I read, this morning, in the Lincoln Journal Star (which is a very well put-together newspaper, albeit a bit too right-winged for me) that the Federal Trade Commission is beginning to monitor blog sites for ‘false claims or failure to disclose conflicts of interest.’
In other words, there are bloggers out there who, for a lack of better term, are shills for companies and products they don’t necessarily support without a (rubbing of fingers against thumb) little monetary coercion.
It seems that when people search the web for reviews of products or services, the primary place they look is Good Ol’ Uncle Joe and Aunt Ethel’s blog. They (the searchers) believe they are reading an honest to gosh opinion on things from toasters to real estate to mega corporations and beyond by someone who has truly tried these things. But, in fact, they are reading what the bloggers are paid to blog, and payments range from monetary reimbursements, gifts, and all expense paid European trips.
I was quite taken aback. If I had known there was a profit to be made by endorsing a product or company in my blog, I would be a hundredaire by now. But if I’d received kickbacks for complaints about certain products or companies, I definitely would be a thousandaire by now. I might even had the opportunity to enjoy an all expense paid trip to Melbeta, Nebraska.
Let me just throw a hypothetic at you.
Suppose I extolled the virtues of Verizon Wireless cell phone service, which is the carrier I use for my phone service. Excellent reception, coverage, and price plans for just about anyone, anywhere. There, I endorsed them. Ka-CHING! But when it comes to being employed by the same company, there wouldn’t be enough time or room to write about the horrors of micro-management and discrimination against older employees. Negative Ka-CHING!
I own a Saturn car. It has a great, reliable engine. Endorsement, Ka-CHING! But it’s about as comfortable a ride as a stick horse, the interior is hard plastic, screaming CHEAP-O! Negative Ka-CHING!
WalMart. Great place to shop if you need an assortment of items from khakis to kiwis. For the most part, the prices are low and the selections of items are numerous. Shopping at Walmart saves you the time and tedious expense of making several stops elsewhere for the same items. Endorsement, Ka-CHING! But having to maneuver through crowded aisles blocked by gargantuan, polyester-clad, scooter-riding cretins, having to wait in line at one of two open registers (out of 20 available but idle registers), and risking life and limb to find a parking spot? Negative Ka-CHING!
Payless Shoe Stores…great prices, great variety for all members of the family. Endorsement, Ka-CHING! But the only way a normal person can comfortably wear Payless shoes is if they never have to walk in them. Negative Ka-CHING!
Kentucky Fried Chicken. Crispy, crunchy, flavorful chicken, great for a family get together or an easy-out for a quick dinner. Endorsement Ka-CHING! Everything else, including the fountain drinks, tastes like Kentucky Fried Styrofoam. Negative Ka-CHING!
My point is this: Leave the advertisements and endorsements to the big guys who get paid Big KA-CHING to sway consumers to purchasing products. Anyone else who accepts any sort of compensation for endorsing a product or company they have not personally used or shopped at are no different that a streetwalker standing outside Walmart in her Payless shoes, eating KFC while waiting for her next john to drive up in a Saturn.