free gift is a GIFT and I am entitled to do whatever I wish with it. A product for review however, if accepted, promises a review after a full and fair evaluation of the product. (edit: That means giving us enough time to test the product)
4. If you want a review written in any particular fashion disclose it first before sending the product for the blogger to accept or reject.
5. Why are bad reviews good for you? Because not only is it valuable market data, it prevents girls who the product would not work for from trying it and thus damaging your brand image with them. The girls on So Loverly, and many beauty bloggers disclose our skintypes for a reason. And if a product fails to work for us we try to discern why and recommend it for other skintypes. Your brand value will actually strengthen with honest and fair reviews.
6. Be honest and don't attempt to use us.
7. Choose your blogs wisely. I am the last to say that all blogs are created equal. Each one is unique and appeals to different demographics. Read a few posts to learn if this is the blog for you.
8. Don't expect miracles. Getting your product or service reviewed by us is like having someone tell a thousand friends about a personal experience. Whether they trust us or not entirely depends on the individual. We're not a silver bullet.
9. Please don't treat us like we're idiots or children. All the bloggers on So Loverly are highly educated professionals. Same goes for the circle of beauty bloggers we hang out with. Dangling a goody bag as a prize for a review, asking us to stick products down our cleavage, or assuming we don't know basic chemistry or dermatology is insulting.
10. Be human. Social media is about people. Bloggers are people, our readers are people and this is your chance as a brand to also be a person. Don't waste this chance by attempting to be a faceless product. Talk to us and then listen.
I will be happy to talk to anyone about the opinions voiced here. Do leave a comment or send us an email!
Edit (05/11/2010): So how should marketing on blogs be done? Read this post for examples.