Are blog reviews worth anything? This is a question that I have been kicking around since publishing a couple of posts on Negative Gear Reviews. In my first post, we asked: When is it appropriate to post a negative gear review? Rand Lindsay (Co-Founder of Trail Designs and the Caldera Cone alcohol stove) added some comments that got me thinking in different ways. We asked if there is really such a thing as Negative Gear Review? And many of you commented sharing your opinions.
|Katadyn Hiker that I reviewed after purchase with my own money.|
While developing that post Rand and I talked a lot about Gear Reviews. In the conversation he mentioned that blog reviews aren’t very appealing to him as a Vendor. Rand said: “It is many times not in our interest to support a review from a blogger. Their reach is pretty limited and the ‘wild card’ factor hard to anticipate.” You never know how a blogger is going to represent a product. But, at the same time bloggers are easy to scope out. They have a lot of content available that revels their opinions and biases, and gives the vendor an opportunity to assess their ability to even write a review. Looking at these factors, Rand suggests, vendors will often times refuse to send free gear to a blogger in an attempt to “protect” their brand.
I asked Rand about blogger reviews. After all it seems to me that you have basically two types of people out there. They type that only read and respect Print Media, and the then you have your blogger types, who want to see a good blog review before buying a product. I happen to be one of the latter. I almost never buy a product unless I can read a blog review about it. I prefer the depth of blog reviews. Most Print reviews I read are brief, vague, with only one stock image. Where as blog reviews are in depth and have multiple photos. In my mind a smart company would seek both in an effort to appeal to the largest crowd possible.
Rand agreed with my assessment yet still hesitates to give out gear for blog reviews. he said:
“Our product is actually really good and popular……and there is no problem getting a lot of positive blog reviews.” [I Assume from bloggers who bought a stove with their own money.] “Also, since we are so unique and patented, we essentially have no competition. So, yes, blogs are very important to us because of everything you said. But, also, because of everything you said we have to be careful with the bloggers we give it to. If there are guys out there who never used alcohol stoves before, and love their pocket-rocket or whisperlite, they are going to hate our system……so we avoid those kinds of guys.”
So it seems, at least through my limited experience and research, that up and coming companies really need blogs to build a name for their gear. But once that name is built it has to be protected.
Rand went on to say:
“Print media, however, is a slam dunk. Their reach is huge and they typically don’t do a review if it isn’t going to be favorable. Not saying they are doing bad reviews and putting out information they don’t believe in…..more that they just won’t say anything or won’t even review it if it isn’t something they think their readership will appreciate.”
Which brings up another question. When was the last time you saw a negative review in a magazine? This was recently asked about blogs, but I don’t think I have ever heard anyone ask that of print media. But I can’t remember ever seeing negative print review. And no one questions print media reviews. Blogs are now required by law to disclose how they received the gear they are reviewing. Are their similar laws governing Magazines? I don’t think I have ever seen such a disclosure in a magazine.
I don’t know the answers to these questions, and Rand is the only Vendor to give me insight from their side of things. Are their more vendors out their that would be willing to chime in? What about you? Are Blog reviews better? Is Print Media Better? What do you think about “protecting” your products name? What do you think about giving free gear in exchange for SEO links building and the like? I would really like to hear what you have to say? Please comment below.
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