Brands are loving house parties. They love the organic experiences that result from women getting together around their brand or their product. When bloggers host said events, it has the huge added benefit of social reach too. However, I recently posted about my liability concerns with house parties, and I have one more outstanding house party consideration…. 

Not all house parties are created equal.

Imagine you are invited to two holiday parties: one is hosted by your company and one hosted by your partner’s company.

Your work party is at a restaurant. There is no music, but if you put 25 cents in the table jukebox, you can listen to one song. There are passed hors d’ourves, but you are only allowed three samples the entire night and there are no plates provided. Everyone stands around because there is no seating, and after an hour, everyone can go home. Except for you. You have to go back to the office to write up a report on the party.

The next night you go to your partner’s work party. As soon as you enter the front door, there is music playing. The table is covered in food and you can eat as much as you want. At the end of the night, the hostess gives you a goody bag to take home that has some great things for your kids. You can’t wait to go online and write about the awesome night you just had.

Two different experiences. Two different parties.

Which one do you want to go to?

I have hosted two house parties in the past two months. Each is similar to the party experiences I shared above. At one of the house parties I hosted, I received about $60 in product: three toys valued at $20 each. Two were for me to keep, which meant my total compensation was $40.

I was required to have 10 guests with their children in attendance, which means at least 20 people. I was given instructions on what food to serve, even though I was not given any a budget for food. I spent about $30 for drinks and some munchies for the kids and parents.

If you are following my math: $40-$30 = $10 profit.

However, I was also required to take pictures, get waivers, and tweet during the event. I then had to go online and write a post-event blog post. This $10 “stipend” was supposed to cover my time. Which, of course, did not include my time sending invites and buying the food either. At the end of the party, I did a drawing for one of the toys to give to one of the children. The other nine children went home empty handed.

Fun, right?

A couple weeks later, I hosted another house party. The value of product I received was about $200. I did not receive a food budget either, but I spent the same amount as my first house party ($30) on food for the same number of guests. So my net compensation was $170. The brand provided everything else I needed: from handouts to batteries and tissue paper to goody bags. It took me about 15 minutes to put the goody bags together, and each had a small toy, coupons, a DVD, and a music CD. My requirements were to post what I could and when I could. While more was preferred, it was not required.

I ended up posting more than the first party. Why? Because I had more fun. Because of that fun, I wanted to share it. It was not a gloried review. It was a true organic experience with fellow moms. A chance to really play with the product, to see what the product could do, and what kids liked the most about it. As a result, I wanted to share.

Why are brands hosting house parties? Well, the primary goal is to get the product in front of you and your friends. Then the hope is that your friends will go out and tell their friends. And along the way, all these friends will buy it for their kids. The ultimate goal is to sell product in a retail environment.

But here are some practical tips. If you are Mom (or Dad) hosting a house party, you should have your costs covered in the value of the product. Whether you are a blogger or not, you are providing a service to the brand, so it shouldn’t rack up your credit card bill to host one. If you are expected to provide ‘work product’, meaning a blog post or certain number of tweets, you should be compensated for your time too.

I can see the argument that some may provide: if I held my own Birthday party tomorrow, I would have to buy the food for my own guests, send out invitations, etc. So it would ‘cost’ me something to throw my own party. Agreed. The difference is if a brand then asked you to write a post about it. While you may be willing to do so without value (I’ve done it at times in the past because I would write about it anyway, or they have been nice to me in the past for other things, or they are providing great things for my guests), overall, everyone else in the party train is getting paid.

If you are a brand, would you want a guest at your branded house party to have a bad time? Then, ask yourself: Is there another goal other than converting to sales? Is it an opportunity to identify future brand ambassadors rather than randomly picking them or going to the standard go-to-popular bloggers? Are you offering other value, if not compensation? If so, what is it? What would make folks walk away and still be buzzing about your product? It probably won’t be over the free coffee they just drank. Unless, of course, you’re Starbucks.

As a blogger, it was nice that my time was compensated for house party #2 since the value of the product outweighed my expenses. While it may not be a check, the items are still of value to me because I have to declare it on my taxes. It is not ‘free’ stuff, as some may think. It is my form of compensation. Similar to some cultures giving a chicken in exchange for seeing the village doctor. (I’m being serious.)

This post does not reflect on the actual company called House Party.

All thoughts and opinions are my own. Whether they are good or bad thoughts and opinions.

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