I accepted an invitation to attend an event in exchange for sharing my experience through my various social media accounts. It’s something I never would’ve done when I worked for a news organization.
Journalists have to decline such invitations because readers might criticize positive coverage that could be perceived as quid pro quo. It feels great to accept the invitation and just say publicly that I’m doing this because I’m getting in free. It will also be nice to just have a good time without worrying about turning in an article or column.
When you see my tweets, Facebook updates and Instagram photos from #ScaryFarm later this month, know that I’m doing it because I was asked to by Knott’s Berry Farm, an amusement park in Buena Park, California.
But who am I kidding? I’ll be sharing my experience because I tweet when I’m at live events. That’s just what I do. And I enjoy using Instagram and Facebook to share pictures and pose questions.
By the way, I’m already biased. I first attended Knott’s Scary Farm when I was in junior high, and have gone many times since. I visited Knott’s frequently when I was in high school and my friends worked there. I had a great time when the O.C. Register held a 100-year anniversary celebration there a few years back.
Knott’s didn’t ask me to share only my positive comments about Scary Farm. I probably would’ve turned down the invitation if they had made such a request. It’s the right way to bring social “influencers” into a company’s marketing efforts. First, make sure the product, service, or event is good. Then, invite people to share honestly.
That said, I won’t hesitate to share any negative “news” if it happens when I’m there. But take a look at my previous social media posts. I don’t complain about long lines. I don’t talk smack about how “the guy in front of me just did such and such.” I don’t spout off about singularly poor customer service experiences.
Before I sign off, here is a picture of my friends Calvin Lee, Debbie Miller and Darin McClure at a similar Knott’s Berry Farm event last year. I’m adding it here just because they are my friends. How is that for bias?
— Calvin Lee (@mayhemstudios) October 13, 2013