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I attended my second #gno last night and enjoyed it immensely. Hosted by Mom It Forward, #gno is a “girl’s night out” twitter event where moms all over the bloggverse get together and chat about a pre-selected topic.

Last night’s topic was about reviewing products on your blog, disclosure of payment or freebies associated with the reviews, and how to keep your own voice through the process. I found the topic very interesting. So far I’ve only “reviewed” products that my family uses, and have not contacted or been contacted by the companies associated with those products. I was interested to learn that I could approach those companies myself, if I wanted to, and once started I wouldn’t have to review anything I didn’t actually use or like if I didn’t want to.

I’ve considered the idea of doing these types of reviews before. (eventually anyway, once I’ve been blogging a bit longer) My biggest concern was always keeping to the spirit of my blog. It’s my space, my thoughts and my opinion…not something I would want controlled by anyone else. Last night the same concerns were raised by other bloggers, and the panelists agreed that those were valid concerns to have. They talked about saying no to companies or products, and keeping with the “feel” of your blog, not selling out just to get a freebie.

Companies are starting to realize that bloggers have influence in the consumer market, and the smart ones are reaching out to take advantage of that advertising. This relationship between bloggers and companies is still in the early stages for the most part. Not all companies are interested, and not all know what to do with the bloggers once they have made contact. But I think there is a lot of potential here, even at the current stage of development. Bloggers (especially mom bloggers in my opinion) can make a real difference by promoting what they find to be healthy, economical, useful and otherwise good products.

The topic of negative reviews came up as well. There were a variety of opinions, but for me personally I really connected with those who said that they were honest about products they chose to reviews, but they would contact a company about their product and any problems they found with it rather than writing a nasty or overly negative review. Companies need that feedback, and changes can be made without having to make a big fuss about it. Obviously if there is something out there that is dangerous or that a company isn’t willing to change then others need to know about it, but it’s about approach and tact. At least as far as I’m concerned.

When a negative review is called for…the power that bloggers have is immense. The networks in place between bloggers ensure that word will spread very quickly in all sorts of directions. It’s a power that should be taken seriously, and handled with care.

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