Over the past few years, reviews have become a staple of bloggers who like to share the things they find and enjoy with their readers. And even more common, companies are reaching out to bloggers offering products (or services or events) for review.
We all know that there things like FTC guidelines to follow to make sure that readers know that the product was gifted and the review is not paid for but what else can bloggers be doing to make sure that their reviews are beneficial to both their readers and the brands they are working with?
In short, what takes a review from drab to fab?
In this O2O Chat, we discussed the ins and outs of writing reviews that are helpful and insightful for readers and also respectful of the brand (even if you don’t like what you’re reviewing). We were joined by five One2One Network members who have participated in a variety of review campaigns with us over the years.
- Anne Parris from Not a Supermom
- Holly Lefevre from 504 Main
- Lisa Collins from Sweeties Freebies
- Rachel Ramey from Titus 2 Homemaker
- Tammy Munson from Simply Tango
In this discussion, we talk specifically about reviews of products, services, and events. By reviews, we mean “earned media” and those are not paid (or sponsored) posts. The blogger has received something to review but has not received compensation beyond the product itself.
Highlights from our discussion:
Only accept products (or services or attend events) that are a good fit for you. (If you don’t have a baby, you don’t need to review diapers or baby food.)
Storytelling is key. Make the review interesting to your readers by incorporating your experience into a story.
As much as possible, use your own words. Do not copy and paste the information provided by the brand. Use provided information to highlight the brand or the product in a meaningful way (point out interesting things about the brand, e.g. if they have a chartiable giving aspect to their mission).
Don’t say “no” right away to a pitch. Think it over and see if you can make it work within the context of storytelling.
Don’t say “yes” right away to a pitch. Make sure the product and the timing is right for you and your blog. You don’t have to accept every pitch that comes along. The timing may not work for you personally or may not fit into your editorial calendar. Don’t force it on yourself.
Understand the requirements of the review:
- Read through everything you receive
- Make sure you understand the directions and the focus of your post
- Mark down due dates
- Research the product/brand
Sometimes the best picture you can use is the one you take. They don’t have to be perfectly lit and composed. Pictures you take of your experience with the review product add a personal touch to the post.
When possible, have others (family, friends, neighbors) test the product, too. That will provide a more well-rounded review.
Take notes as you try out the product (especially if you need to use the product for a certain length of time).
Take photos from “package to finish” for items that require assembly.
Include a link to brand near top of the post. And always use no-follow links. (Yost has a great plug-in for no-follow!)
Include links to brand social media at the end of the post.
Always include a disclosure but try to make them conversational and organic instead of a standard, legalese disclosure (unless required by the brand).
If you have a problem with the product, go back to your rep, ask questions, make sure you’re using the product correctly.
Be specific about what you didn’t like. State facts, not insults. “I washed the dress and the hem came out.” vs. “This dress is a rip-off”. You haven’t made a judgement call about the product, you’ve stated for fact what you experienced. This is helpful not only to the reader, but to the company as well since it can point out improvements that may need to happen.
Don’t slam the company or the product. If you didn’t have a good experience you can either try to relate it in a positive way to your readers or you can choose not to write about it. (Always contact the brand rep to let them know, communication is key.)
What else would you add? What do you do to make your reviews fabulous?