"if someone is offered free products or services, it is highly unlikely that they will then write badly or not recommend said products or services."
We somewhat agree, but not true for everyone.
We've actually written quite a few stories with negative reviews about some "brands" too because we want them to improve. But sadly, most brands prefer only those "influencers" with positive thoughts about them.
This is similar to how #FakeNews flourishes because many brands work only with those who would ignore faults or connive with them to highlight only their positive attributes. They would avoid those that are too critical and honest with their reviews, and work only with those that are submissive to their intentions.
Thus we see so many praises coming from media outfits especially on TV as if all the brands they feature are perfect.
We believe that eventhough most brands would pamper us with so many perks and privileges in the form of free or complimentary gifts or tokens, we should not be afraid to point out what we don't like about them. In short, we should tell the truth even if it hurts them.
We should rather risk losing clients, or so called friends, than gain a reputation of being a dishonest reviewer and a conniving prick to our followers.
However, be wary of a counter-attack from the brand through their gang of "misfit influencers" who are ready to do the the brand's bidding.
I was shocked the first time I encountered a brand that employs influencers to purposely spread negative news about their competitors. This is what we also know now as #FakeNews because anything that was budgeted to be highly noticeable, trending or viral could be considered as fake news because their manner of standing out was not natural.
These "call center" acts intended to give a brand an unfair advantage over everyone else is legally known as among the popular marketing tactics. So whoever has the money or biggest control over influencers (trad or new media) would seem to be the most popular brand.
All those huge billboards, print or online ads, TV or radio commercials, celebrity endorsers, etc., should not equate to the effectiveness of a brand...However, it brainwashes people to unconsciously choose or patronize the brand, and the ones with less marketing budget eventually goes bankrupt.
So it is false to say online influencers do not really influence anybody. They are all part of the grand scheme of marketing. Only disgruntled trad media who are losing their share of the clients, or advertisers, would dare say similar statements.
We must accept the reality that online media is now the most preferred and highly working form of information dissemination and most effective marketing strategy. Thus online influencers are now the kings and queens of the world! But unlike the Titanic, they won't sink when they hit an iceberg. They would just evolve with what's trending, just as how trad media has started to embrace online as part of their offerings.
Who knows when exactly everything would finally be all online? But what's sure is that online will be on the top.
This is why there are so much talk about #FakeNews because it is undoubtedly working regardless of how much the affected would try to expose it.
The gullible will easily eat up every fake news out there because almost everything could also be considered fake no matter how legit they may seem.