For years, I’ve been a member of two social influencer review sites: BzzAgent and Influenster. I love BzzAgent – they send full size product to try or vouchers to acquire one, their review and activity asks are not absurd. They are consistent. Influenster, on the other hand is all over the place and requests a ridiculous amount of time to be invested in exchange for participation in their program.
A Weird Mix
I’ve gotten multiple Influenster VoxBoxes that contained a hodge-podge of product that was in no way related. I’m flat-out NOT interested in trying or spending time reviewing, like snack items (gross protein bars, dried snap peas trying to be chips). Don’t get me wrong – I did so because those were the terms of the program. But was once an occasional annoyance is now fairly regular.
Unlike BzzAgent, who tells about the campaign so you can opt-in or out, Influenster tends to be a bit more cloak-and-dagger. You take a qualifier survey that may allude to the items or brands, but it is rarely explicit.
The point of a social marketing and social influencer program is to get real people to try things. Those people then share their experiences in multiple mediums:
- In-person conversations
- Reviews on:
- The program site
- The product’s site
- Retailer’s sites
- Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, etc)
- Video (YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram stories)
When they mandate specific mediums, though, they reduce participation. For example – I do not have a Snapchat. I will not open one, period – especially not to do a ridiculous campaign activity. I also do not make YouTube videos…and will not do that just for some ridiculous campaign activity.
“Too much,” will vary from person to person and circle to circle, but Influenster definitely wants you to spam the hell out of everyone via every possible Other Influenster participants I’ve talked to agree that it is getting out of hand and that they feel like Influenster wants them to spam their friends and family. not cool.
So far, every product I’ve received from Influenster has been a drugstore product. That’s fine, but if the trade-off is spending hours (beyond the time to test and evaluate it) creating content…I’ll pass. I’m willing to review these items. I’m not willing to spend 3-4 hours (or more) on content creation for each item in a box (when there can be 5+ items in a box!) if it doesn’t elicit a strong opinion.
I don’t want to half-ass it. But I also don’t want to spend 3 hours reviewing lightly salted snap peas on three websites, five social media platforms (including ones I choose to not use), and this blog. Especially when the content is completely irrelevant to this blog.
My time is worth a hell of a lot more, and I’d rather just buy the damn thing.
A lot of other people aren’t willing to spend that time, either. But instead of refusing to, they instead plagiarize the effort of others. Influenster doesn’t check for that – if you keep an eye out, you’ll see a lot of copied-and-pasted content resulting from less-than-scrupulous Influenster participants who just want free stuff.
Content for Nothing (and the Hits for Free)
Name that song reference. Anyway, for a while now, Influenster has been trying out these obnoxious Virtual Voxbox campaigns where they neither send items nor coupons for items, but expect you to create content. They send these out under the guise of a contest, but in reality they’re trying to get users to generate free content and market for them.
Here’s an e-mail I got recently. I’ve gotten two more since for the same campaign:
I didn’t even complete a qualifier for this. Just out of nowhere, “You’re in! … Now go do shit on social media for a CHANCE to win one of 150 products.”
Or, you know, not.
The Bottom Line
I can’t recommend Influenster for what it has become, and I have deactivated my account. I refuse to spam people. Maybe they’re trying to reach a younger crowd that is accustomed to this obnoxious behavior, but I don’t have time for it. I refuse to waste hours of time on a <$10 product, period, and I refuse to spam people.