Being in the blogging business for around 8 years now I came to learn a lot. Let’s hear from the old bitter blogger about the difference between being an ambassador and being a customer. When you’re investing more than you’re gaining from the collaboration it’s not really a collaboration you’re looking for.
There is a new trend going around on social media, especially Instagram. I’ve been getting collaboration offers on a daily basis even pre COVID times but now the amount of pseudo collaborations increased.
Hands down it is an incredible business strategy from the business point of view.
Everyone wants to be an ambassador.
Ambassador became an even more prestigious title than an influencer. Influencer posses some sort of responsibility for their actions whilst ambassador is just being paid for simply being.
Who wouldn’t want that?
Many brands use this knowledge to the fullest and offer these pseudo collaborations.
So what is a pseudo collaboration?
Well, it starts off by being contacted by a brand.
You’ll receive a ctrl+c ctrl+v message from a brand-name-scout. The message contains several cute emojis and addresses you as a gorgeous, pretty, cutie, love, honey, sweety, and if they really want to get you, even by your Instagram name.
It’s usually followed by a bunch of compliments about your fashion style, vibe, Instagram, or whatever. Then there is a lie about following or just generally noticing you for a while without ever seeing your insta story, like any of your posts, or even actually following you.
Now it’s time for an offer beneficial for you.
Usually, it’s free products, a way to earn a commission, or just the sheer option to be able to call yourself an ambassador. Every single brand out there offers a “support” like anyone really knows what’s that supposed to mean. I had several ones even offering me a travel trips, but never elaborated on it after my further questioning.
Now comes the hook with a “do you want to learn more?” question.
If you think I’m exaggerating for the story and I can’t be generalizing all of the collaborations offers into a simple standard form I wish you were right. Here are some of the screenshots of my current Instagram DMs:
You might think: “What’s wrong with that? They’re trying so don’t be mean. Just ignore them.” let me remind you how dumb the Instagram algorithm is.
If your account is followed by bots, messaged by bots, liked by bots Instagram assumes you’re one of them or you got hacked by them. Sweet of them for trying to protect you thought, but holy hell did that made everything super complicated for me.
I got several messages from the brand scouts messaging me again because their previous account got deleted.
No shit Sherlock, it’s like you can’t keep creating accounts, following and messaging a bunch of people at once, and ask for money anymore.
So now every time my account gets suspicious activity such as too many likes/follows/messages Instagram suspects my account got hacked. Each time they require I change my password and let me tell you I ran out of password ideas months ago.
That’s not the worst part though.
After each time I change my password I’m blocked for 7 days from liking, following, or adding tags to my posts and that sucks. Just to get a better picture of this issue I’m blocked approximately once sometimes twice per month.
The block comes hand in hand with a shadowban that lingers for god knows how long, meaning Instagram is not gonna support you in any way. That’s why I have around 40 likes on posts with 47K followers most of which are bots anyway.
I loath the Instagram app yet I spend hours a day on the hellish site and I’m not the only one.
We spend so much time on Instagram anyway so when a chance to earn money from it comes along you’re tempted to take it. Brands know that.
Imagine you’re a small-town girl with around 400 followers on Instagram. You already feel pretty popular right?
Now imagine you get the messages I shared above but you get just one. Someone out there thinks you’re so popular they want you on their team, you are just like the big influencers, you get job offers for being an Instagram star. You’re the next Kardashian.
You can have all of the things they said to you BUT you need to do something for them first. You have to pay for it.
And here is the catch with all of the pseudo collaborations.
What they don’t say to you in their first message is what it’s gonna cost you.
Many offers you free stuff but you need to pay for the one-time shipping. Some brands offer you a unique discount of around 40-60% off so you’ll pay just a part of the price and you can call yourself an ambassador.
I don’t know about you, but I thought that was called the customer. You buy a product, you wear it and occasionally you take a photo of it on your social media sites. The new term is an ambassador apparently.
I get why so many people agree to this kind of collaboration. It’s new for you. It makes you feel good and successful in your friend’s and family’s eyes. And there is that hopefully undertone of making money from it.
Aren’t the brands unprofitable when they give away discounts and free stuff?
In a theory, yes, but there is one thing all of the brands that messaged me had in common except for the audacity.
I got messaged by jewelry stores, fashion stores, and gym equipment stores most of the time. I took the time and did my research on every one of them.
When a store sold jewelry, they had the same products as the rest of the jewelry stores I got contacted by. A small variety of around 8 products most of them sold out anyway. And let’s not forget the ridiculously high prices. You can’t charge a cheap Chinese necklace you can get it on amazon or aliexpress for under a 1$ for 40$.
So even if you’re paying just around 30$ for your ambassador order they are still making a profit on your wannabe Instagramer need cuz they purchased said items for far less.
Well, I’m being a little miss know it all right?
How can I talk about pseudo collaboration like this when it’s all based on assumptions. Well you know me, I’m curious as hell and I actually went through 3 pseudo collaborations myself just to prove a point.
I literally spend money so I can tell you about it right now so here is how my 3 pseudo collaborations went like.
All of the ones I choose were jewelry based pseudo collaborations. With the corona times, post offices are overwhelmed with parcels. I ordered big parcels in recent times and they arrived with around a month delay. I figured smaller jewelry in an envelope form would be quicker to arrive and I was right.
Pseudo collaboration number one VONACHI:
A simple yet luxurious-looking website with very few decent pieces of jewelry offered me 3 free pieces to take a photo in and promote. I would also get a 60% discount code and every time my code would be used I would receive 30% of the money amount. Incredibly overpriced amount in the first place.
Here is the list of all of the benefits they offered.
The scout that approached me was very eager. They kept insisting I place my order right away. No time to waste.
To make it clear I got a simple code to apply in a check out that subtracted the price and I got the pieces for free. All I had to do was pay a 20$ shipping fee what seems like nothing but for 3 small necklaces, it is way too much.
Another thing that was odd was that I was required to take a screenshot of my order and send it back to scout. I guess to prove I was legit.
After a bunch of further compliments and claims of how excited they are to be working with me we ended our conversation.
If you think I was being reckless to give my credit card and home address to such a questionable site don’t be.
Honestly, I trust zero people, sometimes I don’t even trust myself. I used a card I have no to very little money on and I got it shipped to a work address.
My parcel from china arrived in around a month and a half. I got one black box with one necklace and the other 2 necklaces were in small plastic bags. I received a note welcoming me to the program and asking me to contact vonachi’s official Instagram account for setting up my discount code and that’s exactly what I did. The official page responded after a longer time period with just a “this is your code” message. I took a photo, tagged vonachi as a business partner, and shared my code. I did my part and I was never contacted by them again.
My 60% code is VONAMBNAT and as you might have guessed no one used it so far.
Or at least no one told me it was used. If someone were to use my code I would be contacted by vonachi and here is the problem. I’m supposed to trust them with their credibility cuz there is no other way for me to check it for myself. This is what it’s missing from the old Time collaborations of mine. I would get a tracking code, an account login, graphs, statistics, and one on one communication with a brand in my previous collaborations. But you know Golden times for influencers are long gone.
Now I’m left to just simply trust them.
Why would they ever confess someone used my code? If a customer gets 60% off and I’m getting 30% from an already discounted item there is just very little left for vonachi. They don’t say anything and get to keep my 30% share.
They didn’t put much effort into the tracking system cuz they are not expecting their ambassadors/customers to make any sales anyway.
The products were not that bad. They came in a bit rusty and tangled but I was excepting much worse.
Hell, I was not expecting them to legitimately arrive.
Pseudo collaboration number 2: ENGELSINN
I initiated this pseudo collaboration myself. Engelsinn paid a significant amount of money to Instagram promoted posts and that’s where I found out they are looking for ambassadors.
I filled out an application form.
This one felt more legit cuz they actually asked for followers count and all of the communication occurred via email. Automated emails but still it reminded me of the good old days.
I was given a 40% discount code to use on my first order. The shipping was free but it still cost me another 20$ to get the product. Since placing my first order I got a 20% discount code “nat7x20” for my followers to get 20% off their engelsinn order.
When my code is redeemed 2 times I get one jewelry of my choice for free.
Do I even need to mention that I didn’t get any emails since?
Well, that’s not exactly true I got 2 more emails each with another discount code I could use for 24 hours and buy more of their stuff. But none about redeemed code.
Engelsinn is a german based brand and living so close I got my parcel in around a week. I got myself a rose gold knot bracelet and I feel like a hypocrite but I actually really love this one and wear it every day. I know I wouldn’t get it if it wasn’t for the research but I’m glad I did.
Btw the ad about engelsinn looking for an ambassador is still up there and it still says they have only a few places left. It’s been 2 months.
Pseudo collaboration number 3: CUZETTE
I got messaged by them on my Instagram and their offer was super confusing. They promised it all. 3 free stuff now, free stuff every month, paid trip to several destinations, and even a 50$ voucher. The scout called me sweety exactly 9 times during our conversations. It was super annoying.
So I choose another 3 free items and paid another 20$ for shipping. When I asked about the 50$ voucher I was told I would need to refer 5 friends who would also become cuzette ambassador or delegate as they named it, to get the 50$. No info about the travel trips though.
I was told to contact the official page for more info but it took days for them to finally reply with nothing new just more compliments and excitement about the future. It’s been 2 months and I still haven’t received my order just as I was expecting.
Later on, I endorsed in conversation with several other brands asking for more info, looking for something different than standard copy and paste form. Unsuccessful.
Every time I asked how many ambassadors they have in their program the answer was always “around 3000“. Once again, you have 3000 customers and not 3000 ambassadors. If the only people who buy from you are people you ask to buy from you, you’re doing something wrong.
But your business plan is on point.
When I asked about who and where makes their products I was either met with silence or a sweet talk about a responsible brand.
These brands are providing people with content. You get to take photos of the items you ordered and you get to be as creative as you want. In these COVID times, so many brands had to cancel or postpone their collaborations with bloggers or Instagrammers. I saw a huge travel/luxurious Instagram switch from hotel and travel collaborations to promoting kitchen wipes. Times are tough and you got to do what you got to do.
Yet these small businesses with high prices are thriving?
You know it’s not about the product but about the potential.
Profiting on greediness.
To prove my point even further I got to confess one more thing. I mentioned before that I manage Instagram accounts for different brands and among them is one fashion store. I was not only at the ambassadors’ side but on the scouting side as well.
All I had to do was search for people who looked like they would be willing to become an ambassador for our store and had a decent amount of followers. I had saved the message form and all I did was try to guess people’s names so the message seemed more personal. Once they agreed to a discussion I let my boss take the lead.
So yeah, try to really think about the offers you get.
Look at it from all points of view and ask yourself if it’s profitable for anyone else but the brand.
If you want to have offers pouring your way try adding #ad #spon #collab to your next Instagram posts. That’s how they look for their next ambassador.
Everyone wants to be an ambassador.