When I decided to share more off my life with others on Instagram, my hope was to share my fitness journey and to talk about things that I love! I was also hoping to turn a side hustle into a main hustle too because, let's face the truth: creating content takes WORK! As I started to post regularly, I noticed that I was getting more comments and random DM from companies I've never heard of. While the attention was nice I started thinking, "They finally see me! they want to work with me!" Looking back, I see the naïve thought process and I want to give myself a nice smack and say, "it's too good to be true!"
I want to share with you you somethings I've experienced so you don't get waste your time and money the way I did. Here's some ways to spot a social media scam.
First, I mentioned the comments and DMs. That is the first way that many of these scams try to contact you. They may say things like "Hi there, your amazing we love your content. DM us to become and ambassador!" or "DM this other Instagram page to work with us." Now if your spider senses weren't already going off regarding this, we're going to have to fine tune them a bit. Those phrases should stop you in your tracks. But, lets say your like me and you indulge them to find out a little bit more information about them. Curiosity does get the better of us sometimes.
Another red flag would be if they say something along the lines of "here's a coupon for x% off" or even the most tempting one, "DM us for free merchandise." Ok, I know free sounds amazing but the catch to free is they usually want you to pay for shipping. Depending on where they are based or if they do drop shipping, that price can escalate quickly. Most of these companies use supplies from other countries so the shipping can be $20-30. Insane right? Please don't be me and pay that high shipping for a beauty supply watch! I wish I had captured my face when I opened that package I had waiting over two weeks for. This is probably the closest example.
If the brand doesn't have these obvious signs take a look at their page. Is it full of ambassadors and no models wearing their products? Or do the pictures look familiar? They may have large follower counts but are they active? Anyone can but followers in today's world. Remember, many of these companies use the same supplier and some use the same dang pictures! Often its a much higher price even with their funky coupon code. Do a reverse image search and I bet you'll find those same items on another website or page. They often mention that you COULD get the change to be featured on their page. That sounds like a good chance for exposure but lets emphasize the "could" part. Instead, they try to reach other beautiful, high follower count "Influencers" and use those people to show the products on their page because they know how to product high quality content. Then use "Ambassadors" that have purchased the the products or paid that high shipping making the company profits. Beware, beware, beware! They are basically using you as free promo and baby your hard earned, photos videos, or other content are worth payment!
Instagram is a great place to find affiliate programs, but be cautious. Some companies may contact you in the DMs, especially if you use and promote their products by tagging them or using their hashtags. If they reach out to you, they usually ask for an email to continue the conversation and provide you with more information. If it's something your interested in there is usually some kind of contract that you have to sign as well regarding your agreement with the brand detailing your content requirements, payment or incentives, and sometimes a non disclosure agreement.
Remember just because you have a smaller following does NOT mean that your might not be a candidate for a company to reach out to. If you produce quality content, regularly to an engaged following you could start working with brands you know and love sooner than you think. So, don't give up hope! Use your newfound knowledge to tackle this social media market and flourish as you grow your brands or just share with your friends and families.