If you’re involved in, or would like to be involved in any samples campaigns from Izea’s SocialSpark, be forewarned – you could get herpes. Or mono. Or Hand, Foot and Mouth disease, strep throat, pinkeye, and/or candida.
Izea’s Social Spark Campaigns
Izea was formerly known as PayPerPost, has a “pretty sketchy history” and is no stranger to scandal. One might even surmise that they changed their name to avoid association of their new brand, Izea, with the sins of their past nom de plume, PayPerPost.
Just what is Izea and SocialSpark (and how’s it going to give you herpes)? They’re a social media marketing company, they says they, “connect advertisers with blog publishers to create sponsored blog posts.”
The basic Izea / SocialSpark transaction is that they’ll pay you, the blogger, $5 – $20 to write a blog post about one of the companies they’re working with. If you have a large audience, you can negotiate for significantly higher rates. You disclose in your post that it was a paid (aka “Sponsored” post) and fulfill any other number of requirements in the post – for example, you link to the company with a certain anchor text or share certain company-designated talking points about the product/campaign/company with your audience. The FTC is happy, the company you’re writing about is happy, SocialSpark is happy, and hopefully you’re happy too.
They also, occasionally, have sample campaigns. They send a product sample, the blogger tries the product and writes their post per the SocialSpark specifications, discloses it was sponsored, gets paid, etc.
The Germ Swapping Begins
Two such sample campaigns they’re run in the last several months have been for Revlon (they’re calling it the Revlon Expressions Experiment) and Nectress. With the Revlon Expressions Experiment, the sample box contained nail polish, lip colors, eye palettes, primer and under eye brightener. The Nectress bloggers received a full-size box of the product to try.
Redomestication.com signed up for both, received and tried the samples, and was unable to ETHICALLY write a blog post that included the required statements and talking points.
SocialSpark required that the post say positive things about the products and companies that we couldn’t, after having sampled them, say with integrity. We let the deadline for the posts pass without submitting ours. The agreement with SocialSpark didn’t include lying in our blog posts.
Several months pass, with the SocialSpark campaign manager sending out various emails reminding folks to get their posts in, even though the deadline had already passed and both jobs had been removed from our SocialSpark dashboard, so there is actually no way to submit them. And then, today, SocialSpark sent out this little gem:
Pay close attention to this line:
If you choose to pass on this campaign, you’ll need to send the makeup back to our corporate offices right away. We will need to re-send your samples to other bloggers we had to turn away for this super popular campaign to meet client deadlines. Please send to the address below:
(A second email regarding the Nectress campaign says we’d need to send that back as well).
SocialSpark will be sending used samples of food and makeup to other bloggers!
Maybe they already have.
Perhaps the samples I got were already in someone else’s home, smeared on their nasty, disease ridden face, eyes or nails… eaten by their snot-faced kids.
SocialSpark Is Willing To Expose You To Herpes, Pinkeye and Strep Throat
Aside from being disgusting, it’s dangerous.
Mouth-borne disease that can be spread from sharing food (like Nectress) and lip products (like the three included in the Revlon Expression Experiment kit) include oral herpes, mono, Hand, Foot and Mouth disease, strep throat and thrush. Pinkeye can be spread through sharing eye makeup like the palettes included in the Revlon kit.
Any bloggers signing up for either the Nectress or Revlon Expression Experiment campaigns via Izea’s SocialSpark ought to check the safety seals on their products before sampling the wares, lest they contract any of those contagens from already-used-by-who-knows-who samples.
Safest bet? Avoid the Nectress or Revlon Expression Experiment campaigns completley.
Or Maybe SocialSpark Are Just Liars & Bullies
The question still remains – does Social Spark actually intend to send used food and makeup samples to bloggers? Do they really want to get sued for someone’s lifetime Valtrex prescription?
I doubt SocialSpark is actually intending on spreading disease by re-sending used samples.
So why are they lying to bloggers and saying they are?
Are they trying to intimidate, guilt and indirectly force bloggers into writing positive reviews?
Given their history of playing fast and loose with disclosure, it’s wouldn’t be a stretch to assume so. Izea has never been a company concerned with the truth.
There’s also a threat here – that bloggers who aren’t able to comply with the campaign requirements and write things they don’t honestly believe in – will be banned from future sample campaigns.
Izea is only interested in having bloggers who are comfortable being dishonest, bloggers who don’t mind playing puppet, and bloggers who are willing to say anything for a payout, and threatening to kick out bloggers who’d like to maintain their integrity?
So Are They Disease Spreaders or Liars?
There are two possible outcomes to this situation:
1. SocialSpark is telling the truth. They will re-send samples to bloggers and spread disease. They will ban anyone from their sample campaigns who cannot ethically provide positive feedback after having tried one of their products.
2. They are lying and do not intend on sending used samples to other bloggers. They are attempting to guilt and intimidate novice bloggers into writing and publishing posts that include campaign required statements that the bloggers, after having samples the product, don’t believe in. They would prefer bloggers lie, sell themselves and the integrity of their blog, as well as the trust of their audience for a few dollars and the hopes of being included in a future campaign.
Whether publishers get pinkeye from tainted samples or are shamed into writing something they don’t believe in, these campaigns for Nectress and Revlon add to the skeletons in Izea’s already bursting closet. If they’re stupid enough to re-send used samples, one wonders how they’ve become a publicly traded company. If they don’t intend re-sending the samples, they’re just liars and bullies.