Reviews Round-up: Should you post a negative review?

ReviewsMany 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.

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About Michelle Pannell

Mummy from the Heart is the fourth baby of Michelle, a 43 year old (manic) mother living in East Sussex. Having moved to the countryside and ‘retired’, Michelle can now be found eating too much cake and taking long walks. She lives life on the bright side and looks for the joy in every situation, even the excess pounds those cakes keep adding! Michelle’s blog is a very honest place where she shares tales of imperfect parenting, being a Christian digital activist and anything else that takes her fancy.

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13 Responses to Reviews Round-up: Should you post a negative review?

  1. Becca 05 May 2012 at 20:11 #

    I really feel like price is such an important factor in the decision to purchase a product that I can only trust reviews if they have taken that into consideration. Bloggers really ought to include a value-for-money assessment if they have not paid for a product in order to be taken seriously. There is no end to the number of products that are fantastic when somebody else pays for them, not us.

    The key thing when writing negative reviews is to be grown-up about it. I read a horrific review recently, in which the blogger had simply taken to making sarcastic, jabby comments about the company, even though they had admitted fault with the original item they sent and had sent her a replacement. It became quite embarrassing to read!

    If a blogger reviews freebies too often, or features products that are of no interest to me whatsoever or don’t fit with the blog, I stop reading.

    • Michelle 05 May 2012 at 22:59 #

      You make a very good point about price. You have got me thinking now, but am pretty sure I do normally include the price and opinion on what I think if I had to pay that.

      As for the being grown up thing, I totally agree. Was chatting with someone about that tonight and how you shoudl not just be negatuve for the sake of it.

      Thanks, Mich s

  2. Expat Mum 05 May 2012 at 22:01 #

    I once didn’t write a book review, which I think is a little different. The author’s PR person asked me if she could send the book, and I agreed. When I got it, it just wasn’t my cup of tea although I could see its potential appeal. It wasn’t badly written or anything, it just seemed a bit pointless to me (and many “gift” books are actually a bit pointless). I really just wasn’t interested enough in it to even write about it but I didn’t want to slag it off just because of that. I wrote back to the PR person explaining my point and offering to mail the book back to her. She was actually fine, and let me keep the book.

    • Michelle 05 May 2012 at 23:00 #

      I agree that is different, as it is totally subjective and down to personal preference. It is not like you found faults with a product and then choose to cover them up.

      Mich x

  3. Blue Sky 06 May 2012 at 10:05 #

    I’m so glad that my review made you smile, Mich! I’ve only done three reviews – all honest – and am not an expert, so I will definitely take on board the comment about price.

    • Michelle 07 May 2012 at 21:17 #

      That is the beauty of the blogger review that none of us are experts, as long as we give an honest opinion we are doing our job I feel. Mich x

  4. Yummy Mummy? Really? 06 May 2012 at 19:11 #

    I have been able to be completely honest with my reviews so far, as I’ve not been in the position of having been given anything free to review. And even though I am currently in the process of reviewing an item I have been sent for free (the first one… so it’s strange), I would feel simply dishonest if I didn’t give a true opinion of the item.

    • Michelle 07 May 2012 at 21:19 #

      Giving an honest opiion is perfect I feel. Keeping it professional but true is a real skill. Good luck, Mich x

  5. Nadine Hill 06 May 2012 at 22:33 #

    Interesting article Michelle.
    My reviews tend to be positive because I only accept things I thinnk I’ll have a good chance of liking anyway, otherwise what’s the point? But I am honest in my opinions and if I dislike something I will say so, but in a constructive criticism kind of way!
    Getting something for free shouldn’t cloud someone’s judgement of a product. The PR takes that risk when they submit an item for review and we can’t all like everything.

    • Michelle 07 May 2012 at 21:20 #

      Ahh like me Nadine, life is too short to accept things you might not like anyway. You are right to give yoru negative feedabck in a constructive way, balance is the best thing a reviewer can offer.

      You make a good point about the PR’s knowing the risk of sending out products for review.

      Mich x

  6. the mummy adventure 08 May 2012 at 23:05 #

    I was very nervous when I had to write a less than positive review, as I had accepted this item, but I value my readers and would be horrified if one of them bought something on a false recommendation from me.

    I reviewed the babasling

    http://www.themummyadventure.com/2012/05/babasling-review.html

    and I can definitely see its values, in fact I have lent it to a friend with a newborn and will add her account underneath, but I had to be honest and say that it didn’t work for us. I tried not to be too negative but to be honest as well.

    • Michelle Twin Mum 11 May 2012 at 21:26 #

      Just had a read, not too negative at all, just honest. Super work. Mich x

  7. Marianne 13 May 2012 at 20:35 #

    Mich! The Linky isn’t working and I’ve only just seen it, I’m so sorry. going to add one now and then tweet it (sorry!)