Honesty can be an uncomfortable proposition… as I’ve just found out.
Once upon a time, blogging came from a point of authenticity – a kingdom of honest opinions and authentic content. Fast forward to 2016 and it’s now a land driven by the ‘career influencer’ and their financial goals.
When I started YouTube in 2013, I created a channel based on a desire to create honest and informed content. A space where I could explore my own sense of style and experiment with products – all whilst sharing my experience with anyone who wanted to watch.
Three years on and I began to question myself before posting content – all because I was worried that speaking my mind would cause a backlash.
When I studied politics and history, we would constantly ask ourselves, “can we trust the source?”. Essentially, what is their motive and how much weight should we give their opinion?
Then studying an MA in broadcast journalism, I took this exploration a step further and began to understand the importance of the truth and sharing informed opinion and – more importantly – fact with your audience.
Now this all sounds pretty heavy, like I uncovered weapons of mass destruction in a foreign land or a plan to overthrow a political leader, but it wasn’t. I simply reviewed a hair product and bore the brunt of some unhappy viewers.
“My Honest Review”
Now this by no means was a negative review. It was a well rounded and informed, spending almost two months to test the product before reviewing it. I covered ten different points; with each aspect being meticulously interrogated; and at each stage I questioned if I could try again to make it work for me. It wasn’t (and still isn’t) anything personal and I stuck to the facts of my own experience.
Unfortunately for the product’s creators (and their very loyal fanbase), it just didn’t work for me. Many of their audience saw this as an insult and took to their closed (private) community group on Facebook to vent. In an ironic fairytale twist I was, however, accidentally added to the group. Oops.
Fortunately for me, my audience were receptive to my opinion and provided a huge amount of support in their comments – far outweighing the displeasure of the others. This, however, should never have been an issue.
The wonder of YouTube and blogging is that we can all be empowered to share our opinions. You might not agree with me but it’s personal opinion and that should never be censored.
Review ≠ endorsement
It’s a sad reality that we – the creators and audience – have nurtured an environment where the word ‘review’ is synonymous with ‘endorsement’; where communications professionals actively pitch a ‘review’ in exchange for a free product and a positive shout-out. Unfortunately that’s not the way I work.
I’m not prepared to fall in line with the others. This is my space and my opinion. I serve only my audience.