Dear (many, but by no means all) Corporate and Advertising Social Media people,
Hi. I'm a mommy blogger. I'm not famous - not even within mommy blogging circles - but I've been in the community for 4 years or so. I read a lot of bloggers. I hang out on the Twitter. And I'm watching what you're doing to the community that saved my sanity when I had 2 kids in 15 months and quit teaching. And then moved halfway across the country. These are the (mostly) women who prevented me from feeling so alone, who made me laugh exactly when I needed it. And now that you've discovered how awesome they are, you've decided to take advantage.
You sponsor posts, which just means you create a lot of really cheap commercials. You have people host giveaways and "reviews", but negative reviews are not allowed. You throw Twitter parties so that bloggers can maybe earn a gift card. You send us press releases. You take some bloggers on trips so that they're grateful enough to spread your message. You offer coupons. You believe you are doing us all a favor.
Your favor, though, has started a lot of arguments. Now it's true that there have always been arguments in the mommy blogging community - co-sleeping, TV watching, what have you. But the debacle with the Corn Refiners Association, for example, was especially ugly. Now there's a baby feeding app from Similac causing even more drama. It makes me so frustrated.
What you have to understand, corporate types, is that my blog is my little piece of real estate on the internet. And when you offer me $5 to post your product on a banner across my front window, you'd better have the most amazing product ever. I do not get paid for hanging out on this piece of real estate like "real" journalists. I do not have a union or corporate structure to hide behind if I set off an explosion in my internet yard. Chances are, I bought this piece of real estate because I like writing and the idea of joining a community. Also, I may crave adult interaction. Do not confuse this with a desire to talk about your product.
If you want to advertise on my blog, BUY AN AD. I will not sell space to you if I hate your product, thus my readers are reminded that I approve of your product and you get a sign on my lawn. If you want my opinion on your product, let me sample it and pay me as much as you pay people in your focus groups. I often make $75 an hour to hang out with you and your product at a focus group, but you want to give me $10 or a free sample for letting you come over to my internet home and hang out for weeks at a time? And in the focus group you value my honesty, but in MY SPACE you want me to lie? Really? Doesn't that seem a little messed up?
Look, I know you've found lots of mommy bloggers willing to do things your way. But just because people are willing to put up with something, that doesn't make it right. People also used to put up with jobs that had no sick days or institutionalizing kids who were different or ostracizing people with AIDS. And then people fought for what was right and the world got better. Don't you want to make the social media world a better place?