(Un)Biased? Writing Negative Reviews

We received free products from EQtainment in exchange for our unbiased review.  All opinions are our own.

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I’m sure you’ve seen that statement before.  If you’re a blogger or reviewer or journalist who has received products for free or at a discount, it’s required under the FTC so readers know that, although we claim our review is unbiased, there is a potential for, shall we say, influence?

In our experience, pressure to be positive never comes from the brand.  It’s something within ourselves, that if we’re honest about it, we might say:

a) I like getting free stuff; We fear, if I write something negative, I might stop getting picked to be a party host, product tester, brand ambassador, etc.

b) I like to feel special.  We especially feel special when the stuff we get is pre market.  Hey, it’s a millennial thing.  We are the generation of trophies for all.

c) I really feel like I have influence.  We spend a lot of time with products and services in a particular space that’s important to us (for us, it’s healthful, family lifestyle stuff).  We feel like we can spot the next big thing or the next big dud within the first five minutes (or seconds) of looking a product over.  We also hope we can help others save time and money by helping to provide our feedback on that stuff.  After all, that is how most millennial purchases are influenced–not based on what superstar is in a commercial with it, but what people like us are saying about it on social media, says writer @ChristieGarton from Entrepreneur 

The definition of “expert” has drastically changed for many millennials. From YouTubers to bloggers to close friends, millennials value the advice of other shoppers in similar life-situations willing to share their firsthand experience. In fact, 84 percent of millennials report that user-generated content has at least some influence on what they buy.

Luckily for us, we haven’t received any products we didn’t absolutely love, so that makes it easy.  Until now.  On the eve of a big conference, where we are about to peddle our blog and brand experience to a wealth of brands right up our “healthful, #Semi_Handmade lifestyle” space, hoping to find influencers to get people to buy their product, or even better, own their brand, and we’re posting a two star review.

via GIPHY

So what did I do?  I googled it.  Yep, I wanted to see, what do my favorite authors do when they don’t like something?  I searched sites for negative product reviews.  I searched for articles on how you WRITE a negative product review.  You know what I found?   230,000,000 hits on how writing a negative review could get you sued.  What?!  Freedom of speech vs libelous acts, no wonder I don’t see a lot of hater blog articles out there.  Let go of the fear of the “free stuff” well drying up, we might actually be sued by a brand? #NotWorthIt #KeepItMoving

There is a code for blogging/opinion/journalism/media/social media/new media.

  1. Be honest
  2. Review only that which you have actually tried
  3. Just the facts, ma’am; opinions are good too, but keep it based on your experience and be prepared to back it up!

Truth be told, with all of the companies trying to cash in on brokering the relationships between brand and blogger, it’s getting harder to see the lines as they blur.  Some of these broker companies are fabulous and we use a couple.  They make us aware of products and/or brands we might never have heard of otherwise.  Others are a little sketchier.  They encourage moms to join in on Twitter or Facebook parties to weigh in on products they haven’t received, or write a review of a product in order to “win” a chance to try the product (what? Yes, I know.  Exactly).

So here we are, with the biggest lead in to a product review ever (sorry).  A couple of caveats.

  1.  Our review isn’t a Hater review.  I know, with this preamble, you are probably expecting us to blast this company or set of products.  Well, if so, you’ll be disappointed.
  2. We tried to be balanced, and honestly, we WANTED to love this product, we just don’t.
  3. We apparently are the minority.  In the Amazon reviews so far, we are between 2-6th% of all reviewers, although keep in mind, most of these reviewers are fellow parents who received this product for free in exchange for an unbiased review.
  4. All press is good press.  Right?  I guess we will see.  Hopefully our brands won’t drop us.  I don’t think they will.  Truthfully, if you make a good product or perform a great service, stand by it and/or be willing to modify based on sincere opinions of your target market.

EQtainment Review

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