There’s an ongoing discussion on the “authenticity of influencer marketing” following a social media fallout between a hotel in Dublin, Ireland, and a 22-year old YouTuber.
It all started when the UK-based YouTuber Elle Darby wrote to the owner of The White Moose Café, Paul Stenson, asking for a “possible collaboration.”
Darby, in her letter to the hotel said: “I work as a social media influencer, mainly lifestyle, beauty & travel based.”
Darby, who had 87,000 YouTube subscribers and 76,000 Instagram followers, included her social media reach in the letter. She added:
My partner and I are planning to come to Dublin for an early Valentine’s Day weekend from Feb 8th to 12th to explore the area. As I was searching for places to stay, I came across your stunning hotel and would love to feature you in my YouTube videos/dedicated Instagram stories/posts to bring traffic to your hotel and recommend others to book up in return for free accommodation.
Dear Social Influencer (I know your name but apparently it’s not important to use names),
Thank you for your email looking for free accommodation in return for exposure. It takes a lot of balls to send an email like that, if not much self-respect and dignity.
If I let you stay here in return for a feature in your video, who is going to pay the staff who look after you? Who is going to pay the housekeepers who clean your room? The waiters who serve you breakfast? The receptionist who checks you in? Who is going to pay for the light and heat you use during your stay? The laundering of your bed sheets? The water rates? Maybe I should tell my staff they will be featured in your video in lieu of receiving payment for work carried out while you’re in residence?
Lucky for us, we too have a significant social media following. We have 186k followers on our two Facebook pages, an estimated 80k on our Snapchat, 32k on Instagram and a paltry 12k on our Twitter, but Jesus Christ, I would never in a million years ask anyone for anything for free. I also blog a bit (www.paulvstenson.com), which as far as I’m aware is another way of saying “write stuff on the internet”. The above stats do not make me any better than anyone else or afford me the right to not pay for something everyone else has to pay for.
In future, I’d advise you to offer to pay your way like everyone else, and if the hotel in question believes your coverage will help them, maybe they’ll give you a complimentary upgrade to a suite. This would show more self-respect on your part and, let’s face it, it would be less embarrassing for you. Here is a little video I produced which you may learn from: http://bit.ly/2mKTDTD
P.S. The answer is no.
While Stenson did not put Darby’s name in his response, social media users found a way to identify her as the person he was talking about, and started bombarding her with negative comments.
Darby, in response to the comments, uploaded a video to YouTube, broke down, lamenting the embarrassment, anger, and resentment she felt.
In the video titled “I was exposed (SO embarrassing), Darby said she got in contact with Stenson with “nothing but the purest intentions”.
“As a 22-year-old girl, who’s running her own business from her home, I don’t feel like I did anything wrong,” she said, wondering why Stenson posted his response to Facebook.
“I don’t really know what their intent was – it was just malicious” she said, adding that she has received countless comments calling her a “disgusting freeloader.”
Watch video below:
After the video, Stenson and his hotel faced their own backlash, which he reacted to by saying, in all caps: “ALL BLOGGERS BANNED FROM OUR BUSINESS”.
ALL BLOGGERS BANNED FROM OUR BUSINESS pic.twitter.com/DQVjAtDnW8
— White Moose Cafe (@whitemoosecafe) January 17, 2018
The hotel, on its official Snapchat account also said that the controversy “puts into question the authenticity of influencer marketing,” because Darby “would have spoken nicely about the hotel only because she was getting it for free.”
As expected, people have been taking sides with both parties and the discussion has been trending for days with the hashtag – #BloggerGate.
Stenson released a sarcastic “apology” on his hotel’s Facebook page.
“I am so sorry that I have waited until now to mobilise you (bloggers) in numbers and I am kicking myself that I didn’t think about you before now….. You are a much more lucrative group of people to piss off than the vegans and the gluten intolerant combined,” he said.
Stenson recognises the publicity this discussion has given his business, and he, in a Facebook post, thanked bloggers for making it happen.
He ended his post with “P.S: You’re still barred.”
BNers, what are your thoughts?