I refuse to work for free
An Instagram e-commerce shop owner reached out to me for a collaboration.
After doing a happy dance and envisioning a paid weekend in Lamu, I got down to business. My time had come and I wasn’t about to waste it. Finally, someone had noticed my efforts to grow my Instagram and decided my 1,435 followers were quality and I was going to influence them.
Except I don’t work for free.
The only compensation they offer is discount codes for my followers, and discount codes for me, and more discount codes as the year progresses. They never mentioned compensation for the “nice crisp close-up” photographs I ought to take to promote these products.
Instead of Building an Audience, Instagram Shop Owners “Collaborate”
Here is part of the email sent by the collaboration specialist:
“We love high-quality pictures in fresh & bright environments, crisp close-ups of our products is also highly appreciated. If you provide us with nice pictures & content it usually results in a featured post & story on our Instagram (@redacted) with over 3,000 active followers.”
The collaboration is not mutual because here are the requirements:
1. Reply to this email with your preferred name to be incorporated for the personalized 25% code so I can get that set up for you.
2. Visit our website at www.redacted.com
3. Place products to the cart.
4. Go to the checkout and use the ambassador discount ”OFF50”
5. The Ambassador code will make the order 50% off.
6. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org once you have received the product and published the post.
There’s no information on compensation. The collaboration specialists assume their meagre 3,000 followers is enough incentive for someone to go through all that trouble, in a pandemic.
As a person who’s worked in e-commerce marketing I know 50% off means that it’s a clearance sale and if not, the other 50% will be recovered in international shipping fees. International shipping is at times more costly than the item you’ve bought, especially with the current health crisis.
Every time I see one of these emails I know they’re about to pull their sleazy marketing tactics. They never come right out with their “proposals” but start with something along the lines of:
“I came across your Instagram – and love your content. We are an (insert country) brand aiming to inspire women across the world.
I would love to do a long term collaboration with you throughout 2021.
Please let me know if you would be interested.”
No mention of compensation — they never go for big influencers. If they really want to inspire women across the world, they’d reach out to Kenyan influencers with a huge following. Only they don’t approach them as big influencers charge a ton of money, and are not easy to exploit.
I know very well no one in Kenya is ordering jewellery from Sweden, in a pandemic, with increased delivery charges.
Marketers Need To Stop Thinking They Can Cheat People Into Buying From Them
Consumers can see through the nonsense.
You can never cheat a person into buying. Sure, you might try a couple of marketing gimmicks but if they’re founded on manipulation, they’ll see right through you.
Ethical marketing is about being upfront about your product and sharing it with customers in an honest way that forms a connection.
It’s about being honest with the people you want to collaborate with and stating the compensation in monetary terms. If you don’t have the budget for them, create one or don’t contact them.
Unless both of us are creators working on a project, I don’t see how marketing a product that you’ve manipulated me into buying benefits me.
Instead of “collaborating” with small accounts, create a sustainable and ethical way of marketing your products, otherwise, your collaboration emails will be ignored.
While I’m not keen on monetizing my Instagram page, I’m sure other creators are, especially impressionable users who love the influencer aesthetic. Hopefully, articles such as this one will teach them to never settle for e-commerce scammers.
Being paid in exposure or other non-monetary compensation doesn’t pay rent or utilities. Ask your landlord if they would be willing to be paid in exposure.
It’s 2021, stop wasting people’s time.
This article first appeared on Better Marketing.