Working online as a blogger and a virtual assistant, previously as a social media manager rolled into blogger outreach and PR, I spend a lot of time online. There is no physical office that I walk into, no colleagues to chat to and no guidance from management.
Trust is a huge thing, my clients have to trust that I am using my time effectively to get their work done in a time frame where I’m not charging them for hours that aren’t needed.
As a blogger, I have to trust that the PR companies and SEO agencies are going to pay me after I have published my post for them. The PR companies have to trust that I will publish a post after receiving an item to review.
There are so many groups and pods on social media that you can go to for advice and a couple of Instagram pods and a Facebook group that I go to daily. Over the past year, we have become more that just liking and commenting on each others posts and have become the friends and colleagues that we don’t see. We don’t only talk about blog related topics anymore, we have become a safe place for us to discuss our home lives, to be able to vent or get support from someone that doesn’t know everything about you and doesn’t know any of your family and friends but can just listen or when asked offer objective support.
Quite recently, one of these groups was betrayed. A member within the group, screenshot a private conversation, took it out of context and messaged it to someone else. Imagine sitting in an office of 18 people, knowing one of them betrayed someone else in the group, imagine sitting at home, thinking the exact same thing. Our safe place had been tainted.
Last month, Suzanne from and another ten things wrote about being contacted over Twitter to judge a local event for charity. After agreeing and a few communication issues she got suspicious and contacted the charity in question. The charity said they weren’t running this event, it was a hoax, completely made up by this man who contacted her. I dread to think what could have happened to her if she hadn’t realised and had gone to meet him.
In my old job we received emails of blogger and journalist requests. One a couple of months ago was a blogger organising prizes for a charity event to raise awareness of cervical cancer and the proceeds going to Cancer Research. I got in touch with her and offered her a £50 voucher for the event on the day and a discount code for her blog post about it. She was great with communication up to the point of receiving the voucher. She didn’t send me the link to the blog post, I had to keep emailing and when she did finally send it to me she hadn’t put the discount code in it and didn’t really mention much about the event but listed the companies that had sent her prizes. She did say the event went well and voucher raffled off. This same blogger then suddenly appeared in lots of groups offering brand opportunities, I had a look at her site and she seemed to be asking people to guest post and acting as blogger outreach for companies. I was intrigued and signed up for emails. One of the first emails I received was offering bloggers monthly prizes if they displayed her badge on their site, there were 3 prizes for March including the £50 voucher we had donated for the charity event! Now, I wondered if she was lying to her email contacts in an attempt to get her badge displayed everywhere and that maybe she would never announce the winner. She did announce the winner, she used a voucher that was given for a charity event for her own gain in a private giveaway. Apart from the complete moral wrong doing she has done exactly what so many small companies worry about when working with bloggers, she has broken the trust, she has disgraced the reputation of bloggers as well as virtual assistants and blogger outreach.
How much can you really trust online when you are going from someone’s written word?