Blogger responsibility and KFCkidsmeals

I have been watching the conversations in regards to this weekend’s #kfckidsmeals on Twitter and in blog posts watching the drama unfold as women promoted kids meals by KFC and several people used the hashtag to question the nutrition of the meals.

That can be said as a nice way of saying how it went down.

I’ve watched over and over as popular hashtags were taken over by spam, but this time, it was a smaller hashtag that became the arena for controversy and made it trend on Twitter.

People used the hastag to get KFC’s attention and question the use of chemicals including MSG in their products.

I watched people get mad over not being supported by other mom bloggers, feel bullied, and watched the brand not step in and say a thing.

So now, the conversations are spreading from the definition of bullying to the responsibility of influencers and the role of bloggers when working with brands trying to send out a specific message.

I had it pointed out today that none of the tweets said by a #KFCkidsmeals blogger said the meals were healthy choices after I mentioned that’s what I got from it. You know what, they were right.

Then why did I have that as a takeaway from following the Twitter stream?

Here’s why.

@RealMomReviews KFC kids meals start at 210 calories! That’s less than 4 Oreo cookies! #kfckidsmeals (link)

@VeraSweeney We all have night where we order fast food. Good to know KFC has options at 210 calories for kids #kfckidsmeals (link)

Even the Center for Disease Control mentions calorie counting as a means of weight management. The last time I went to my doctor, he mentioned my weight and told me to cut back on calories and gave me a ridiculous number because I was there for a pregnancy test.

He didn’t ask me what I was eating, how much I exercised, just handed off that piece of information. So my takeaway from that would be- I need to eat less calories to be healthier.

For many people, calorie counting is the first thing they think of when it comes to eating healthy. Diet snacks, soda, meal replacements to lose weight, the common thought is you have to use more calories than you consume. So they replace the things they love with low-calorie options.

So that meal- Only 210 calories? that’s a good choice, right? And look, there’s green beans!

Just with a picture and a statement I had an observation from those tweets; it told me that this is a good choice for my kid because it is low-calorie and look! a fruit, a vegetable and something with the word ‘waters on it’. No soda, no fries.

Now, what was the bloggers actually trying to say? Were they just regurgitating information given to them, or did they mean to say, as I took it, that these are good choices to make, that these are healthier choices you can make when faced with a drive-thru dinner menu.

Last October I took my morning sickness self to Coca-Cola for an event that was to feature their Live Positively campaign and talk nutrition (and see the Coca Cola Museum- I love classic Americana stuff).

Now, along with being shocked that they would pick lil’ ol me, I did some thinking before I said yes. It was a soda company- something that I have a long history with but try to drink less of (it’s not in the house except party occasions) and I have definite feelings on it and my son.

As the event drew closer I decided I had said yes for some serious reasons.

First- I felt honored someone would pay my way to sit in a room and learn about them. Second- I was in a group of fabulous women and I wanted a chance to learn from them. Third- I wanted to hear what they had to say.

Yes- a soda company, available in over 200 countries and one of the most recognizable words ever- I wanted to see what they would tell me.

As I sat in the conference room that day, I thought about how I felt obligated to repeat the nice things they had to say about their products.

I understand a blogger’s desire to please a brand- you don’t accept an invitation and then blast them the entire event- but also, as a blogger, social media influencer and mom- was just repeating what they said my job as an ‘influencer’ attending an event?

You know, those little gems of information that send a group of bloggers typing and tweeting away? I’ve done that plenty of times.

Let’s go back to those tweets and point out neither said it was a ‘good’ choice’ or a ‘healthy’ choice. They didn’t state that it was good choices, but by just regurgitating that key piece of information, they implied that it was a good choice to make.

I’ve thought a lot about my choices blogging since that October trip. About how I make choices, why I make choices, and what choices I can live with when it comes to my online life.

I don’t see myself as a ‘brand’. I see myself as a person, and know that as a person I am responsible for what I put out in the world. And for those reasons my blogging has definitely changed, as also the choices in companies I make with it.

I watched bloggers feel attacked after several people started using the hashtag to question the chemicals used in KFC food- neutralizing any good PR attempts from it regarding GoSqueez additions and calorie counts.

Are bloggers responsible for supporting each other? No.

Should they try to? Yes.

Was this weekend’s events bullying? No. Just because there was disagreement and commentary about how other bloggers negatively viewed their choices for aligning with KFC, that was not bullying.

Blogging is a business, and even though a lot of the work with brands seems to be done with mom bloggers, because it is an arena dominated by women does not mean they have to play nice.

The bloggers who decided to go to KFC- for whatever reasons, free trip, education, a chance to grow themselves a little bigger- unfortunately also found themselves in a position where they felt they had to defend their integrity. Could they support a company they admit to using only occasionally? Could they stand behind their words and say they approved that choice for a last minute dinner?

Did they deserve to come in between the crossfire of health-minded opinionated people and a brand who stood by and watched them take it?

It was their choice to align with the company and be a voice for it- they had placed themselves on the brand’s side instead of a neutral point somewhere in the middle where I sat, watching my little iPhone screen.

The choices we make affect our integrity, our ‘brands’, our blogs, ourselves. If you choose to work with a company and be a spokesperson, even if it’s just for 2 hours at a party, be mindful you are aligned with that brand and make sure you’ve made the decision for the right reason.

Remember that what you put out there is forever, so choose carefully.

For more about the bloggers discussion about KFC search for #kfckidsmeals on Twitter.

2 comments for “Blogger responsibility and KFCkidsmeals

  1. March 25, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    It absolutely gives us insight into the integrity of a blogger when he/she aligns themselves with a questionable brand. In this instance they aligned themselves with a company that is causing HARM to children with their toxic food. We have every right to ask why they would use their influence to help a crap company push their crap products on kids. With great power comes great responsibility right? Well bloggers have influence and it is maddening to see it be used in a way that can hurt children. It is not bullying to call them out for this.

  2. April 2, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Whew! Lots of food for thought here. Appreciated you sharing your insight on this hot topic. I work full time, and only blog “part time”, so I’m not in the thick of this kind of action. I really enjoy blogging, but have not yet done alot of work with brands (although I did get to meet you at #CCLP – yay!). You’ve made some great points as to approaching advocacy relationships with caution, that I will definitely keep in mind in the future.

    Really enjoy your site! :)

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