Many of us have been reviewing products for quite some time now and I see on the forums at the moment that some people are worried about the future of sponsored posts and reviews. All this talk of follow and no-follow links is scaring some people but I won’t be going into that as I think it has been done to death just recently, check out here, here and here if you want to read more. It will be really interesting to see how things pan.
What I was thinking about the other day is negative reviews or maybe that is the wrong term. Obviously as a blogger undertaking a review you are not setting out to write a review that is negative. I just mean reviews where the product or service did not live up to your expectations and you felt like it was not a product you would buy or could fully endorse.
I have only had one situation where I found the product to be a real disappointment and I felt I did not even want to keep the product. For me the best thing to do was to email the company (or it could be a PR agency if applicable) and state to them what my problems were with the product, I offered them the right to reply and was happy to publish their response too. Never did it occur to me not to publish my review, I feel that once I have received something to review, I then have an obligation to inform my readers of my true feelings and I try to do that in a constructive way, giving a balanced review with both the plus and minus points included.
Can bloggers reviews be trusted?
There always seems to be a debate bubbling just below the surface of whether blogger reviews can be trusted, are they really impartial? For me if a blogger chooses not to publish negative reviews this then adds fuel to this view and I can understand why some would question the integrity of their reviews. I’m not saying they are doing anything wrong, just that I can understand why some might question. I think if you have the policy to only publish positive reviews then it is probably best to be upfront with your readers about that.
As a blogger you get to pick and choose what you review and this means that personally I turn down about 80-90% of the items offered to me currently and therefore the ones I take are something I think I will like or actually need. This does naturally mean there are less negative reviews as I am picky about what I take in the first place but there is always the odd item that you feel let down by. Of course if I was a paid reviewer I would take whatever was offered and I would have more negative reviews on my blog, that’s just the way it would pan out.
Some great examples of less than positive reviews
For this month’s round-up I set out to find the bloggers that are happy to write a review and to be completely honest with their readers. The first one I stumbled across was at The Boy and Me, they had been reviewing a Peppa Pig Fun Phonics toy and it is a great review, really comprehensive with photos, video footage and a good explanation of the toy and what it does. Then what I really respect is the explanation of the drawback of this product and how it is actually quite detrimental to be teaching your child to say phonics in the wrong manner and coming from an early years teacher you know she has foundation to be saying this. This is a great example of a review where you like part of the product and are happy to be balanced in your view of it.
I had to smile at the next review, as Looking for Blue Sky had reviewed a Powermat last summer and decided that it did not fit into their lifestyle and she could not see a point in it, so she kindly offered it for giveaway to a local reader. Reading the comments it becomes clear to see that others could see the value in it and they were even trying to persuade her of its potential benefits. I think this is powerful to read and see that a review that does not hold a product in a positive light is not necessarily a bad thing; it encourages conversation and makes people go away and research a product they may not even have looked at before.
Mama Geek was quite happy to be totally honest about how she found the Sit-to-Stand Activity Giraffe but I did notice she had bought it herself and I expect this does make it easier to feel like you can really let loose. Not that this should be the case of course, as bloggers when we are given items to review, it is about a balanced review not a positive editorial, that is something else entirely.
When I asked for examples of negative reviews many people pointed me over to The Wonderful Adventures of Spud and Spike. 3 year old Spud had been reviewing the Le Toy Van fire station and has been bought the matching fire engine and firemen and basically they all started to fall apart and would not fit together. Lauren had no qualms in being very honest in her video and this helped the retailer make the decision to refund the money she had spent. You have to love the power of social media and at least anyone using a search engine will now be able to find that review and be well informed.
Lastly we have a post from Ramblings of a Surburban Mummy when she reviewed a Dirt Devil vacuum and sadly found it had some annoying features. I like the way the negative are weaved into this review so that it reads well but is honest and makes it clear that this product did not live up to expectation.
I hope you feel inspired from reading these honest reviews to be really open in the posts that you publish. As bloggers we are effecting peoples buying decisions and that is a responsibility that I think should not be taken lightly.
Do feel free to linkup any reviews that you have done recently, positive or negative.