What Is #BloggerBlackmail? – Sandbox To Success Ep 015

Today on Episode 15 I’m going to talking to you about the hashtag #BloggerBlackMail. We’ll discuss what it is, how it came to be, and what can be done to avoid these situations.

What Is #BloggerBlackmail? - Sandbox To Success Ep 015

This may be something you’ve heard of before, or you may have never heard of it. It’s been about two weeks since this particular hashtag began. If you haven’t heard of it at all, you can view the original article that started it all here.

What Is #BloggerBlackmail?

A blogger was set to review a bakery. Each party had their own expectations of what would be provided in exchange for the review. Since it wasn’t discussed in detail, the parties had different expectations of what would be given in exchange for the review.

The Blogger was unsatisfied with the compensation received for the review and took photos, airing the business in a negative light on her social media. The Business then responded by airing their grievances about the Blogger in the article and on social media. The Blogger read that post and took to social media with a response (see her response here). She admitted that she had asked for more compensation at the time (around $200 or so, which is her normal fee).

Who is wrong?

My thoughts and feelings on this hashtag #BloggerBlackMail (which the small business has dubbed it as): all of this could be negated if the parties would have discussed their expectations clearly prior to the blogger coming. The Business had worked with bloggers in the past and understood the benefits of working with them. They should have laid out what they were willing to offer before. The Blogger also should have discussed exactly what sort of compensation she was expecting.

In my opinion, both parties were wrong. If either of them had done their due diligence in the beginning, none of this would have happened.

The Takeaway

This is a good takeaway for small businesses and bloggers. Always, always, always make clear what your compensation is or what you are willing to be compensated in exchange for the amount of work being completed. In addition, what sort of compensation you want should be made very clear. If you are a small business owner, you have the full right to say “For X compensation, I would like a blog post, x amount of social media shares, etc.” On the flip side, bloggers can also make their expectations clear. When a business pitches us, we say “Our post rates start at X number of dollars. Please let us know what you’re looking for, and that way we can do a custom quote for you.” If the business isn’t sure what they want, we take a look at their site and give them suggestions based upon our observations.

For example, if we are doing a food post we will say something like, “The post fee is x amount for a custom recipe with your product. If you would like our food contributor who customizes in this and has higher quality photos, etc. it will be an additional X amount of dollars. If you would like videos taken of the recipe in process that will be an additional X amount of dollars.” This allows the business to work with us and receive everything we provide, but they can pick it at a price point that works best for them.

The Intent

Reading the small businesses article, the second paragraph states this:

“A while ago, a not very well-known blogger emailed us a few times asking for a free macaroon and marshmallow samples in return for posting a positive review similar to others on her site. Now I’m a bit ashamed to admit this: I caved. Not because my intentions were to buy positive reviews by chucking free samples at anyone and their Nan with a blog, but far worse… I did it for Google (i.e. the backlink) which would improve our SEO ranking.”

The small business was a bit confused by this. There’s more than just a backlink when it comes to ranking with SEO. There is a lot more to do with it, which is a whole other podcast episode. There is also no way that the small business owner can know whether or not the blogger is well known, unless they are looking at their readership stats. Never assume that somebody is a small blogger or big blogger. Always ask. If you are going to compensate in product or services you have every right to ask what you’re going to get in return for that.

Same with bloggers. I’m not one to say never work for exposure; It’s everyone’s personal decision. If you decide to work in exchange for social media promotion, etc. don’t be afraid to ask what the reach, click through rate, metrics for a like-minded blogger, etc. is. If the company isn’t willing to disclose this then don’t be afraid to walk away.

Ethics

Now, on to the part of the article that says, “She would give me a positive review.” This is just a question of ethics. I know if someone is paying you to provide a service you don’t want to bash them, but there are other editorial guidelines you can put into place (for instance, giving the company a chance to rectify before posting the issue). You never want to guarantee a positive review before you see the product.

Social Media Bashing

Both parties have sort of shot themselves in the foot by this. I understand the Blogger wanted to protect her brand, and the Business wanted to do the same, but there are other ways of doing this. I’ve seen numerous times in my blogger groups where someone has had a negative experience with a brand and they say “Hey, I’ve made this nasty tweet… will you everyone retweet it?” Everyone retweets and then they get like 50 retweets and no one knows the whole story except for the people in it and even then you are partial to your own side.

We aren’t in high school anymore. These are businesses. We need to rise up to a higher standard. Let’s go back to a little bit of kindness and compassion. Let’s work together and make these things work out. I know this episode is a little bit of a different note, but I hope you did get some takeaways on what happens if you have a negative experience and how to handle it. Let’s learn from others and all try to work together to bring blogging up to a higher standard.

Thanks for listening to the Sandbox to Success podcast, with your host: Katrina M. Thom. If you like what you just heard you can also leave us a message at iTunes or Stitcher.   Use the hashtag  #totspodcast to connect with us on twitter. Don’t forget to check out the show notes, which can be found at www.totsbusiness.com. Join us next time for another edition of the Sandbox to Success podcast. Have an AWESOME day!

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