A Travel and Lifestyle Blog
It’s time for a cuppa and a chat post, and I seem to have kicked the hornet’s nest over on Instagram this week! It was not intentional, but the strength of people’s opinions on it, were interesting and made me want to delve deeper! I am a curious person, I like to understand things, so I found it all very thought provoking. Grab your cuppa people, let’s have a chat about social media adverts, (and blog post ad’s) and how people feel about them. Buckle up, it’s a long one!
When you write a blog, or work on Social Media, sometimes opportunities arise. For many, it even becomes their full time job. Brands or companies may contact you, or you may have pitched to them, to see about working together on a collaboration. This could be in the form of cash payment, gifted items to review, gifted experiences, press trips, restaurant reviews etc. There are lots of differant ways of working with brands. Should you decide to work with the brand, there are rules about how you must declare this collaboration to your “audience”.
The ASA, (Advertising Standards Authority) have strict rules on what we have to declare, and how we declare it. One of the ways we have to declare, is to clearly put “Ad” (or a variation of) at the start of any post we make where we have received payment of any kind. The idea is that your audience know from the outset, that your review etc is part of a partnership with the brand. I should also point out that “influencers” are the main ones affected by this rule. Journalists for example do not have to declare like we do. So, they could be on the exact same press trip, selling the exact same thing, yet they do not have to state “ad”. That seems crazy to me, but it is what it is.
For me personally, it is not often that I do any “ads” on my blog or social media. I choose not to for lots of different reasons, but I of course have no issue with those that do. For many it is how they pay their bills, just like any job, (also, blogs are not free to run, so a little help with cost is always welcome)! However, I recently did post an “ad” post on Instagram, as I had been invited to review a restaurant that I have previously worked with. I declared it fully and clearly as an ad, and the post bombed! It performed less than half as well as my normal posts do. Now, I am NEVER one to chase likes, followers or any other vanity metric, (you can read about them in this post, Bloggers – Have you fallen into the vanity metrics trap), but it did make me curious. Do people just not engage with something that is an ad? Why? What makes people switch off from them? Why are blogger’s doing ad’s viewed so differently to other forms of advertising? So, in typical Kerry style, I asked! Simple as that! I have a question, I ask and hear it from the horses mouth.
Well, what a response I had! I literally could not keep up with the messages coming in. It seemed people had very strong views and opinions on this, and were more than happy to share them with me. I always welcome and appreciate honesty, so was so appreciative of how open everyone was. Quite a few fellow bloggers also asked me to share the responses. A lot of people now are looking to develop their blogs or social media platforms into their job or side hustle, so I think these points are good to know. So, I have rounded up the main points made, and compiled them into this post for you.
PLEASE NOTE – I am simply collating the information. This does not mean that I agree or disagree with what people have said. I am just delivering the feedback given (don’t shoot me, ok)……
The good news is, a lot of the responses were not dead set against ads. It seems that it is more how they are done, and how often that causes the most negative kick back. Quite a few people said they support ad’s fully, so that was good! Other people stated that they view them no differently to standard posts. Also good. Interestingly, my non-blogger followers seemed more switched off to ad’s than my fellow blogger’s. I do have quite a large portion of followers that are non-bloggers, so worth bearing this in mind.
Not Declaring Clearly – This point came up in over half of the responses that I got. It seems that bloggers/influencers that try to “hide” the fact that the post is an ad, are viewed with suspicion. A few people even went as far as to say that it “pee’s them off”. Some things that were stated as hiding the ad were; not declaring at start of post, putting in tiny letters on Instagram stories, hiding the “ad” in hashtags, and undeclared press trips or invites. Many people stated that they have no issue with people running ads, but they want it declared clearly.
They Worry – This one was quite a surprise to me. A few people (9) were honest and told me that it was me personally that the did not want to see running ads. Reasons varied. One reason was that they enjoy the fact that I do not have ad’s on my feed, so they know I have put my hand in my own pocket and spent my own cash on it. Another was because they had “seen it all before”, a feed starts with one occasional ad, quickly turns into a gazillion ads a week etc. Someone else also gave their reason that they think of me as a “normal” person (that one made me chuckle) so it surprises them when I do an ad.
Overkill – Many feel that blogs and Instagram have become nothing more than a sales platform. They switch off and feel totally unengaged with the content that is ad’s. Many also said they felt press trips were too curated and often felt un-relatable. (I assume they mean on stories for that point)
Un-relatable – I was really interested in this one as I am determined to always be relatable. It is so, so important to me to remain that way. A few people said that they cannot relate to someone that is often on “free trips” (their words not mine, I know the work is not free that press trips expect) or going to fancy restaurants they have not paid for. They said that it annoys them that people are advertising these things as “oh you must go/see/try”, yet have not paid the £££’s themselves for it. One lady said “I cannot relate to someone that is flogging a trip they have not paid for themselves, when I have been saving for 4 years to go on holiday”. She was not saying this from a jealousy point of view, more of a “can’t relate” view. I do actually understand this point, and it has been something I am incredibly conscious of.
Distrust – Be it wrong or right, it seems that the general public do not have much trust in “influencer marketing”. Many stated that they question the integrity of the person writing the review if it’s an ad. I think this is sad and more a reflection on how suspicious we are as a society. I will not lie and say I do not have some degree of understanding of their point, but I do think it is a shame we have reached this stage. I also think that bad press and those that have no integrity have ruined it for others.
New Products Every Other Week – So this one is aimed more at the beauty bloggers. It seems that many are fed up with the way beauty influencers are declaring a different product as their “must have”, every other week. One lady said that she had unfollowed someone as in the course of a month, the person had claimed they “were obsessed” with various different brands skin care product’s in 5 “ads” throughout that month. She lost trust in the person.
The Ad not fitting niche – This came up a few times. People do not like it if someone randomly advertises something that they do not cover in their usual content. A couple of example were given, a fashion blogger advertising a bed, a beauty blogger advertising transport. Random! They said it feels like these sort of adverts are “freebie grabbing” and not relevant. They switch off and lose a little faith in the person.
Something else I found interesting was that there seems to be a shift away from over curated, over professional feeds. A few people said they feel bored by feeds that are “too polished” That the magazine feel is done to death. I am not too sure what “the magazine feel” is if I am honest, but I assume the very “editorial” type feel? I suppose an “ad” photo can often have that polished feel too keep a brand happy?
The Instagram algorithm was also brought up as a good point. Apparently, Instagram can play dirty with anything flagged as an “ad” and not show it up in feeds etc. I am not sure how that all works, (is anyone), but I can see why Instagram would do it. Let’s face it, they want people to pay to boost their post’s!
One last point that I thought was very valid, and came up a few times. It was mentioned that people want to see Me. As in, they prefer to see, and respond more, to photos of me as a person. For the love of God why people, why???? They gave the example, if I had taken a photo of me in the restaurant, holding a glass of wine or something, people may have enjoyed and connected with that more. They connect with me, even a dodgy iphone selfie, rather than a photo of delicious food.
It was actually suggested by one of my wonderful Insta buddies that I look at my stats to see what photos are most popular as proof to this point. They were dead right. My most popular pics have me in them. (It may be worth looking at your own stats out of interest) I genuinely, from the bottom of my heart have no clue why. I personally prefer a scene of beautiful landscape or buildings any day of the week! I do therefore, probably shoot myself in the foot as I will always remain true to me, and post what I like. I am not about to start filling my feed with photos of me no matter how much more popular they are! Not a chance. I hate over posed, typical Insta pics. But, I wanted to mention it in this post in the interest of full disclosure and honesty of what came up.
So, there we have it. Finally we are at the end! I hope this has been helpful. I know I am a bit of a Nerdy McNerdy Pants, but I genuinely found it interesting how people think. I like the psychology behind it. I have never, ever thought of myself as “an influencer” and spoke more about that in this post, Why I work for free. Genuinely, I am just that old bird Kerry who likes to try to give you a bit of inspo for your next trip! I know more than most how important it is to make memories with loved ones. I adore writing my blog with every ounce of my being, so for me, Kerry Life and Loves is a labour of love.
However, it does cost money to run a blog, so I do relish and accept the opportunities that I feel fit well with my blog and ethos. It helps to keep my costs low. I will always remain authentic and relatable though. That is never, ever going to change. I think it is a shame that blogger’s posting adverts is viewed so negatively, but perhaps over time that view will be turned round. The new rules regarding declaring ad’s could help with that as it is all clear and upfront. Transparency can only be a good thing in my view. What do you think?
I would absolutely love to know what you think about all this. Whether you agree with the points that came up, and if you have any others to add. How do you view adverts? What your own thoughts are when you scroll through social media feeds that are mainly ads etc. As ever, the Cuppa and a Chat series is about discussion. Respectful and grown up discussion. I know from the response over on Instagram that people have strong views on this, so a difference of opinion is fine, but do not shoot the messenger…..!