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.