As my regular readers probably noticed by now, Monday is the day I share my most intriguing social media finds of the week.
Last week, we laughed at #BlackHogwarts posts on Twitter, imagining what it would be like if Hogwarts was predominantly Black.
But this week, I’m going to cover a more serious topic that came to my attention when a friend of mine shared a link on Facebook to an article entitled, Dublin hotel owner bans all social media influencers after ‘exposing’ one for asking for free 5-night stay.
Elle was planning a trip to Ireland when she spotted what she described as — even in her teary-eyed video talking about the scandal — “a stunning hotel”. She decided to leverage her position as a highly successful social media influencer, and proposed a partnership to the business, requesting a 5-day complimentary stay in exchange for publicity.
The hotel owner’s response?
How did people react? I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know they took the lamb to the slaughter. Elle was trolled on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as an entitled freeloader. Some bloggers, however, came to her defence; and Elle finally found the nerve to post the video below.
When the business faced criticism for the way they handled Elle’s business proposal, they responded by banning all bloggers from their cafe and hotel.
And if you think they stopped there, think again. The morning after I started working on this blog post, I woke up to find The White Moose Cafe was continuing the childish plea for publicity by sending Elle a fake invoice for the bad publicity they brought to her doorstep.
The irony in all this, is that the owner only obtained publicity from his trolling, because followers recognised that the email came from Elle.
Here are some of the lovely comments 22-year-old Elle received over the past few days.
The Blogging Industry
Many of you may disagree with the extent to which the lamb-slaughtering carried on, but may nonetheless consider Elle an entitled freeloader. Since most of my readers are fellow bloggers — from newbies to veterans — I would like to think most of you know better.
For those of you who don’t, let me explain a little about how social media, content marketing, and publicity works. Keep in mind that I own 4 blogs, and have had an active PR and content strategy practice since I was 16 years old. I am now 28.
That said, I get a lot of offers just like the one Elle sent, not just from bloggers, but from businesses just like that hotel. Most of them I delete without responding to. Others I politely decline.
A few are good enough for me to follow up on, like the amazing offer I received to stay at a Dive Club Resort in the Maldives, for 5 days. All expenses paid. All I need to do… is get there.
Partnerships like the one Elle proposed is how a lot of travel bloggers see the world, why a lot of reviewers never run out of books, how foodies get to eat at some of the best restaurants, how fashionistas get their expensive outfits — and it does wonders for those businesses.
The Value & The Work
What social media influencers offer to these companies is not freeloading. It’s called bartering. But apparently we live in an economy now driven purely by raw capital. Not only have we forgotten how to be polite to each other, we have also forgotten the value of partnership and working together.
The hotel owner should never have disclosed the email, or roasted her for asking. As a vlogger, it would not have been hard to find out who sent the email, if she had mentioned it on her social media — which she apparently had.
Any objections he had, should have been sent directly to her. That she had to find out while she was out with friends, via social media bullies, is even worse.
And if he hadn’t the slightest idea followers would have been able to recognise her, he could just have easily have left the drama alone. Instead, he’s been riding the waves of bad publicity, taking strategic steps to prolong it.
What’s even more sickening is the overwhelming support the hotel received for doing so, and the people who flocked to join their social media following.
Have we so forgotten how to be decent human beings? If this is the kind of behaviour we reward, few of us should be surprised by the kind of leaders we have today.
Elle is right in her video, when she talks about creating content, and that doing all she offered to do for the company, is not easy.
Do you guys remember that trip I took to Florida almost a month ago? Do you notice I haven’t posted anything from Florida yet?
Do you know how much work it is to go through all the images and videos? Decide which of hundreds makes the cut? Edit the ones that do? Make a content plan for how you plan to split the trip and share it? Create that vlog or blog post? And edit it? And then share?
I do it for myself, because I am as passionate about writing as I am about travel. And because I love sharing my stories with my corner of the blogosphere. But I get paid to do this for clients, too. And she was doing it for “FREE” (bartering!).
For those of us who work in the industry, and know the ins-and-outs, especially from both sides of the fence as I do, the idiot isn’t Elle. The offer she extended is a common and recommended industry practice in PR and marketing, used by big brands like Subaru, Apple, and Samsung.
Just as she implied in the video, her bullies could benefit from a PR lesson, or a marketing class. As could the hotel.
In the meantime, shutting up is an excellent alternative.
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*Featured Image Photo Credit: Elle Darby’s Twitter