What is it and is it important for bloggers?
integrity ɪnˈtɛɡrɪti/ (noun)
The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.
“Honesty is the best policy” as the old saying goes. So why would it be any different for bloggers? Whether you are writing an opinion piece, reviewing a product or working with brands on events or partnerships – why can’t we all be honest?
I’ve been blogging for a long time but have only recently started taking a closer look at other people’s blogs and making an effort to read a diverse range of posts. The points I’m going to make probably apply to anyone that writes (including journalists), but I’m not sending shots at anyone in particular for not showing integrity.
It’s now an official guideline that people must disclose when they have worked with brands or received free products. It’s obviously very important, and brands only really give things away for free to get something back in return – be it coverage, increased awareness or a boost in sales.
If only people would stick to their guns when considering doing sponsored posts with an asterisk * or #ad. If you have an opinion don’t tone it down, shout it loud and proud! If you’re on the fence about an issue, don’t jump on the controversial side just for views! And most importantly, if you get a product to review do not lie about it.
The numbers game
It’s all getting a bit crazy in the world of “influencers” – bloggers and vloggers are getting hung up on their number of followers to the extent that some are buying followers or likes on social media and using “bots” to boost their profile. What a sad, sorry existence, but it didn’t anger me to the extent I saw it blowing up on my Twitter and Facebook timelines.
A website called Social Blade was showing follower counts bobbing up and down like yo-yos and people were publicly outing others in fits of untamed outrage on one sunny Sunday afternoon.
People can do what they want and be dishonest in life but who am I to be judge and jury? Plus, you can’t beat real engagement from real followers.
If brands will fall for someone with fake followers, they’re probably choosing the wrong people to work with anyway and are not companies that I would aim to work with. Some of these people did massage their stats and it meant some of them got paid opportunities or free products fraudulently.
Don’t bitch and moan online though – step your game up.
Making the right choices
Fake brands, companies with substandard products, organisations that go against your ethics or beliefs or ones that simply don’t fit with your blog may contact you as a blogger if you’re “PR Friendly” (or even if you just have an email address listed somewhere on the internet). Remember you can always say NO.
Your blog is the shop window to your personal brand so my advice is to only put in what you’d actually sell. I’ve previously been asked to promote payday lending and turned it down as it’s something that I don’t personally agree with.
Some brands have also taken bloggers along to horse racing days. I used to be naïve to animal “sports” and even used to place bets on them. Over the past few years and after visiting Scooby Medina animal rescue in Spain my outlook has really changed on things like this that I would now turn down but previously may have gone along to (perhaps a topic for another post).
Convincing people to buy something that is no good or bigging something up as treasure when in actual fact it’s trash, is misleading. In the long-term, it may also damage your brand or blog as you may upset people by promoting the latest “hot right now” product that didn’t work or fell to pieces after being used twice.
I’m in a few blogger Facebook Groups and it’s been refreshing to see people actively saying when they don’t like companies, products or apps. This allows them to give constructive feedback to help improve the service or product rather than posting something full of lies or promoting something that they’d never use.
Believe in YOUR brand. Stay true to yourself and keep up the hard work #positivity.