The twitterverse was aflutter over the weekend over a campaign in which Kentucky Fried Chicken invited not only bloggers, but bloggers and their children on an all expenses paid trip to Kentucky to sample their newest Lil’ Buckets meals. Almost immediately, the backlash began on Twitter from notable health and fitness bloggers (read more tweets in the slideshow below).
Influential and notable blogger, Jessica Gottlieb, not only took to Twitter, but also wrote an insightful post in which she states:
The problem comes when bloggers are made to look like liars, immediately diminishing that very valuable intangible asset – integrity.
Soon there were bloggers tweeting from all sides: the health advocates questioning and wanting change, the others supporting the bloggers on the trip, calling the questions from health advocates “cyber bullying,” and saying to leave the bloggers alone. Attacks are never cool. But when you accept a trip or campaign (such as this one), people will voice their opinions, and that is not cyber bullying. Bloggers should be aware of all outcomes when they accept any campaign, and if they accept, be ready for any reaction. But just how much responsibility does a blogger have? I asked a few notable bloggers for their opinions, including Louise Bishop, who was part of the KFC press trip (note: I reached out to 2 other bloggers who took part in the press trip; at the time of publishing, no reply has been received. Also, no statement has been issued from KFC):
Do Bloggers Have a Responsibility Because of Their Influence?
I have a responsibility to tell the truth and voice my opinion and I should be able to voice my opinion without being publicly humiliated by people saying they lost respect for me or that I’m an idiot. I think it was wrong of the other bloggers to use the hashtag for their healthy eating platform. If they have problems with the company they need to leave the bloggers alone and voice their opinion against the company without being derogatory to their colleagues in the space.
- Louise, Mom Start
I think I have a responsibility to my own beliefs and system of guidelines. To my own integrity. It’s hard for me to imagine what everyone will or should think of my choices. In the end, I’d rather people respect why I made my choices rather than the choices themselves.
If influencers don’t have a sense of personal integrity, it wears away their audience. Readers pick up on it. It’s not buyer beware. It’s blogger beware!
- Charlie Capen, How To Be A Dad
Yes, I do [believe bloggers have a responsibility]. It’s hard because it can mean lost revenue, but I won’t promote something that is outside of my values. I’ve turned down campaigns for things like processed foods and non-ethically sourced chocolate, but I’m okay with it. I’d rather make less money and feel like I’m living to my values.
- Kristen Howerton, Rage Against The Minivan
The moment any of us start having an audience that follows and reads what we have to say we also acquire the responsibility that comes with our voice. I don’t believe in shaming any blogger for the decisions they take when it comes to who or what they will support, but I do encourage all bloggers – with any level of influence – to remain consistent with their voice and what they believe in. I know that it’s tough to do when there are lucrative offers, but nothing is more valuable than your reputation. Plus, the more consistent you are with who you are, the more attractive you will become to the right brand and that’s a win-win.
- Ana Flores, Spanglish Baby
I’d go on a press trip with a company to learn about them even if I didn’t personally like their product ie…a fastfood chain. Just because I dont like xx sandwich doesnt mean my readers don’t and would not want to know more information about the company.
- Lauren, Midget Momma
Yes! So many functions of what a brand or business does is beyond your control. A slip up on social media can sink a business these days and you could have zero to do with that as a brand ambassador BUT, because you’ve tied your brand to theirs formally (as an ambassador) or more informally (branded hashtags as you report from your a comped media trip), your readers expect some level of accountability.
- Jennifer Chidester, Live.Mom.Work.
As bloggers, we are constantly arguing over our influence, from who has influence to what price to put on that influence. Many are not only online influencers, but influencers within their communities, schools, various organizations, charities and more. We should never attack each other, but bloggers accepting press trips, sponsored campaigns or ambassadorships should not believe that they are absolved responsibility on social media. Your name is what you built, and when you attach it to someone or something, you are responsible for the outcome – whether it’s in your hands or not.
Do you feel a blogger’s influence makes them responsible for campaigns they are a part of? Blog readers, what do you think when a blog and brand align? Does it make you trust the brand more?
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