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New wave of RV influencers spreading misleading, false information online

I recently saw this quote online:

Did Abraham Lincoln really say that? Of course not! Anyone can post just about anything on the internet without the expertise or facts to back them up, and that’s exactly what some RV influencers are doing. The challenge today is that the RV industry is exploding and people are hungry for information. There are so many people that see the potential for making money with blogs, articles, “vlogs” and more as a result. You can’t blame them—they are making good money from it. But in many cases, the information they’re putting out there just isn’t true, and it can do a lot of damage to RVs!

RV influencers are just writing for SEO

So many articles are being written for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) content—whatever that means—with very little regard for factual information. From what my granddaughter tells me, writing for SEO is having content that will “pop up” the most times in a search and put you higher in the categories. The better an SEO score, the more people will visit your website. That’s what you want, right? Well, except when the information you’re posting is totally bogus!

In my opinion, too many people are writing RV articles and content based on SEO. New RVers are just Google searching for information or they’re using social media platforms that are more about form than function. (I call it “roughing it at Starbucks”.) And some of the information is not only wrong, but it can also be damaging or even dangerous. Here are a few examples.

Fake steps, fake news!

One morning last week I was going through MSN.com and one of the “news” blocks at the top showed an advertisement for Lippert steps. Most of you know that Lippert makes or owns just about everything in the RV industry and has some great products, including steps. However, the ones pictured here might not be very functional in an RV.

I know what happened here. Lippert is advertising all over the internet and someone that is good with graphics was tasked to insert a photo that would draw attention. This one did for me. But a two-story cement staircase for an ad about RV steps is a little misleading…

Insulating RVs for summer… not this way!

Another example is a recent article I read from a popular RV lifestyle blog. The headline was something about how to insulate RVs for summer. Most of the content was generic and mildly helpful. However, three of the tips had me wondering where this RV influencer’s research came from.

Nope, don’t do this

One tip said to add insulation to the inside of the wall. Spray foam was recommended and, apparently, is the popular choice of RV owners. One thing I’ve learned in my 30+ years of being in the RV industry is that I never say never. However, I have not come across anyone that has ever added spray foam insulation to the inside of their RV walls. First, the walls either have block foam insulation sandwiched between lauan sheets and an exterior fiberglass sheet, or they have loose-fill insulation in the stick-and-tin types. Here is a cutaway of a Winnebago model. How would you add spray foam to the inside of the sidewall here?

Plus, anyone that has ever used spray foam insulation knows that it expands. Can you imagine what that would do to your sidewall, windows, and doors? Ouch! To install spray foam you would need to drill holes in the outside wall between the framework, fill the cavity with spray foam, and install plugs or seal the opening. OK, I’ll say it… I have NEVER seen this!

My guess is the RV influencer who wrote this did a generic internet search for keeping your house cooler in the summer and got information on adding insulation to a residential house that does not apply to an RV. Again, ouch!

Another misleading tip from an RV influencer

At first glance, this makes sense. However, the next tip starts by stating that all RVs are equipped with air conditioning and you can use them as much as you want. But the tip goes on to state that using the air conditioning will drain your battery and fuel reserves. The roof air conditioner runs on 120-volt power and requires shoreline power or a generator. OK, remember how I never say never? Keystone has introduced the SolarFlex System that uses lithium batteries and an inverter and can run the roof air conditioners with the SoftStartRV™ for about three hours. Some of the smaller Class B units have a similar set up. So technically it can drain the battery, but it’s quite a stretch. And yes, if you run the generator to power the roof air, it will use fuel.

I still think it’s an internet search that relates to older automobiles running the air conditioners in hot weather.

Paint the outside of your RV

The third tip states that darker RVs get hotter inside, which I believe is somewhat true. When I was at Winnebago we did temperature tests on units that had full body paint to determine if it would affect the adhesive used in the sidewall and cause delamination during really hot days. The darker colors did produce much higher interior wall temperatures. However, there was only a 1–2 degree variance inside the rig. The block foam insulation in the sidewall and roof helps with temperatures.

The tip stated that many RVs are already painted white but if you have a darker color and are having temperature issues, try painting the RV white. Really?? First, most are not painted white—the fiberglass has the inherent color. The writer obviously does not know what all goes into “painting” an RV. And what type of paint should be used: eggshell finish, indoor-outdoor, roller or brush, washable? I didn’t know it was just that easy! I think I might try something else before just painting it to see if it gets cooler.

RV influencers aren’t paying attention to the facts

There are several publications (like us, RVtravel.com!), articles, and blogs that do provide helpful information. However, you need to pay close attention to facts that back up that information and make sure they are from a reputable source. You can do a lot of damage to your RV if you follow some RV influencers’ advice online.

Gotta go. I’m heading to my local Ace Hardware store to see if they can match the exterior color of my neighbor’s ’89 Bounder. It’s now a light pinkish color!

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Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.

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Ray
25 days ago

It is an amazing level of deliberate, misleading information on the internet. The Gullibles are making this enterprise profitable. Too bad you can’t sell skepticism,,,,,,. Wait a minute. With so many Gullibles around it just occurred to me that maybe I can. In tablet or pill. Get your healthy dose of skepticism right here! But Wait! Right now, and just for you, we are selling 2 for 1. Coming soon to a website near you. What do you think? Remember you heard it here first folks!

Elizabeth Walton
1 month ago

Let’s not just isolate this to RV influencers. First of all not everyone who writes an article is an influencer. There seem to be at least 500 articles for every 1 actual influencer. Secondly you’re leaving out manufacturers, product companies, and dealers. The amount of misinformation is astounding and comes from just about every nook and cranny within the RV industry. My most recent experience is Camco selling its magnesium anode rod SPECIFICALLY for an Atwood water heater!! 🤯 Packaged and on the shelves. If I was an influencer I might suggest this in an article, sourced directly form an established RV retailer.
Unfortunately not everyone has 30+ years of experience, so we rely on getting information where we can find. The internet….almost as bad as World Book encyclopedia…

Todd Spencer
1 month ago

Thank you, for sharing this very interesting and important information on misleading new owners. I’ve been an owner since 2016, and I’ve always went to a very well known educational expert in the RV industry. RV Education 101 with Mark and Dawn Polk. Then I found this, rvtravel.com. I’ve always wanted to educate myself in the RV industry but, I also found Forest River Forum a great source for educational information to help me. Again, Thank you for this very interesting and important article!!

Dave
1 month ago

I have significantly reduced listening to RV YouTubers. I often feel as if I’ve been lured by click bait. I also get tired of reviews of products that someone gets free to test. AND, maybe more frustrating, you watch videos about how great something is and soon YouTubers are buying something else. Most are frequently buying new RVs. If they had made a wise decision in the first place, they wouldn’t be frequently changing RVs.

Aaron Whaley
1 month ago

Just for the record… I have seen spray foam used in restoration of Airstreams and similar units. Even at that time it was considered as problematic due to the potential flexing causing the foam to disintegrate. This was some 30+ years ago. The newer formulations may perform better. However, as pointed out it is not an easy thing to retrofit. I have see it recently used in a few bus conversions, but that is the exception.

The amount if misinformation on the www is mind boggling.

Justin Boggs
1 month ago

I hear you Dave
I own RV Water Filter Store, been doing RV Water Filtration for over 30 years. Yet I am amazed at the number of seo type blog post articles about top RV water filters, and continually see just cheap top selling amazon products such as the camco inside filter. Those filters last like a weekend or two, tantamount to those old disposable cameras we all used to buy for family vacations.
Just a bunch of Amazon affiliates, not folks actually living the RV life

Rich
1 month ago

“…One morning last week I was going through MSN.com…

that was your first mistake.

Julie and Marc Bennett
1 month ago

Thanks for sharing this article. We share your frustrations at the inaccuracy (and often danger) of much of the content we see, usually by RV newbies and/or SEO bloggers that farm out their articles to people who just do random google searches to piecemeal a story together.

However, we also agree with Jason Epperson’s comment about the use of the word “influencers” – which is misused. Influence is not based on churning out hundreds of cruddy articles, or thousands of YouTube followers, but based on a history of building a relationship of trust and respect, and a proven track record of producing quality, accurate, well researched content.

We’d hope people can see through the garbage, it’s shocking how many get their “news” from a headline or blindly believe what they read on the internet or see on social media.

It takes time to produce quality accurate content. And it’s frustrating how many steal content from those of us who put in the effort to share accurate i!nformation.

Liz W
1 month ago

I resoundingly agree! I cannot believe what happens when I’m looking for information or say… reviews of a product. I look for review sites that I trust like consumer reports, some Wired articles, best reviews etc. Then will occasionally scroll down a bit and look at Iamanexpertineverything.net sites, inevitably I find the exact same wording and content that I first read on the reputable sites – no quotation marks and no links to sources!!! That really frosts my cookies!
Reputable people work hard to present content that is reliable and worthy of attention. Then the SEO lookie-loo’s and wanna-be’s copy. I wonder why plagiarism goes so unpunished on the internet?

Jason Epperson
1 month ago

While I agree with the sentiment here, the “influencer” frame of reference is unfortunate. Most actual influencers (who mostly hate the term influencer) care deeply about their audience. I think you’re mostly referring to wannabe influencers and SEO bloggers. Influencers have influence because their audience trusts them. People don’t trust people who post this stuff. I’ve certainly got things wrong a time or two, and so has RV Travel. We all have. It goes with the territory. But we do our best to provide quality, reliable content, and I find the “othering” of content creators unfortunate. We’re all in the same boat.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jason Epperson
Julie and Marc Bennett
1 month ago
Reply to  Jason Epperson

Well said Jason, we agree.

Jim Langley
1 month ago

In case you didn’t know this, many of these bogus articles aren’t actually written by people, they’re compiled by search and seek robotic compilers and then automatically assembled into a story.. basically computerized content creation, no humans involved except to plug in the terms they want the computer to make a story out of. That’s why these stories can be so awful and so full of misinformation and outright mistakes.

But, it’s basically free to steal and assemble other people’s content online. If you hired a real person who actually knows their stuff, you’d have to pay them to research, write the story, take photos, etc., and these companies have no interest in paying when they can steal the content for free. Also, if the robot does its job right, it will piece stories together that don’t breach copyrights laws.

It’s too bad that there’s no way to stop this practice yet.

Vanessa
1 month ago

SEO is not what is described in this article though. SEO is understanding what people are searching for & how they are searching for it & creating quality content/information that answers those questions. (You probably do it, or should do it, on this site to make sure that your articles cover the types of topics your audience is looking for.) The example ad with the concrete stairs is an advertisement (which has nothing to do with SEO – that’s an example of ad creation algorithm that’s trying to create ads at scale and is automatically (poorly) pulling in an image that “matches” the ad text). The articles you’re talking about might be useful information poorly described (for instance, the insulation tip might be about a van conversion project) or could be spam or could just be a RVers who only knows what they know. (The RV blogging communities originally sprung from a lack of information online, resulting in sharing experiences.)

Steve Hericks
1 month ago

Dave,
Thanks much for this article. I’m a retired MIT mechanical engineer and former plant engineer for Safari Motor Coaches. I am at least as outraged by these folks as you. I frequently try to debunk a lot of these shoddy ‘articles’….I’ve even reached out to some of the authors and offered to provide technical review of their articles free of charge but have had no takers. I have resorted to point by point comments, citing their specific writing and showing how the facts do not support their conclusions. I have two frustrations: 1) the worst articles don’t have the ability to comment, 2) thoughtful and factual comments that I write are rejected by authors…propaganda at its finest…

Liz W
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Hericks

Steve! Off topic here. Safari Motor Coaches are still the gold standard in terms of engineering, components and longevity. Was that ever a terrible loss to the true RVer when Safari went under.
My Trek is my last RV, had 3 of the same model since 1995 and each one has been a true gem to travel and live in.
May the wind be at your back, Steve. Thank you for giving your expertise to Safari!

Jason
1 month ago

Two words: “VAN CONVERSION!!” SEO is certainly a thing and oft abused but this ISN’T that. Spray foam is sometimes used for a Sprinter/Transit cargo vans that don’t have walls/windows to be affected. The interior walls are installed AFTER the insulation. An AC unit can easily drain your house battery in a van because capacity is limited and many vans don’t even have generators. Paint color in a thinly or uninsulated van affects the temperature greatly. The writer here is missing the fact that these claims largely pertain to VAN LIFE (unless of course the writer is doing SEO of their own).

Graham Green
29 days ago
Reply to  Jason

Came here to say the same thing.

Additionally what exactly is an “influencer”, the author, with their 30+ years RV experience and many articles about the industry under their belt, must surely be an influencer, if they’re not, then why bother writing this or any other article.

Charles Davis
1 month ago

Click bait, yes just click bait, and it is the future, just look at our economy.
We have been financing and re financing RV’s since 1998 and just recently online I was surprised to see an “article” read that as a paid ad, stating they had just started re financing Rv’s written as if they were the only place in the world who could RE finance an RV, the letters BS comes to mind, just more click bait.
We have been doing RV Refinancing since 1999 and a simple process too, we have been online since 1998.
OH, btw it is not expensive to RE finance an RV, not like re financing your house at all!
August 2022 will be our 25th year online!

Charles Davis
http://www.RVfinancing.com

OH, btw, I have known Chuck for years and he is our (RV folks) most supportive writer that I know of, as he says, become a paid subscriber, it’s quite a team he and Emily have working with them and they all need to be fed in some fashion.

May we meet on the road!

Bill
1 month ago

Was the article on spray foam perhaps referring to doing a van conversion? This is common practice when making a bare van into a “VanLife” camper.

Scott
1 month ago

They really are very smart about Google they present the information exactly how Google wants it displayed. It is almost like a computer program is writing the content for them. Everything is in the right place.

The problem is they don’t know what they are talking about and Google doesn’t know or care.

The correction is to make sure to “comment, subscribe, and “like” the good stuff and to unsubscribe and ignore the garbage. Comments providing correction to the garbage unfortunately are interpreted by Google as an endorsement.

It is going to take a long time before the good stuff rises to the top.

wanderer
1 month ago

Yes, I’ve seen some of these geniuses dispensing advice on websites. But they offer no comment section to allow for corrections or clarification. If a blogger or vlogger does not have a way for people to respond, just ignore the whole site, because you don’t know what information is bogus.

Engineer
1 month ago

Great article. What is very annoying are Owner Forums where an owner of a 2022 Class A ask a question and responses come in from owners of every brand but the one that the forum is meant to support and people talk about their 1995 model….

Crowman
1 month ago

This has worked for me over 50 years. Assume all information sources are from stupid people until proven different.

Steve
1 month ago

Timely article, Dave! It is needed because Youtube seems to be the only source of info on RVing for many new, younger-generation buyers. And Youtube seemingly has no controls on video content. What I have noticed most is that many of the videos and newsletter articles are just a rehash of other “influencers” videos/articles. Or even a rehash of articles from RVTravel, RV101, or from you. The most laughable ones are the “10 best this” or “6 best that”, when you know that there is no way they have actually used all of those products (especially living in the new RVs they are comparing!). But even more dangerous are the pop-up ads that promise “miraculous 100 mpg” in your F-350 diesel!

In regard to your comments on spray foam insulation, the only places I have seen it actually demonstrated is in DIY van conversions and in sealing open spaces against rodents and insects. In vans, a thin layer of foam may be beneficial on the steel skin before the wall board is installed.