I wrote the below post in late 2018 and for whatever reason I didn’t publish it BUT these words are still true today as they were back then!
If you follow at least one influencer, you will see on any given day companies sending free products their way. Anything from skincare to makeup to clothing, influencers are sent an insane amount of free stuff. For a brand, this is in hopes of that influencer sharing it with their community in the bigger hopes of a few people in that community purchasing that item. If an influencer has a well curated community, you can best believe that a few people will purchase and the money the company loss in sending out the free product is well worth it. This practice has created an industry of people who feel they should be gifted things because…well because! The other day I saw a post in a FB group that I belong to that troubled me but it was not until I spoke about it with another creative did I go from troubled to downright pissed! In general the post was a influencer asking for local businesses to comp services to them for an event. She explained that she had X amount of followers and that the lucky chosen would have their services seen by that following. Now an ask like this to a big brand would have come with a counter; what can you’re X amount of followers do for me besides like on an IG picture or a view on your blog? For a small business though, there can come a blind of the eyes when they hear numbers like 18K, 20K or 30K followers. There were at least twenty small business owners who jumped at the chance to leave this influencer their information in hopes of being chosen for a feature at her event and that pissed me off even more! So I have a few things I want to get off my chest so please indulge me for a moment.
shop similar looks:
For Brands: STOP LOOKING AT THE INSTAGRAM NUMBERS AND FOCUS ON THE ENGAGEMENT! Yes I’m yelling because maybe if I yell loud enough it will sink in! So she told you she has X amount of followers, what’s next?? 200, 400, 600, 1000 likes on a damn picture does not mean a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of those “liker’s” will buy your product; it just means they like the picture….simple as that. Let me clue you into a little secret; you want to know if this influencer is going to really sell your product….check out their engagement! Are they giving a “call to action” in their Instagram captions? Are their followers leaving genuine comments? Are they answering questions in the comments? Are they having real conversations with their followers? Are they showing you the number of click throughs they get on their blog when they link a brand and how many of those clicks lead to sells? I mean if you pay your bills in “likes” or “blog views” then you do you and please pass on to whom you pay your bills to that way because I need the hook up! But if you pay your bills in cash, dolla’s, moolah, currency, I suggest you look deep into stats, click thru rates, ROI and all that jazz before you make an investment in your business that requires you giving something up for free to gain a better return. If a influencer can’t give you anything else past a numbers on Instagram or visits to their blog, please run in the other direction! This person likely has no real influence and you will be wasting your time and most importantly money! Now this is not me saying don’t ever create a press package and send it out to a few influencers or turn down a request for a free product in exchange for a post that comes your way, it’s me saying be smart about. Don’t give away your $500 service/product for free if you haven’t done the research to ensure you will make that back doubled, you better hand out that $50 one and hope for the best. Influencer marketing is GOLD right now and some influencers don’t have brands best bottom line at heart, they are just thinking about how much stuff they can get and are taking full advantage of this system and many prey on small business who would bend over backwards for the chance to work with someone who has a large number of followers; mega brands have started to become hip to the game and are looking toward cold hard facts before working with influencers. A tag on Instagram to X amount of followers is just that, a tag on Instagram to X amount of followers. You have to be sure to do the research and ensure that tag is a good investment for you.
For Bloggers: STOP TELLING BRANDS YOU HAVE X FOLLOWERS AND THAT’S WHY THEY SHOULD WORK WITH YOU! Yes I’m yelling because maybe if I yell loud enough it will sink in. Is that all your brand is worth, a bunch of Instagram followers and likes because if that’s all you got you won’t make it very far. We provide a service to brands and need to be damn sure we can deliver! Stop asking for free shit solely based on your “followers” because you are giving us a bad name and I for one need some respeck on it cause I work hard to prove I’m more than just a few numbers on an app! Some influencers are very quick to ask for something from a brand, be it a free service or product but have we stopped to think how this will benefit the brand we are asking? Think about it like this, would you work with a brand, create dope ass content that took you hours and cost you a few hundred dollars create for only a “tag” in the brand’s Instagram post because “We have X amount of followers” or link to your blog on their website because “We get X amount of traffic?” If the answer is no, keep that in mind when you’re asking for free shit! Be sure when you are approaching a brand for a product gifting, this will be a benefit for them. When you can benefit a brand you’re working with, you create a relationship that can spawn a long lasting partnership, not just a simple one and done cause you really wanted that product. It angers me know that some influencers use their “influence” as currency and never stop to think how much of a disservice that does to this community. We already have to fight to prove our worth, please don’t make it harder. If your influence is your business, it needs to be treated as such and a silly number on Instagram can’t be the only thing you are banking on to get work because let me tell you, that well is going to soon dry up. I got stats on spreadsheets out the ass proving to brands big and small that I approach, I can deliver results. I can get more than just eyes on a pretty Instagram picture, I can get them real visits to their website, I can get them real dollars in their pocket.
I have ton’s more to say and I will but will let all this sink in first. I will say this one last thing, if your feathers are ruffled it must have hit a nerve and I won’t apologize for it!
Photos by Sandy Swagger Jones