According to Digital Marketing Institute, 49 percent of consumers depend on influencer recommendations, which describes the influencer-driven advertisements that are constantly popping up all over Instagram. If you have a large social media following, your inbox is most-likely chalk-full of partnership offers, but how can you tell if it’s a scam? A recent incidence with cleansing brush brand The SkinGlo shows why you should be extra careful.
For a group of influencers, The SkinGlo offered a partnership that seemed pretty straightforward. According to The Verge, “The SkinGlo was looking for content to fill its Instagram feed, and its team had chosen the influencers to help. In exchange for five photos of them using The SkinGlo’s electric face scrubber—even photos taken just from their phones—they’d receive €450, or about $525 USD. They could even watermark the images and only send over a clean file once they got paid.”
A major warning sign the influencers overlooked was that the brand asked them to buy the face scrubber themselves. Although that caused some skepticism, the women say that the company still seemed trustworthy, explaining that “It has a website that’s basic but colorful and clean, its Instagram page has over 12K followers, and, at one point, it was filled with tons of positive comments on its posts.”
After buying the product and posting on their feeds, the women never heard from the company again, nor were they compensated. According to The Verge, the brand cheated the system with two specific tactics. First, The SkinGlo’s “PR team” emailed the influencers instead of relying on Instagram DMs. “The email looked very professional,” says Rachel Gross, one of the online creators. Second, the company had a very detailed “terms and conditions” contract, which influencer and photographer Lauren Clithroe said made her feel a lot better. “I said, ‘Okay, if there is a contract that makes me feel a lot better because I know it’s a legal thing…They have to stand by what they’re saying, or at least so I thought,” she explains.
According to Clithroe, “Myself and my husband, we both lost our jobs at the beginning of this year, right as the pandemic started, so we were struggling a little bit for a few months…There will be people in that same boat because of the pandemic, and it’s taking advantage of people in a desperate situation.”