Regular readers of this blog will remember that way back in the day, I wrote this anonymously. Quickly (ish) realising that I’d never get any decent information that way, I had to have a rethink. In the intervening period however, I was outed twice – once by a social media specialist agency who decided to put a video on YouTube of an event that I attended and secondly, and deliberately, by another journalist in an online publication. Once I phoned the editor of the online publication, she was horrified and did what she could to rectify the situation. The social media agency, on the other hand, were less than impressed at my reluctance to be on YouTube and while they did take the video down, I’ve clearly been relegated to persona non grata and never been invited to anything they’ve done since. Like I could care, by the way. Nowadays, I don’t really make any attempts to be anonymous. I work in the beauty industry as a writer so what could be more natural than to have a blog as an extension of that? What wouldn’t be so natural of course, would be if I was for example, a lawyer, an accountant, a nurse, a doctor, a detective or a police officer. Most beauty bloggers are just regular folks with regular jobs who blog about their passion as a hobby. Again, most beauty bloggers and some YouTube reviewers use pseudonyms to protect their identity. You don’t necessarily want to be going for a high powered job and your prospective employers Google you (an increasing practice) and you turn up extolling the virtues of the latest Benefit lipstick. Your professional personae and your private personae are immediately bound together, thanks to the Google machine, in a way that may well not be in your best interests. And this is exactly what’s happened to several You Tube reviewers and bloggers, causing untold upset. One You Tube reviewer has had to go the extreme lengths of closing her (extremely popular) channel thanks to a social media agency using her full name on a website set up on behalf of a beauty client. Everytime someone Googles her full name, what pops up? Her You Tube channel. Google owns You Tube, so it is prioritised in listings. The agency listed every other invitee by their pseudonyms and a clunking error in data processing meant she was the only one listed by her real and full name.
Other bloggers who attended the same event have found their photographs on the website and there is a general air of having been taken for a ride. Now the social media agency looks fantastic to their client at the expense of people who love beauty. Tempted by offers of high street vouchers, they pitched up to view the products, not realising they were merely fulfilling a client brief for an agency that wants more work from the client.
The person in question, who wants to remain anonymous, was treated with something near contempt in her attempts to get the agency to rectify the situation, and in the end had to turn to the press office to force any action. The situation wasn’t closely monitored by the press office, and she was made to feel that as ‘only a blogger’ their time was far too important to spend on a mere detail. My blood boils. I know who it is…it’s only out of respect to the You Tuber in question, who still feels intimidated by the whole experience, that I’m not naming and shaming.
Time and time again, I have said on this blog that the responsibility to behave ethically lies with those who have the most experience. Bloggers usually do not have experience dealing with media issues and are a very easy target for those companies anxious to get on the social media bandwagon. Outsourcing to ‘specialist’ agencies removes the client from their responsibilities. How any UK new media agency can be called, at this early stage in development, ‘experts’ I don’t know. We are all still exploring this new way of reaching out.
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Being tripped up is something bloggers are just going to have to get used to; in time, they’ll learn. But in the meantime, take it as a salutory warning that if you don’t want your personal life and your professional life to collide on Google, you’ll take extra care.
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