Just How Much Influence do Bloggers Have?
As a freelance translator and writer of sorts, I have frequently been paid for my work. However, I have never accepted to write a paid or a sponsored Bible software review. I’m not saying I have been offered money in order to write a favorable review of a certain product. In fact, this has never been the case. What I am saying is that I would never allow this to happen. The same goes for humongous amounts of complimentary copies, unlocks or whatever. I like to call a spade a spade. If I see something I like, I rave about it. If I find something I dislike, I point it out. If someone doesn’t like what I say, tough. Remember, I am not above criticism myself, and there are certainly many areas where subjective assessments do not necessarily coincide. That’s where comments, feedback, civil and reasoned rebuttals, etc. have their place. You will find that there are many different ways you can express your opinions here at Bible Software Review. But I digress.
In recent times I’ve heard individuals from different walks of life say how important it is that bloggers speak in positive terms about people, products and services. A good comment can help a lot — they say –, while a bad remark can cause quite a bit of damage. Last person I’ve seen write on this whole issue is Michael S. Hyatt, President and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, in his excellent post on Defending Your Brand Online. What he says is also applicable to Bible software companies and developers.
But how much influence do bloggers really have? I suppose the question boils down to the actual number of people who read what you have to say. I don’t know about others, but I am very happy with the faithful crowd who read BSR (and the fact that is ranked number one in search engines like Google, Yahoo, Lycos or MSN — just type bible software review, no need to use quotes), and whenever I write, I feel responsible for my recommendations and criticisms. I always want to do my best to be impartial and fair. After all, what’s good is good, no matter who says it, and what’s subpar, unclear or simply doesn’t work, needs to be exposed, with respect and in a constructive manner, but firmly. But blogs are interactive by its very nature, so comments can also have an immediate effect, as shown by this recent example. All in all, the “viral” spreading of news that takes place today over the net does have an impact to one degree or another.
So, next time you hear me praise some feature, you can be absolutely sure that I love it. Conversely, when I complain about the lack of communication from this company or that individual, or how awkward a particular implementation is, I really mean it. Whether or not this affects companies in a real way, as Michael says in his post, I don’t know for sure. I do not feel that important, to be honest. One thing I do know, though. I am committed to carrying out this task, and in the final run both users and companies will benefit from it. As we read in Proverbs 27:17a, “Iron sharpens iron.”
There is something about Bible Software Review that makes people want to have their software reviewed here. Several times I’ve even had to make clear that we are only interested in Bible software and related programs (you’d be surprised at the requests I get from time to time). This is really exciting, and I feel very honored. Unfortunately, I have to apologize for the long delay in getting out some of these reviews. This is still very much a one-person effort, much to my chagrin, and it’s difficult to keep up. I need more reviewers! There is so much more that could be done if there were more of us involved! But I digress again, though not entirely.
Coming back to the matter of influence, my personal policy is to link as much as possible, to as many products as possible, when I feel it’s relevant. This is good to help Bible software get more exposure and publicity, particularly in the case of small companies or less well-known applications. I don’t do link exchanges or things like that. Paid ads are another story. Those are not only beneficial to the company that hires them, but they also help me pay the increasing costs of hosting and other site-related expenses.
So, if you want to have your product reviewed, or wish to place an ad on this site (or blog, or forum), by all means get in touch, with the understanding that this is not going to change one bit my perception of the software The better it is, the more likely it will receive a rave review. And if you made a request a long time ago, don’t dispair. I have flagged all those messages and will eventually be getting back to you.
I’m not sure I have answered the original question of this post, but at least I hope I have contributed to what I consider to be an interesting and worthwhile discussion.