When was the last time you bought something because you watched someone on YouTube raving about it? Probably not too long ago. These days we tend to make an informed decision before we purchase things. Over the last few years, there has been a massive increase in PR companies reaching out to social media influencers to market their products. The good thing about YouTube was that you knew you could get an honest opinion from someone who has spent their money on a product and has given an honest review. But now it is difficult to tell if influencers are being honest with their opinion or are saying positive things about a product because they are sponsored by the brand themselves.
I have wanted to discuss this topic for quite some time as I feel like I fell into this trap a lot when I was younger. This does apply to many different industries but I wanted to speak about makeup in this post.
The Influence of YouTube ‘Beauty Gurus’
In the early days of YouTube, it wasn’t easy for consumers to identify whether someone was talking about a product because they really loved it or because they were being paid. In short, this is because sponsored content wasn’t as common and no one had to disclose sponsorships. The FTC law was introduced to set guidelines for the ways in which endorsed content must be disclosed. Consumers are able to easily identify if that influencer is being sponsored, this is considered when watching the review. If you aren’t familiar with the FTC guidelines, have a look online as it does apply to bloggers.
I believe the issue comes from the platform being so personal, we learn a lot about someone by watching their videos and their daily life. We trust what this person is telling us and unfortunately, sometimes they use this to their advantage. Some gurus are really honest and you can tell from the way they present their product reviews. Consequently, as a consumer it is difficult when someone isn’t being honest, they rave about a product, and we go and buy it only to be disappointed.
Influencer Conflicting Opinions – Sponsorship Bias
I was recently researching the Tarte Toasted palette, only to find mixed reviews amongst different people. In some cases the influencer said it was really good and then others said it was really bad, comparing it to ABH Subculture. I am sure you are familiar with the drama that came with that palette. One person who gave an honest review about the quality of the product highlighted how the ingredients were different to the other palettes. They stated that most of those who said they loved the palette were affiliated with Tarte. What’s disappointing is that these products aren’t cheap we spend our hard earned cash on products that were, in a way, mis-sold to us.
You could argue that this is just another form of advertisement. Which I completely agree with, the trouble is we don’t associate these people as an advert. It sounds silly but you build trust in the YouTubers that you watch on a frequent basis.
I have noticed this issue occur with YouTube Influencers a lot. Yes, this probably happens within the blogging industry, the tips below can apply to that too.
How To Avoid The ‘YouTube Made Me Buy It’ Disappointment
- Get MULTIPLE opinions on the same product
- Find non-affiliated reviews
- Is this a one-off or does the influencer ACTUALLY use it?
- Research on different platforms; magazines, blogs etc.
- Swatch makeup in a store yourself (if possible)
I always like to be honest in my reviews. After all, I write my blog to help others make informed decisions with their purchases, I will not praise a product in order to gain sponsorship from a brand. All in all, those who are broadcasting dishonest reviews are only impacting their own reputation. It may seem beneficial at the time to gain a brand deal but can actually impact their following in the long the run.
Have you had any experiences with this? Leave a comment below!
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