Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tomoson Review from a Blogger's Perspective: Why I Do Not Recommend Tomoson

I think I'm finally done with Tomoson.

Tomoson, for those who aren't familiar, is a brand/blog platform which allows bloggers to receive free products in exchanged for an unbiased opinion—which in turn provides businesses with a chance to gain exposure and increase product sales.


It sounds pretty great, right?

Well, at first it seemed that way to me, too. Probably because it just made sense. Connect businesses and bloggers, send products to test and keep, and provide exposure for the business. Simple enough.

Unfortunately, it really isn't that simple. In fact, it's actually quite a mess.


After a year of experience with Tomoson, I have come to the conclusion that the platform needs a huge overhaul. The amount of work that Tomoson needs is so great that it would ultimately be an entirely different website once all of the kinks are worked out.


The Good, The Bad, and The Very Ugly

I want everyone to be aware that Tomoson wasn't all bad. When I first signed up, I believed it to be a wonderful platform—well, at least the idea was wonderful. Anyway, I really enjoyed it at first. I don't want readers to assume that I'm writing Tomoson off as a total failure. It's not a total failure, but it has failed to reach my expectations. However, there was some good at Tomoson, which is what I will touch on first.

The Good


My very first experience with Tomoson was a pleasant one. I applied to review a Spanish speaking program for kids and the program was rather enjoyable, for both my son and me. It was colorful and interactive—a great program overall, as reflected in my review.

The company was so impressed with my review that they send me a personal thank you. That, to me, was incredibly satisfying and gave me the feeling that Tomoson had promise. I continued to explore Tomoson after this pleasant experience.


Over the next several months, I had the chance to try even more fantastic products. I had the chance to build relationships with brands outside of the platform, many of whom I still work with today.

Obviously, there was some good that came out of Tomoson and for that, I am grateful.


The Bad


Unfortunately, the negative experiences that I would have in the future would far surpass the positive ones. Below, you'll find a rather long list featuring the negative aspects of the Tomoson platform.



1. No Screening Process


On Tomoson, there is absolutely no screening process for bloggers. Because of this, almost anyone can get in. While this may seem like a godsend to bloggers who are just starting out, it can also cause a lot of problems.

The lack of screening is a nightmare for bloggers who actually do what is required of them on Tomoson. Allowing anyone in means that bloggers who actually care about their reviews are placed with low-quality bloggers and con-artists just looking to get something for free. This reflects poorly on those of us who are trying to actually make a difference for the companies.

To get an idea of what businesses thought of Tomoson bloggers, I did a little research. What I found was a little embarrassing.


2. Businesses Seem to Think Negatively of Bloggers on Tomoson


Some businesses have taken the time out to write about their experience with Tomoson. While some companies have had positive experiences, others have discussed the not-so-pretty side of Tomoson. Check out some of the excerpts below from websites and forum discussions.

From Go In Flow:

Tomoson lets anyone with a blog join their service, so the quality of the blogs are what you’d expect. There are a lot of low-quality product reviewer and mommy blogs – the kinds of sites created for the sole purpose of getting free products instead of benefiting the readers.There are also a ton of blogspot.com throwaway blogs. I’m not saying all Blogspot blogs are throwaway blogs. There are many great blogs on Blogspot. I’m just saying that people create low-quality websites on Blogspot (or WordPress, Weebly, etc.) and use them to get free products through Tomoson. Google has actually targeted these free open platforms for penalizations in their algorithm updates due to the amount of low-quality blogs living in these systems, even their own Blogspot platform.Since anyone can apply to Tomoson, it’s really up to you to choose who gets to review your products. You aren’t forced to give your product away to crappy websites.

Most of the reviews were pretty short, which I think was due to the short 3-week time limit. They were all also very approving of the product. I should be happy with that, but I really wanted honest reviews with at least some criticism or suggestions of how the product could be better. I would have felt like it was more truthful that way. I’m sure our client doesn’t mind all the praise though.

After reading reviews from a business perspective, I understand why they feel this way. I have personally seen Tomoson bloggers write three-sentence reviews with repulsive spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Check out the following review from yet another business.


Awful experiences with Tomoson reviews. Many Tomoson reviewers left junk reviews, could hardly spell, some returned the free product for a full refund (somehow). This is on top of perhaps the worst interface I've seen on any of these sites. Its a mess.
Unfortunately, the good bloggers suffer because of the bad bloggers. Without a screening process, all bloggers (no matter what their reach or quality) is simply considered a "bad bunch."

Some businesses also seem to think that Tomoson is flat out useless and spammy. 


We used Tomoson and had a horrible experience with it and will never use it again. They will spam the crap out of your email now and refuse to remove you from email lists. You have a 50/50 shot or worse of actually getting a review to show up and someone not just getting free product. Whatever review you do get will most likely not yield anything for you. Tomoson is a terrible company that you should stay away from.

I feel that there should be some kind of application process or quality assessment. Perhaps bloggers could link to previous reviews and someone from Tomoson would decide whether or not their reviews are up to par. Bloggers should be providing original, quality reviews, not just regurgitated information from a company's product page.

The fact that businesses seem to think that the majority of Tomoson bloggers are greedy, poor-quality reviewers leads me to believe that Tomoson just doesn't really care. In my opinion, they seem to be about their bottom line and nothing more. These businesses pay them—and the more bloggers they have, the more money they're inclined to make—so maybe they really don't care that there are hundreds of low-quality bloggers in their midst?


3. System is Glitchy


This seems to be the "hot" issue among Tomoson bloggers.

Not only is the design of the platform generic and cheesy, it just doesn't work. Well, it works sometimes—but sometimes is not enough, especially when you expect bloggers to meet deadlines!

Linking social media accounts is a royal pain. The stats do not update automatically, so if you receive a wave of new followers, you must go into the platform, disconnect your social media, then reconnect it to reflect the newest stats. Sometimes, your social media will disconnect on its own accord!

Another major issue is that there is no option to delete old messages, applications, or reviews that have been completed. That means that bloggers are left with hundreds of messages, review applications, and old reviews just sitting on their dashboard. It is ridiculously unorganized.

Tomoson has stated that they will eventually fix it, but also mentioned that it is "not broken" like some other things on the site.

Finally, Tomoson recently rolled out an update in 2015 and it has led to dozens of complaints.


While Tomoson didn't respond to these concerns, they had no problem arguing and spouting rude, condescending words several days before. Read the next section to see what I mean.


The Very Ugly

While you may think that the above tidbits are bad enough, trust me: It gets worse.



When it comes to Tomoson's interaction with bloggers, their favoritism for businesses, and their lack of support, it gets pretty darn ugly.


1. Tomoson Treats Their Bloggers Poorly


Most of the complaints that I have heard from other bloggers is that Tomoson treats businesses better than bloggers—even when businesses engage in unethical practices or violates Tomoson's terms.

Tomoson also seems to shun "small-time" bloggers (bloggers without a significant reach) instead of providing support and tools to help them grow their audience.

In one instance, a blogger complained about the platform and specifically mentioned that businesses very rarely respond to her messages. So, how did Tomoson respond?


Disgusting, isn't it?

This condescending tone is seen throughout Tomoson's replies on Facebook. At one point, the person behind Tomoson's Facebook page stated that he/she "likes to argue." If that's not poor quality customer service, then I'm not sure what is.

In another incident, Tomoson posts an article regarding how to disclose sponsored ads on your blog. One of the bloggers disagreed with the article (which stated you could use an image to disclose sponsored ads) and said that disclosures must be written.

While I believe that she was incorrect, the way Tomoson responded was completely uncalled for. Again, the tone was condescending.


Tomoson still failed to see what they were doing wrong, and continued to argue as opposed to provide gentle guidance.

At this point, I am no longer surprised when I see Tomoson's response on their Facebook page. It seems to be "their thing" to show patronizing superiority over the bloggers—it seems that Tomoson has forgotten that the bloggers make the platform what it is and without us, Tomoson would fall.

Shame on Tomoson for allowing this.


2. Tomoson Support Sucks 


There seem to be mixed reviews regarding Tomoson's support. Obviously, the majority seems to agree that whoever is behind the Facebook page needs to go, but when it comes to their messaging service, the opinions are divided.

Some people feel that the team answers their questions and resolves issues in a timely manner.

Me, on the other hand, well, I feel that Tomoson's support leaves much to be desired.

Tomoson needs a Customer Support 101 class.

Tomoson's lack of support is one of the worst parts of the platform.

Now, I typically contact the business directly if I have an issue and leave Tomoson out of it. Sometimes, however, businesses refuse to acknowledge that a message was even sent. In one instance, I had contacted a business several times regarding the whereabouts of a product that was supposed to be sent to my giveaway winner. Because they failed to respond, I contacted Tomoson, hoping that they would back me up.

Sadly, I was wrong.

I received the following response:


In other words, Tomoson says, "Take it up with the business." This approach shows that Tomoson has absolutely no control over what businesses do or don't do on their platform.

After attempting to contact the business again to no avail, I contacted Tomoson a final time and received this response:





The part that ticked me off the most was this:

But it is already in the business discretion when they send prizes to the blogger's contest winners since it is their responsibility to send the product. The reason why running a contest is optional for bloggers.
I'm not sure exactly what she is trying to say, but to me it sounds like this, "If you expect products to be shipped to winners within a specified time period, then don't agree to host a giveaway."

I put far too much time, effort, and heart into my reviews written for Tomoson to be told that no one has my back; that I'm "on my own." This is what bothers me the most. There is absolutely no support and no safety net to catch you if a company screws you over.

And that brings me to my next point...


3. Companies Don't Always Hold Up Their End of The Bargain


This is what led me to write this post.

I participated in a campaign, wrote a review, and hosted a giveaway for the product. A month after the giveaway ended, I followed up with my winner to make sure that she had received her prize. To my dismay, she had not.

After apologizing, I attempted to contact the company who later sent me a claim code to give to her so that she could purchase the product on Amazon for free. Now, this is not the way I typically do things. Products should always be sent directly to the winner.

Since I hadn't disclosed this beforehand and since my winner was getting impatient, I decided that I'd better just go ahead, send the code, and let her order her prize before any other issues came up.

Unfortunately, more issues arose.

The code was invalid. The company sent a new one. By the time my winner was able to redeem it, the company's stock had been depleted.

Well, as it turns out, the code was invalid. The company then sent a new one, but by the time the winner was able to redeem it, the company's stock was depleted.

I contacted the business several times after this and didn't receive a response until three weeks later. By this time, I had already resolved the issue on my own. I sent my winner a similar product and refunded the difference in price of the product she was supposed to receive. I spent money out of my own pocket to fix a mistake that Tomoson seems to allow, based on their response to my email (as you read in the "Tomoson Support Sucks" section).


4. Companies sometimes ask you to pay to review their product.


First of all, this makes absolutely no sense. Bloggers should not be required to pay a company to promote a product. I don't care if I'm receiving the product at a "deep discount" or "only for a penny." I do not pay to review products because the product is my compensation.

Now, I'm not sure if companies are just blissfully unaware or just ignorant to the fact that the IRS requires bloggers to claim all products that they receive for free in exchange for reviews. That means that for every item we receive to review, we PAY TAXES on it at the end of the year. These products are considered compensation for the review. It is insulting to ask a blogger to pay you to promote your product.

After numerous blogger complaints about this, you'd think that Tomoson would crack down on companies who participate in these practices, right?

Wrong. Instead, Tomoson responded by allowing companies to charge for shipping on products without reimbursement, as long as it is disclosed prior to bloggers applying.


5. Oblivious Businesses



From time to time, I will come across a company that seems dead set on taking advantage of bloggers instead of working with them to gain exposure. You see, Tomoson has a system set in place which allows bloggers to request a specific amount of compensation for their reviews.

Some businesses don't like this practice. They think that it is "ridiculous" that a blogger would ask for payment for a review. What they don't understand is that reviews require work. As a matter of fact, here on Freelance Lady, I charge $25 for a sponsored post—and quality companies are almost always willing to pay this amount (and that's without a product to review). For product reviews, I do not charge as long as the product is worth $25 or more because the product is my compensation.

On Tomoson, I will come across an item worth $5 and the company expects you to write a review on your blog, write a review on Amazon, post a YouTube video, share an image on Instagram, post a Facebook status update, Tweet about the product, and give up your right arm—all for a product worth $5! A product worth only $5 is not even close to being worth the time and effort that goes into facilitating these reviews—and companies wonder why their reviews are often short and low-quality.

Sometimes, companies will even ask you to share their Amazon Affiliate links so that when one of your readers clicks on the link, the company earns a commission. I'm not sure whether or not this is against Tomoson's terms, but if it's not, it should be.



The Last Straw

Tomoson has caused me to get into situations with businesses that reflect poorly on my blog, and I cannot have that. If Tomoson offered better support for bloggers and held businesses accountable when they "got over" on bloggers, then I would be more inclined to recommend them.

However, it seems that they have only gotten worse over the past several months, which is why I felt compelled to write this article.

The Laughing Stock of The Blog World

Sadly, Tomoson has become somewhat of the "laughing stock" of brand/blog platforms. I have, on numerous occasions, heard bloggers say things like, "Well, if you know a blogger who is terrible at product reviews, then send her over to Tomoson!" and "Her blog sucks. Send her to Tomoson."

It is sad, but that in itself says a great deal about the business.

I'm debating on whether or not I'm going to stick around to see where Tomoson is headed. As much as I want to give the company the benefit of the doubt, I feel that I have given them far too many chances to get it right—and they always fall short.

It's only a matter of time before another company comes along and blows Tomoson right out of the water.

What are your experiences with Tomoson? Let me know what you think!




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32 comments:

  1. I feel the same way about Tomoson. I reviewed two products. Verified my blog posts. And then my account was suspended. No communications from Tomoson "support" have been received when I've questioned why it was suspended. The companies had responded to me and were satisfied with my reviews.

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    1. the same thing happened to me for no reason my account was suspended and they will not say why at all the only company that I actually got to review a product from said they are having issues with Tomoson and that if I was willing to review their products then we would work together directly without Tomoson also If you know of any other companies that are like Tomoson please let me know thank you for your blog

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    2. Please let me know too, I'm going through a nightmare of them just bullying me to no end. It's just sick :-(

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    3. same here, they never answer questions, all they do robotically is make threats and undo completed reviews.

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    4. I would suggest that everyone here makes a review of Tomoson, citing their personal experience with the company. That way, more people will be aware of what's going on at Tomoson and hopefully, will push Tomoson to make changes and replace their current customer service staff.

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  2. I have not done anything for them in sometime because of business's not holding up their end of things. I have been flabbergasted recently at the amount of junk in my inbox asking me to pay for a product to review. Of course it is being offered at "A great discount", I am sorry you want me to Pay to work? Not going to happen.

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    1. Ugh! I can't stand when companies ask me to PAY to review their product.

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  3. I'm so glad I read this. I've had these experiences. I have a food blog with very high quality traffic, recipes, photographs, very ever green. I was asked to give my price for a youtube video for a cocktail. I did, never received any answer at all. This week I was invited to apply for two separate kitchen gadgets each for $200. I said yes, then was asked to just combine both in same post for $200. That felt cheesy to me and disrespectful. I have had only amazing experiences with my other companies I work with so my gut told me to say no. I just up'd my minimum to $350. I doubt I'll hear anything from them ever again and that's fine by me.

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    1. Never sell yourself short, Angela. Half the time, the Tomoson products aren't even worth it anyway.

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  4. Good feedback, as someone new to Tomoson, it's very good to know what to watch out for. My question is this... is there a place where legitimately good people who care about the products and will do a darn good job at writing honest reviews can do as a substitute for Tomoson? If you have a suggestion, I'd love to hear it!

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    1. there is brandbacker and buview but there too far an in between with getting products, i recommend pitching companies, it takes more work but at least it is work.

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    2. Dennis, I highly recommend pitching companies directly. That way, there is no middle man, so it's you and the brand discussing terms, pricing, products, etc. I've written a post on pitching, which you can find here: http://www.freelancelady.com/2014/10/bloggers-what-you-need-to-know-before.html and here is a list of blogger networks where you can get sponsored posts and products: http://www.productreviewmom.com/2013/11/how-to-become-product-review-blogger.html

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  5. Wow, what a crappy company, I'm glad to know it's not just me. Hey if I start a fb group called Tomoson Robot Fail, would you guys join? Better names are welcome, I just thought of them as failing robots with the same incompetent response to every question.

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    1. I would join, Roxanna, as long as the criticism was constructive and not just flat out bashing the company. Together, we can make a difference!

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  6. I had the same bad issues but i was not a beginner, i felt so used and abused, i gave two bad reviews which were completely honest and next i knew i was on the outside looking in, there charging people now!

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    1. The last time I logged in to Tomoson, I was appalled at the low-quality products they were offering.

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  7. I want to cancel out but I do NOT see anywhere I can cancel. I have emailed 3 times, to no avail. Really I just want to stop the spam I am getting in my inbox. I do not pay to review a product and this platform isn't for me, why can't I just cancel...the terms state how to do it, yet the instructions do not match the website and options as a Blogger. Very frustrating.

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    1. Julie, I had the same issue. I still haven't figured out how to close my account, but I have figured out how to stop getting emails. I had to figure it out on my own because their customer service is totally inadequate. Just click on the down arrow next to your image in the upper right hand corner and then click "Email Settings." From there, you can uncheck all of the boxes to stop getting emails.

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  8. I have to say I have had all positive experiences with Tomoson. I have been working with them for about 8 months now. Sure I have some issues, but they have been able to resolve them. For some of the products I don't mind paying a few dollars for it. Everything I apply to review are all products that I am interested in or would buy myself, so if I can get it deeply discounted I am all for it.
    The only problem I have had is that Amazon banned me from doing anymore reviews for them. That makes a huge difference when I already had promotions that required an Amazon verification. Tomoson worked with me and the companies to fix that. I did start doing reviews under my husband's account so I have kind of fixed the Amazon review issues. When I contacted Amazon I got a generic reply saying I violated the terms. I would say I had a worse experience with Amazon.
    Overall I have really liked working with Tomoson and have gotten other blog friends to start reviewing products, too.

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    1. Stephanie, I'm happy that you have enjoyed a positive experience with Tomoson.

      As far as the Amazon reviews go, that's because Amazon does not allow reviews they deem biased. If you're not including a disclosure in your reviews, then you're violating their terms. If you're writing only positive reviews on products and not providing any type of constructive criticism, Amazon becomes suspicious.

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  9. I recognize all the issues you mentioned above, but haven't actually had a bad experience (yet). Of course, I'm one of the smaller blogs just starting out, but the companies I have worked with have been awesome--and I know those 4-5 star ratings seem contrived but for the handful of products I've tested, I've yet had the need to rate them anything less (lucky me, I guess?). I agree, I will never pay anyone to write a review and it's almost insulting for a company to expect a blogger to do so. I just feel as if Tomoson is the middle man and I take them for what they're worth. I don't pay them anything, therefore, I get what I pay for.

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    1. Evonne, I understand what you're saying. And like I said, Tomoson isn't ALL bad! I, too, have had the opportunity to work with some really great brands, some of whom I still work with today (outside of Tomoson of course—many of the higher end brands realized that Tomoson's system was faulty so they left and contacted me personally).

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  10. THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE WORDS RIGHT OUT OF MY MOUTH! ALSO LETS ADD IN THAT YOU CANNOT DELETE YOUR ACCOUNT IF YOU WANT TO WHICH IS RIDICULOUS! YOU HAVE TO EMAIL TOMOSON AND ASK TO BE BLOCKED. BEING BLOCKED DOESN'T GET RID OF YOUR PROFILE NEITHER. IT SIMPLY STOPS U FROM RECEIVING PRODUCTS BUT ALL YOU INFO IS STILL THERE! ONLY SIGN UP IF U WANT YOUR INFO OUT THERE FOREVERRRRRR

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    1. Lisa, I emailed Tomoson regarding cancellation of my account and never received a response. I did, however, finally figure out how to stop getting so many emails from them. That was a relief.

      Delete
  11. I'm done with them too. I was just threatened with suspension because a package was lost by Amazon and the seller refused to send another OR remove me from the promotion. The woman from Tomoson was horrible. I'm going to finish 2 reviews I have left and I'm outta there!

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    1. I can honestly say that I have NEVER had a positive experience with Tomoson's customer service.

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  12. So happy this post exists, thank you

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  13. Hi Emily!

    Thank you for your Post. I received an E-Mail from Tomoson and they asked me if I'd do sponsored Instagram Posts. Since I'm only having almost 300 Followers, I was happy in the very first moment. But when I reponsed I received an E-Mail where a list of products was included, from which I actually could't really promote anything because it doesn't match to my Blog or Instagram account (I'm a Manga Artist and they sent me Tech-stuff for example...)
    Ofcourse Tomoson is also showing matching stuff on their webside, like brushes and many more products but still...if they really wanted ME for promoting, they should have laid some more effort in their E-Mail. Thats what I thought at least.
    I still wanted to work with them because it still sounded like a great deal but now where i red your article I'm curious what to do and I definetely have to think about it for a while.

    Maya

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    1. Hey Maya! Tomoson isn't very "in tune" with their bloggers and our niches. I was constantly receiving invites for products that I didn't feel aligned with my blog. In Tomoson's defense (which you won't hear me say often), the emails are often automatically generated and sent out in mass emails. Luckily, you can pick and choose which items you review a(and do not review).

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