The low down on bloggers, disclosure and ethical blogging


If you’re new around here you might not know that as part of our “bringing people together” mantra, we host a regular Twitter chat via the hashtag #bmbchat. It’s a chance for bloggers, business peeps and anyone with an interest in blogging/working with brands etc… to have a live conversation about how the whole shebang works. Tonight’s topic was on Disclosure.

What do we mean by disclosure?

  Disclosure is the purposeful act on behalf of the blogger to make their relationship with a brand obvious to the reader.

In an hour we generated over 250 tweets, trended on Twitter for most of that time and were joined by about 30 people – clearly this is a hot topic!

Some of the questions we discussed included:

– Is Disclosure an issue for the Aussie blogosphere at the moment?

The general consensus was YES this is an issue. At the same time, all of those participating in the conversation said they felt that the bloggers they know and read are all very good at disclosing any brand relationships on their blogs though sometimes other social networks were less clear (especially Instagram).

The main issues that were identified were

– do readers really understand what the terminology means

– the difference between paid posts and those which are “in-kind” in that the bloggers has been gifted a product or given an experience

– where the disclosure is made on a page of the blog in a general way rather than on individual blogs posts (and affiliate links)

 

– Given there is no current legislation surrounding bloggers and disclosing their relationship w brands what do you think is ‘best practice’/most ethical? –

The universal response to this question was that everything should be disclosed front and center to the readers as either “sponsored” or “gifted”

An important comment came from Karan White at Pod Legal who said that…

Capture

 

Should tweets be disclosed and what’s the best way to do that?

There were two schools of thought to this. The legal one was that as long as it’s disclosed in the post you don’t need to disclose in the Tweet or elsewhere when promoting the post. The second was that, it’s a good idea to let your readers/community what you are inviting them to read.

 

– How about the idea of #nonspon hashtags for IG/Twitter etc… Is that necessary?

Again two schools of thought – the first was that these hashtags are useful for transparency and there was one mention from a blogger who uses these hashtags now after a bad (and unfair) experience (and I have heard from others doing it for the same reason). The other school of thought is that it’s taking things too far and we all buy things and that should be fairly obvious.

My personal feeling about this is that if a blogger is ethical in the way they disclose then there should be no need for them to use a #notgifted hashtag  – a case of  “let your yes be yes” you might say but there are a number of bloggers whom I respect you hashtag in this way so each to their own.

 

– Do readers understand what a “sponsored post” is?

This was an important question and I must admit not one that was on my mind as we went into the chat but I think it needs more consideration.

 

– How many bloggers have had an issue with a PR/agency about disclosing?

A number of bloggers said they had experienced this issue with agencies and UK agencies were noted as being amongst the worst. I’ve also encountered it through my personal blog.

I’d be interested to hear from other bloggers about whether this is something you are facing regularly with agencies pitching you?

 

I also asked a hard question of the bloggers who joined in and given the open forum we were in was prepared for a limited response. I asked “we often see “product gifted/post sponsored **BUT opinions are my own** If we get gritty, is that always true?”

Fairly understandably there wasn’t a big discussion around this topic but I would be interested in in hearing your thoughts if you are a blogger. Australians run some of the highest rate of branded content on their blogs in the world and I think we could do with some more frank conversation about how organic and authentic it is. It may sound strange coming from a blogger outreach agency but we have our eyes wide open to this space and are heavily invested in working with bloggers where we can bring advocacy together with influence. Where advocacy is replaced with a cheap brand of marketing we want to call it out for what it is and ask how can we do this better?

 

What do you think? What did I miss?

 

 

2 Comments

  1. I have recently seen on a number of American blogs that they are adding this to every post:

    PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Any and all opinions are purely my own, and not influenced by these compensations.

    I wonder if it is there every time if the meaning of it is watered down?

    Nic

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  2. I considered adding a ‘not sponsored, just genuinely like it’ kind of disclosure to a recent Instagram. But then I realised that it could be construed that my recommendations are not genuine if and when sponsorship is involved. If we are doing the right thing by our readers and only ever expressing our true opinions, paid or otherwise, then there shouldn’t be a need for hashtags like #notgifted. Simply let your audience know you bought something and really dig it!

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