There’s a new trend on Instagram lately, and that is the craze of ‘brand reps’. Well, I say new, I am not sure when this became a thing, but I know lately I am seeing it more and more and I feel it is about time to say something.
First of all, brands aren’t stupid. They have seen this new social media influencer obsession take off. Thousands of people are trying to start YouTube channels. They’re trying to gain as many likes and followers as possible on every social platform they can.
We have a generation of people who are saying they want to be ‘internet famous’ when they grow up.
Before I started this, I thought people who were ‘brand reps’ were so lucky. They got sent things for free, they only had to take a photo of a product, and share it, and there you go. In some aspect, that is a “proper” brand rep – someone who works to advertise particular products and in return is appreciated by a brand and paid for their time, but this isn’t what these companies are doing anymore. They’re scamming people – they’re getting free advertisement and they’re getting more sales as a result of their deceptive ways.
So I got a DM on the gram the other day. It said that they had randomly selected a hashtag and chose my photo and that I now had the opportunity to become a brand rep for a baby clothes company. I asked what it entailed and if I would be paid (as I always do when I receive emails from brands) and they told me I would get a discount code to share with my followers, and that all I would have to do is make a purchase every now and again for a product that I could advertise for them, but not to worry as I would receive a discount too.
This is how I perceived it:
“Hi, we would love to offer you the chance to buy one of our products so you can advertise it to your followers. Even though you still have to pay, we will be kind enough to knock a bit of money off because we understand the hard work that is going into product placement, photography, advertising and the sharing of our product with no actual payment for your time. You will have to purchase something of ours every month or two and repeat this process of photographing and advertising our products in order for your contract (where we exploit you) to be valid.”
The word contract is laughable by the way. They use it so people think it is a legitimate thing.
So, as an “influencer”, what is in it for you? Well, let me tell you. Absolutely nothing. The company is praying on people’s obsession with becoming famous and having a ‘rep’ status. It probably works the most on kids who are around 16+. You’re buying their products = More money for them. Then you’re taking photos of their products = They’re saving money on photography. You’re advertising their products = Saving on advertising. You’re offering a discount code to your followers = More money for the brand when people buy the discounted clothing.
What do you get in return? Nothing.
Now don’t get me wrong, if you love a company and make regular purchases (for example, Mrs Hinch uses a wax melt company which she reps for and has a discount code for) then it is completely understandable and I can 100% back those kind of reps because you’d make use out of the discount code as you were purchasing things anyway, you genuinely love the product and you would really love to recommend it to people who you care about.
My issue is with these companies who are actively seeking out normal people who think they are going to become famous and get free things, when in reality, they’re just convincing people to spend money on products they weren’t going to buy in the first place and advertising them – especially when it is a company who couldn’t care less about the person who is doing it.
If I had received a DM like this before I had my blog and had no background knowledge of this industry, I would have been like oh my god I would love to be a brand rep, that sounds amazing.
The thing is, all these brands are doing is literally expanding their customer base through the representatives who are having to purchase a product to advertise it in the first place, and then continue doing so in order to keep this ‘rep’ status, and also reaching more people consistently for the sake of the brand. Its truly disgusting but if you search #brandrepsearch on Instagram, you will see them all over.
One of them I seen earlier required DAILY posting on Instagram stories of latest products, latest deals, etc. Do you know how much daily advertising would cost for a brand? Remember there is absolutely nothing in it for the people who choose to do these deals, bar a bit of a discount on products they’re buying themselves.
It is modern day exploitation and if you receive a message from a brand saying similar things, please tell them where to go. If you’re ever offered anything like this, ask yourself “what is in it for me” at all times.
Hopefully if enough people do it, these brands will realise what they’re doing is completely wrong.
It is important to remember that there are lots of brands out there who know the worth of representatives and give them lots in return, whether it be payment in product or actual money. Do not do things for free! There are decent companies out there. If your goal is to become a rep of a company, just make sure it is a reputable one and that the agreement is mutually beneficial
and lastly, a massive shout out to Yasmin (click here for her blog) who posted about this on her stories recently and encouraged me to finally write this post.