Brands bashing bloggers – or, what, you (think you) don't need us any more?


Today was a pretty exciting day if, like me, brands bashing bloggers is your idea of fun. Let's get it straight: this is going to appeal to (a) those of us who are in the blogging / online media world and obsessed with every single thing that goes on therein and (b) those of us who wish for an Irish blogger YouTube drama channel. I happen to sit in the centre of that Venn diagram, so this is basically my Christmas.

What's this 'brands bashing bloggers' you speak of?

As it happens, brands bashing bloggers isn't very common. In fact, I can't think of the last time it happened – so when this post popped up (okay, fine, a friend sent it to me in a WhatsApp group we have specifically to talk about this type of drama), I was thirsty AF. I am being really super-honest here because I'm not writing this post out of the good of my heart; you should all know that I love any form of blogger gossip-slash-drama and I feel a burning need to air my thoughts on this topic.

To be honest, I was really surprised – on several levels. Firstly, Cocoa Brown has always been a really blogger-happy brand. They sent out bespoke #girlboss mugs to their favourite bloggers last year. They've hosted bloggers' brunches; they brought Suzanne to London last year to meet the Kardashians' makeup artist Joyce Bonelli. So I really do wonder what's happened to result in such a 180-degree turn.

To say that "there was an authenticity in the market when [Cocoa Brown] started" – and that there isn't now – tars all bloggers with the same tontouring brush; it doesn't even imply, it outright states that "there are no bad reviews any more" and "there's absolutely no authenticity left". Say whaaaaaat?

But... isn't that a good point?

The idea that there are no bad reviews in blogging is both true and untrue in that, depending on which bloggers you follow, you may see solely good reviews. There are definitely bloggers who choose to populate their sites with only things they'd recommend – and, guess what? They're totally entitled to do that.

Where the waters get muddied is where readers see those same bloggers being sent hundreds of euro worth of loot and think to themselves, hmmm, it's in that blogger's interest to say that's great (even if it isn't). But wait – if you don't think something is good, why would you want to be sent more of it? I know that one of my biggest gripes is (very first-world, I know) being sent a whole load of crap that I, firstly, don't like and, secondly, will never write about (because I don't like it).

In any case, there are definitely bloggers out there who do write about things they dislike – Gemma at Beauty Nook; Lorraine of John, It's Only Makeup, for example; Laura's Views (YouTuber); Sinead of The Beautiful Truth.

What about collaborations?

Let's get one thing out of the way: when I talk about this stuff, I'm talking both from my own experience and from my experience of being a super nosy bitch, who asks other bloggers about this kind of shit non-stop. I haven't spoken to every blogger ever and I obviously don't know each and all of their dos and don'ts, but I do know this; I have never heard a blogger saying that they did a collaboration with a brand they honestly disliked.

Talking from my own experience, I have only ever worked with brands that I either love and regularly buy / use, or whose campaigns or messages I am happy to endorse. I would never, for example, do a sponsored post about a foundation I thought was crap – or write a glowing "review" of something in exchange for money, and I don't know any bloggers who would. It wouldn't make any sense.

We all know that our currency – as bloggers – is our audience. We need them to trust us and believe us and, when we say something is good and they go out and buy it, you can bet serious money that they're going to let us know if it's rubbish. (And they're probably going to stop following and reading – I know I would!)

But guess what? You guys aren't making it easy, either

One of the biggest issues around blogging over the last few years has been authenticity or the perception that it is lacking. Readers (quite rightly) want to know when bloggers have been paid for an endorsement; from my chatting to followers, they also want to know when something has been given for free, or if there has been any sort of benefit in kind (were you taken out for a nice lunch? Did you get a free hotel stay?). That all makes total sense to me.

That being said, when we do disclose – hashtagging ad on blog posts, for example – readers simply won't read the post. I mean, c'mon! You're getting all this content for free; bloggers give you recommendations and videos to watch and we talk into Snapchat in public (cringe for us) which then gives you something to watch on your commute.

I'm not saying that bloggers are doing a massive charitable service for the world (we're not), but blogging is essentially a fun way for people to read about things they like, for absolutely free. So, y'know, it'd be nice if you'd do us a favour and read the f*cking sponsored posts! They are, after all, how we can afford to do what we do – and, if readers don't read the posts because they think they're not authentic, can you blame the bloggers who decide not to disclose?!

And with even brands bashing bloggers now, it can feel as if the whole world is against us – in a weird, catch 22 type of way. So: readers want to follow us and read or consume our content, but they don't want us to be making any money from it. If we are making money, they want to know; but they won't then consume that content, because it makes us seem inauthentic. If we post about things we don't like, we get accused of being unnecessarily negative "mean girls" (I should know) and, if we only post about things we do like, we can't be trusted. You see why it's all so tricky to stay on anyone's good side?!

But... what do the readers think?

I've taken the liberty of scouring Facebook and taken a few examples of what people had to say about the Cocoa Brown comments in the piece. Do you agree? Disagree? Does this make you angry? Happy? Sad? Please, share in the comments – or on any of my social comments.

At this rate, I'll be awake all night lapping up the dramz :)

Whenever I see a blogger do a write up on Facebook I scroll down to the bottom and if I see #ad or #spon I lose interest and don't bother reading it. The reason most people follow bloggers especially beauty bloggers is because we trusted what they were saying – from their own personal use of a product and they were all about their followers. Nowadays they are more interested in making money.

I see bloggers who want to crawl up the ladder by saying everything is great and never telling the truth!!

Absolutely nothing wrong with bloggers making some money. At the end of the day bloggers... spend a lot of their time writing and editing posts and pictures for reviews and spend a lot of their own money on products. There's also hosting fees etc.

Generally agree. Bloggers seem to have this "no criticism" rule with regards to reviews and comments, i.e. If you dare express a differing opinion/dislike or something they've expressed, you're blocked. "No negativity on my page"... welcome to the real world.

Why, I'm glad you mentioned that – maybe you'd like to watch my YouTube video on why "positive vibes only" is total bullshit!

P.S. Anyone who's "disappointed" that I would write a blog post about this clearly doesn't know me very well. This is the kind of shit I live for.