August 05, 2013

fake fans

If you are intrigued by the world of social media, it's pretty hard not to be in a generation obsessed with the internet, you will have probably watched tonight's Dispatches programme; Celebs, Brands and Fake Fans. I started off by just rolling my eyes and sighing as companies were being revealed to be spending money on fake Twitter followers and Facebook 'likes', but then I started to become more and more irritated at how sleazy social media agencies are building names for themselves by creating fake fans for brands. 

The second part of the programme which outed Z-list blagger 'celebrities' for being paid to endorse brands via tweets annoyed me the most, it's bizarre to me as to why they would want to be used as a human billboard for a relatively small sum of money. Not only that but how they would turn up to events that were specifically set up for them to be given freebies in return for tweets, surely you'd expect better behaviour from a well paid actress. It's all very well for them to thank a brand publicly for giving them a 'gift' but when it becomes a regular practice all I see is a very greedy person exploiting their minor celebrity status for petty money and freebies. 

This is where I realised a huge difference between 'celebrities' and bloggers like myself. For the most part brands send products to bloggers for a possible feature or a possible review, whereas it seems common practice with a select few celebrities that brands can expect a photo of them endorsing the product or tweeting about it before they have even got home to try it out. Plus let's say for example a 'celebrity' has 40k Twitter followers, those followers don't instantly translate into people who trust their opinion and value what they have to say. Whereas a blogger who has 4k loyal followers who look to them for fashion and beauty ideas are far more likely to care if they recommend a product, meaning they have more influence despite a smaller number of followers, and any company worth working with will already know this.

The issue which is becoming more and more apparent to me is the practice of some brands attempting to harness the following of bloggers for the sake of advertising. It's done in a very clever way which doesn't appear as clean cut adverts and almost uses said blogger as a middle man to soften the blow of appearing like a market trader shouting at passers by. After all pretty Instagram pictures and a sponsored tweet here and a blog post there seem much less intrusive don't they? I think the time has dawned that bloggers need to be very careful of merging with an idea that they can be easily persuaded to do the work of an advertising agency for a lesser fee. I do believe brands and bloggers can work well together but never by alienating and breaking down the trust of loyal readers. There are many social media agencies and PR companies who really get what blogging is about, it's just a case of being wary of some.

I can't say you can trust every blogger but what I can say is that it's more than likely we don't pretend to be a fan of something just for the sake of it, in a world of fake fans and brands manipulating fame it just paves the way for bloggers with integrity to shine through. 


  1. Great post. I wanted to watch Dispaches but I totally forgot!

    I find it strange though that around the time it would be on I lost 1,034 Facebook Likes (I only know this as I've been working hard this past few weeks on building up my Facebook page and every night at 11pm I write down how many likes I currently have).

    Anyway, back to the point - I'm now wondering if (a) people think my page is now dodgy because of this programme (b) There's a Facebook Glitch or (c) I'm really that boring lol.

    Either way, if these people did read my reviews and stuff I'd hope they'd see that I don't ever rave about something because I received it for review. If I don't like it I say so - in a nice way of course as I don't want to offend the brand in question. I like to try and comment on what could be better rather than what I don't like about it. If that makes sense?

    Sorry for the rambling lol.

    Louise x

    Confessions of a Secret Shopper

  2. This is such a good explanation of situation! I agree with this about celebrities, but I just don't want to go there. In Croatia we have situation that PR agencies and brands invite and send products to fashion bloggers, but not to beauty bloggers. I really don't mind if they send to anyone, because it's their job, but it seems to be, a big fail. Also, we witnessed recently paid reviews, for petty money, and that also sucks... :/ However, not everything is that gray...we have also a pretty good community and support between each other and I really hope things will get better in future.

  3. I watched Dispatches too. The main difference is that I think the majority of beauty bloggers are careful about making it clear when they receive a PR sample for review, whereas the celebrities featured weren't doing.

    It can be annoying that companies pay for fake followers when other people are working hard to gain genuine ones, but I just think that 'what goes around comes around' and the scamming ones will be exposed for what they are eventually.


  4. I completely agree with you on this topic.. it does take common sense to differenciate when celebrities are genuinely endorsing something or when they've been paid and prompted to endorse it.

    It complicates things that companies now could latch on to the blogging community as a kind of scapegoat but it's down to us as bloggers to keep focussed on what we believe in and to keep hold of the reasons we began blogging in the first place.

    You've encapsulated the important bits in your post entirely!


  5. I've ready your blog for a long time and I really liked the idea of this post as it is difficult to figure out some times.

    I just wanted to ask though what policies regarding this you implement on your blog. Correct me if I'm wrong but I remember a while ago you posted saying you don't put a disclaimer on your blog or by items your were sent etc as your views on products are your own. To you it doesn't matter if it was sent to you or if you paid for it because your being honest.

    While I do believe this to be true, I think it is because of situations like you have mentioned in your post that it is important to be as clear as possible about what is gifted and what isn't, what is sponsored and what isn't.

    I know lots of bloggers put a * next to items they have received and have a disclaimer noting that if they don't like a product they will say so and this makes it clear that they aren't being paid to say anything they don't mean.

    Like i started off by saying I have ready your blog for a long time and wouldn't have done so if i didn't like your posts but sometimes I do wonder what was sent and what was paid for. I hope you don't take this as an attack on you because its definitely not meant as that, I would just like the matter made clearer I suppose.

    1. I completely understand your point however I see a huge difference between a minor celebrity receiving something for free simply to endorse it and a blogger receiving a product to try it out thoroughly and review it. Therefore I feel that if a blogger is writing an honest review on something that there isn't need for a disclaimer as it's irrelevant if it was a sample or not. That's just my personal view but I'm thinking I may start to add disclaimers for PR samples if people see it as a big issue that I don't. I just like to have my own way of doing things and hope that enough people trust in me being honest enough for them to not care if it was a sample or not. Constructive criticism is always welcome though of course so thanks for your comment!

    2. Thank you so much for your response. I completely agree and it's your blog to do what you want with it but I appreciate you taking the time to explain your view point. I hope you find a way to express your stand point in a way that suits your blog and style of blogging. I look forward to reading your blog in the future

      Amy xx