Have you ever gotten a comment on your posts from a brand asking you to DM them to collaborate, be a brand ambassador, or influencer? Odds are, you’re about to get scammed.
Unfortunately, influencer scams are a real thing. And I’m realizing a BIG thing!
I have a full list of scam companies that we are aware of HERE.
So, I wanted to point out some red flags to you so that you know what to look out for and hopefully I help you avoid falling victim to these.
These are not absolutes, meaning that some reputable brands may fit into one of these red flags, but that doesn’t mean its a scam, and I’ll go over more details about how to spot a reputable brand. BUT Rule of thumb, if you have never heard of a brand, don’t work with them unless they send you the product FREE to try first.
Whenever there is great opportunity, there is also going to be those who take advantage of people who are seeking these great opportunities.
So, how is this a scam?
The “scam” is that they make people think they are an ambassador and that they are receiving a discount of let’s say 50%, then they raise their prices 50%. You’re nothing more than a new paying customer that is also promoting them for free.
The fact of the matter is if anyone asks you to purchase anything, even at a discount I always say it’s a NO! Especially if you have never heard of this brand.
Promoting a product for a brand is VERY valuable, at the very least they should be giving it to you for free, if not compensating you! If you want to learn more about why you are so valuable to a brand, make sure to listen to podcast episode #1. I give you 14 reasons why influencers are so valuable to a brand from a marketing perspective.
Now I want to go over the 9 red flags to look out for!
RED FLAG #1: If they leave a comment on your picture that tells YOU to dm THEM.
Legitimate companies that want to work with you will almost always email you. Sometimes they will DM you, especially if you don’t have your email on your profile (if you don’t, you need to add it! Either add it as a button or into your bio). In both examples, they reach out to you, and they do not ask you to reach out to them.
I have yet to see a brand that is legitimate reach out to an influencer only in a comment and ask them to DM them.
The reason these brands reach out via comment is because they are using bots, and they are just bulk messaging tons of people to see who will fall for it. And unfortunately, a good amount do.
They do this on a massive scale because it isn’t about you, or wanting to work with influencers. It’s about getting as many people to purchase “discounted” products as they can.
RED FLAG #2: If their comment isn’t from the brands page
Notice how they are commenting from a different account than the businesses account.
Often times they have to make a bunch of fake accounts to use, because the accounts get shut down often. Therefore they don’t ever use the “real brands” account, because they wouldn’t want to get that account shut down.
Use your judgement. For example, sometimes an agent or agency will reach out to you on behalf of a brand. But even so, they will do so professionally and not by a comment.
RED FLAG #3: If you have to buy the product upfront.
Look, there is no reason that you should have to pay for a product if a brand is truly reaching out to work with you.
Sure, there are plenty of affiliate programs where the affiliate can buy the product to demo and make commissions off of the sales and I am ALL about those as explained later in this section. But those are all by choice and legit companies do not go around Instagram Spamming people to come be an “ambassador”. You should only become an affiliate of brands you already know and love.
Again remember, the brand reached out to you! If they truly looked at your profile and found value in you “collabing” then they would be offering you payment or at the VERY least free product.
RED FLAG #4: If their bio says “DM to collab”
If they are heavily promoting that they are looking for brand ambassadors and not promoting being a company to REAL CUSTOMERS, then you can instantly see where their revenue comes from.
Their primary focus will always point out their motives. And in this case, it is to get “ambassadors” to buy their products. Not customers.
Other ways they say it include:
- Become a Brand Ambassador
- Join our Team
- DM to be an influencer
- Influencers wanted
RED FLAG #5: If it’s an Ad
Again, if a brand is spending their money to run an add for their ambassador or influencer program, that is because they are making a lot of money from doing so.
This isn’t always the case, but if they are running ads for this it is most likely a scam, especially if this isn’t the only red flag.
Legitimate brands generally don’t look for influencers in such a broad way. They spend their time searching for the right influencers to reach out to specifically in a professional way, and they look to influencers who pitch them and are truly interested in promoting their products.
RED FLAG #6: If the brands image quality is very poor.
Generally speaking if a brand has poor images on their own profiles and website, they are not very legitimate. Odds are they are probably drop shipping cheap products from China and this is something that you do not want to be involved in.
First of all, your going to be buying a “discounted” product that is coming straight from China that will be worth pennies to the dollar. Second of all, you won’t want to promote that product to your followers so you wont ever make a dime. Third, if you did promote this product and someone ended up spending their hard earned money on it, they are going to be pretty pissed at you and could end up dragging you online.
RED FLAG #7: If the shipping time is over 2 weeks.
In my research for the article I wrote I looked into a number of businesses that you guys submitted. One of them had a shipping time of 5-6 weeks!!!
That is INSANE. People these days don’t have patience for much over 7 days. Very clearly drop shipping from China the cheapest way possible. This is the fine print too, so most people will find out after they have ordered.
This is another red flag that the company is drop shipping from China. Hints why it takes so long to get to you.
The problem with this again, is that you don’t want to be caught up promoting brands that are not reputable because if your followers have a bad experience from a product or brand that you recommended, that’s on you! Do your research.
RED FLAG #8: If you’ve never heard of the brand.
First of all you should never agree to work with a company you have never heard of. At the very least you should accept a free product to test before you decide to work with them.
However, most legitimate companies are ones that you have probably at least heard of before.
This isn’t the biggest red flag, but it is something to think about when considering if a company is legit or not.
Remember, influencer marketing is about promoting products that you have used and tested. Sure there will be brands you never have heard of, but you need to make sure that you try something BEFORE you share it to your audience.
RED FLAG #9: If they only sell “Ambassador” Kits
I found this in my research and it boggles my mind!! The only items listed in their shop are ambassador kits. So, what do the ambassadors sell to their audience? Ambassador kits?
There is no actual business here except selling ambassador kits? Sounds like an actual pyramid scheme.
So, can a legitimate brand have one of these red flags and still be legitimate?
Yes. Of course.
Some reputable brands don’t know what they are doing and might try out some of these methods.
Some reputable brands also know that they have the ball in their court and can offer a discount only and get people to do it because they are so reputable.
Use your gut instinct on this and really decide if it is worth it. Again, a good rule of thumb is to work with brands you already know and love, if one comes your way that you haven’t heard of, but looks legit, and you’re actually interested in it. Then pitch them to send you the product for free AT LEAST and try it first BEFORE agreeing to post about them.
So, now what? There are 2 MUCH better options!
I know that when you’re first starting out you so badly want to collaborate with brands. Which is why these scams work. But there are SO MANY better options!
#1 I really encourage you all to learn how to pitch brands. That is truly the best and only way to make this influencer thing work. Even your favorite celebrity level influencers are pitching!
I created an hour long masterclass all about Landing Legitimate paying brand deals. To register, go to www.thedailycourses.com/masterclass. I’ll also put the link in the episode description.
#2 Sign up for legitimate affiliate programs through your favorite brands and for things you already have purchased! Almost every legitimate company has an affiliate program where you can earn some commission for any sales. Simply google affiliate program and the name of your favorite company and something should pop up. OR scroll to the bottom of their website to their footer menu and see if you see anything about affiliates, influencers, or ambassadors.
Some of you think that because you’re new, smaller, or just starting out- that this is the best you can get right now. That is not the case. Do not settle for these scams. THERE is so much opportunity out there!
Land The Brand$ Masterclass: https://www.landthebrands.com/masterclass
Complete Episode Transcript
Hey there Welcome to The Daily Influencers podcast My name is Erica Marie Daily — former marketer and brand manager, turned your influencer marketing coach. On this podcast we help both influencers and brands, maximize their collaboration, grow on social media make more money and waste less time. Speaking of which, let’s jump right into today’s episode.
Have you ever gotten a comment on one of your posts from a brand asking you to dm them in order to collaborate, be a brand ambassador or be an influencer for them? Well, odds are you’re about to get scammed. And unfortunately influencer scams are a real thing. And I’m realizing just how big of a thing they really are. In fact, how this all came about is because one of you guys
emailed me saying that you think you just got scammed and you want me to look into it. And so I had seen these comments even on my posts. And so I decided to actually kind of do an investigation into this. And in my investigation, I realized just how prevalent this really was. So I decided to write an article about it warning you guys on these influencers scams. And in just the last few months, that article has seen over 100,000 views, which tells me that there’s tons of people out there searching this very topic. And I also put in that article to have people email me if they come up with a new scam that isn’t on my list. And I get about 10 emails a day from you guys sending in these new scam companies. And what’s so great about that is with your guys’s help, I’ve been able to compile a list of companies that I verified are a scam. So if you are interested in finding out which companies might be on that list, I’ll put the link to that in the description for this episode.
But what I wanted to talk about in this episode is I want to point out some red flags to you guys so that you know what to look out for. And hopefully I can help you guys avoid falling victim to these scams. And by the way, don’t feel like you’re dumb for falling for these. I remember years and years ago before influencer marketing was really a thing. I almost fell victim to one of these as well. So even a seasoned pros can fall victim to these sometimes because they’re very, very sneaky. Now something else I want to point out before we jump into the red flags is that these are not absolutes, meaning that some reputable brands might fit into one of these red flags. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a scam. And I’ll go over more details about how you can spot a reputable brand from a scam company later on in the episode. But rule of thumb is if you’ve never heard of a brand, don’t work with them unless they send you the product for free to try first.
Then at that point, you can make the decision on whether you want to collaborate with them, and even ask for money to collaborate with them, because you guys do truly deserve that. So wherever there is great opportunity, there is also going to be those people who take advantage of people who are seeking these great opportunities. So how are these things actually a scam? I want to talk about that first. So the actual scam is that they make people think that they’re going to be an ambassador, and that they’re receiving a discount of let’s say, 50% then they raise their prices 50% and you’re basically nothing more than a new paying customer that’s also now promoting them for free bringing in more customers. And the fact of the matter is, if anyone asks you to purchase anything, even at a discount, I always just say no, especially if you have never heard of this brand, because promoting a product for a brand is very valuable and at the very least they should be giving it to you for free. If not compensating you
If you want to learn more about why you are so valuable to a brand, make sure to listen to podcast episode number one, because I actually give you guys 14 reasons why influencers are so valuable to a brand from a marketing perspective. And it’s really good because I’m sure a lot of you guys probably didn’t even realize that some of these things were even a thing. So now I want to go over nine red flags to look out for. So red flag number one is that if they leave a comment on your picture and tell you to dm them, so legitimate companies that want to work with you will almost always email you know, sometimes they will dm you, especially if you don’t have your email on your profile. And for those of you that don’t have your email on your profile, at least as a button, you need to go at it right now. Add it as a button or add it into your bio but whatever the case, make sure you have some way for a brand to email you. Now I have yet to see a brand that is actually legitimate. Reach out
To an influencer via comment asking them to dm them. So this is a major red flag, there’s a reason that these brands reach out via comment. And that is because they’re actually using bots. And what they’re doing is they’re actually just bulk messaging tons of people. Usually they do it based on a specific hashtag. So, for example, if you hashtag fitness and they’re a fitness company, they’re just gonna spam these comments on anyone that uses that hashtag fitness. And what they’re doing is they’re doing it to as many people as they can to see who will actually fall for it. And unfortunately, a good amount do and they do this on a massive scale, because this really isn’t about you or wanting to work with influencers, and they definitely have not even looked at your profile or like what they see they’ve done zero research on you. The only reason they’re leaving this comment on your profile is probably because you used one of the hashtags that they have set up on their bot. Now what it is about is getting as many
People to purchase these quote unquote, discounted products as they can, they don’t actually run a legitimate business that’s looking for real customers. They’re just trying to get people like you to fall for the trap and purchase these discounted products. And that’s how they make all of their money. Red Flag number two is if their comment isn’t even from the quote unquote, brands page. So something you’ll notice is that you’ll get these comments from a page that isn’t the actual brand that they’re trying to promote this page. And oftentimes, the reason that they do this is because they have to make a bunch of fake accounts to us, because the accounts get shut down really, really often, when they’re sending out these bots, spam comments. And especially if you’re anything like me, I report them because I’m so sick of seeing this. So therefore, they don’t ever use the quote unquote, real brands page because they wouldn’t want to get that account shut down. Now you really do have to use your judgment for this because for example, sometimes in
agent or an agency will reach out to you on behalf of a brand. But even so, they’re going to do so professionally. And they’re not going to do it by commenting on one of your pictures. And it’s not going to be from a random side brands page, it’s going to be from somebody that actually works for the brand. And usually they’re going to do it from the brands page, but it might come from their personal page, if that’s the best way for them to get in touch with you. Especially if you don’t have your email in your bio. So make sure you guys put that in there. No red flag number three is if you have to buy the product up front, even if it’s discounted. Are you loving the podcast? It would mean so much to me if you could take three seconds and leave us a rating or review. All right, back to the episode. Look, there’s no reason that you should have to pay for a product if a brand is truly reaching out to work with you. Sure, there are plenty of affiliate programs where the affiliates can buy the product to demo and make a commission off the sales and I am all about these
But these are all by choice. And legitimate companies don’t have to go around Instagram spamming people to become an ambassador, you should only become an affiliate of brands you already know and love. And remember the brand reached out to you. So if they truly looked at your profile and found value in collabing with you, then they would be offering you payment, or at the very least be offering you a free product. Red Flag number four is if their bio says dm to collab. Now, if they are heavily promoting that they’re looking for brand ambassadors, and not actually promoting being a real company to real customers, then you can instantly see where their revenue comes from. And think about how little of space you have in your bio on Instagram. It’s valuable space. And so the fact that they’re wasting that space to say, DMS to collaborate that just is not a legitimate business. And this just means that their primary focus will always point out their motives. And in this case, it is to get Ambassador
To buy their products, not customers, otherwise, they wouldn’t be putting that in their bio. So some other ways that they say this and things to look out for are become a brand ambassador, join our team, dm to be an influencer or influencers wanted. Again, legitimate companies don’t have to promote that in their bio, because they already know that people are going to be interested in wanting to work with them, and they know that they can reach out if that’s something they want to do. And influencers will pitch these brands that are legitimate, and so there’s no reason for a legitimate brand to have to put that in their bio. Red Flag number five is if it’s an actual ad. So again, if a brand is spending their money to run an ad for their Ambassador or influencer program, that’s probably because they’re making a lot of money from doing so. Now, this isn’t always the case. But if they are running ads for this, it’s most likely a scam, especially if it isn’t the only red flag that they match up with.
legitimate brands generally won’t go looking for influencers in such a broad way. They spend their time searching for the right influencers to reach out to specifically in a professional way. And they look to influencers who pitch them and are truly interested in promoting their products. Red Flag number six if the brand’s image quality is super poor, so generally speaking, if a brand has poor images on their own profiles and websites, they’re not going to be super legitimate in the first place. But odds are, they’re probably dropshipping cheap products from China. And this is something that you do not want to be involved in. And I know that a lot of these dropshippers they use these images that come from those China websites. And a lot of times they’re super bad quality images. So whenever I see that that to me is an instant red flag. And the real reason I don’t want you guys to get involved in anyone that’s doing these drop shipping things from China is first of all, you’re going to be buying a discounted product that is coming
Straight from China, that’s going to be worth pennies to the dollar that you actually spent. Second of all, you don’t want to promote that product to your followers because you’re not ever going to make a dime from that. And third, if you did promote this product, and someone did end up spending their hard earned money on it, they’re going to be pretty pissed off at you that they ended up buying some cheap thing from China. And that could actually end up really hurting your reputation online and losing that trust of your entire audience. And that is something we absolutely do not want. Red Flag number seven is if the shipping time is over two weeks. So in my research for that article I wrote, I looked into a number of businesses that you guys submitted to me, and one of them actually had a shipping time of five to six weeks. That is insane. Can you imagine waiting five to six weeks for something to come or buying something from an influencer and then realizing on week four that your product still hadn’t arrived, and then realizing that it’s a five to six week wait time people don’t have patience for much more than that.
Seven days, let alone anything less than two days like prime shipping. And when I was looking on this website, the fact that they take five to six weeks to ship was in super, super fine print. So most people wouldn’t even find out until after they ordered and they’re wondering where the heck their order is. This is actually another major red flags that the company is drop shipping from China, hence why it takes so long to get to you. So the problem with this again, is that you just don’t want to be caught up promoting brands that are not reputable. Because if your followers have a bad experience from a product or brand that you recommended, that’s on you. So make sure that you do your research before you jump into anything that might seem a little bit suspicious. Red Flag number eight, if you’ve never even heard of the brand. Now this isn’t a huge red flag because obviously we can’t know every single company that’s out there. But this is something to think about when considering if a company is legitimate or not. And remember influencer marketing is about promoting products that you have actually
used and tested. sure there’s going to be brands you’ve never heard of. But in that case, you need to make sure that you try something before you ever share it to your audience. Red Flag number nine, if they only sell Ambassador kits. Now you guys when I was researching this one actually blew my mind. So this one website only listed items for sale that were Ambassador kits. So what the heck are the ambassadors supposed to sell to their audience, more Ambassador kits. So there’s no actual business here except selling Ambassador kits. This to me sounds like an actual pyramid scheme. So now I want to answer the question, can a legitimate brand have one of these red flags and still be legitimate? Well, yes, of course they can. So some reputable brands don’t know what the heck they’re doing. And they might try out some of these methods just to try it because they see it going around. And so we can’t always discount it.
Every single brand when we see them fitting into one of these categories, and also something to think about is some reputable brands know that they have the ball in their court, and they can offer a discount only, and get a ton of people to do it, because they are so reputable. So I really want you guys to use your gut instinct on this and really decide if it’s worth it to you. And definitely if they fit into multiple of these red flags, that should be a huge alarm going off in your head. And again, a good rule of thumb is to work with brands that you already know and love. And if one comes your way that you haven’t heard of, but it looks legit, and you’re actually interested in working with that brand or checking it out, then pitch them to send you the product for free at least and try it before agreeing to post about them. Now I want to read you three examples from emails that you guys sent in to me about some of the scams that you fell victim to and some of them are so bizarre. And then after I read you guys these three examples, I’m going to tell you to
Different ways that you can actually work with legitimate brands. So Christina wrote in and said, the company, Artemis, one of their deals was to only pay shipping for these Victorian pet pictures. I paid shipping and didn’t read the small print that the pictures would actually only be sent by email, not a physical copy, and the quality was so awful. And then I wondered why the heck did I pay shipping in the first place when they weren’t actually shipping something? So this one’s really sneaky, because in her mind, she’s like, okay, they’re sending me this for free and I’m covering the shipping because why should they have to pay for that out of pocket? Come to find out they’re not actually shipping anything. So there’s no reason she should have had to pay shipping, and they’re just sending her a digital copy, which cost them literally zero dollars. So that one really boggled my mind. Those people had a lot of balls to actually ask her to do that and then email it. The next one was Kyle and he wrote in saying, they told me that I could earn commission from all of myself.
sales. And so I figured it didn’t hurt to pay a little upfront. I had a few friends who ended up purchasing products with my code. And I never heard or got paid. So I emailed the brand a few times, and they completely ignored me. I doubt they ever plan on paying me a percentage in the first place. Now, this can absolutely happen and I have heard of this happening. But I want you guys to remember that there are reputable companies that will pay you commissions on codes that you use. So don’t think that if they say we’ll pay you a commission, that you’re not going to get paid and that’s a scam because that part of it isn’t a scam, but there’s always going to be people who don’t follow through. And again, if you have to pay for something upfront, that is a red flag that you might be working with a company that’s going to scam you.
Bollea wrote in and said, I paid for the products and never got anything. I tried reaching out to them and got no response. So I looked them up and there were tons of other people who had the same issue. Man, this one really blew
My mind. So this company had people buy the products at a discount as an influencer, and then never even sent them. And they’ve done this multiple times. Now this is really, really rare. And if this does happen to you definitely reach out to your bank and get that refunded. And then report them to, you know, the Better Business Bureau and hopefully we can get these type of companies shut down because that is like a major scam that they are running. So I’m sure a lot of you guys are thinking, Okay, so now what? Well, there’s too much better options for you guys. And I know that when you’re first starting out, you so badly want to collaborate with brands, which is why these scams actually work. But there are so many better options. So option number one is I really encourage you guys to learn how to pitch brands. This truly is the best and only way to make this influencer thing work and to actually make money and work with legitimate companies, especially when you’re pitching the companies that you actually want to work with. Even your favorite solo
Level influencers are pitching to brands. So I actually created an hour long masterclass that’s completely free, all about landing legitimate paying brand deals. To register for this free masterclass, all you have to do is go to WWW dot daily courses.com slash masterclass. And I’ll also put the link to that in the episode description. So don’t worry about trying to write that down. Now number two is that you can actually sign up for legitimate affiliate programs, through your favorite brands and for things you already have and have purchased. Now almost every legitimate company nowadays has an affiliate program. And this is where you can sign up and earn some commission for any sales that you might generate for that brand. Now, a simple Google search will actually pull up the affiliate program, so all you have to do is Google affiliate program, and then the name of your favorite company and something should pop up. Or another way to find their affiliate program is scroll to the very bottom of their website to their footer.
menu. And if you see anything about affiliates, influencers or ambassadors, click into it and see what they’re offering. And they might actually be offering a discount on products, which is great. Because again, giving a discount for products to anybody that wants to sign up for an ambassador or affiliate program is not a scam. But when these companies are reaching out to you, and they’re not legitimate, and they want you to buy these products at a discount, that’s the red flag. But don’t just think that because of companies offering you a discount that they’re a scam, because these companies aren’t actively trying to get people to do that. They’re just offering it to people who really enjoy their brand and want to share about it. So to wrap this up, I know a lot of you guys are just starting out or haven’t ever worked with a brand. And so you think that this is all you can get to work with these scam type companies, because you’re just starting out, but I want you guys to remember that there is so much opportunity out there for you guys. And especially if you learn how to pitch you can actually work with companies that you want to work with.
They’ll actually send you free products if not pay you to work with them. And that’s even for those of you guys that are very very small influencers so if you’re curious and learning more about that make sure that you guys sign up for the free masterclass.
Thank you so much for listening. If you liked what you heard, it goes a long way if you could take 30 seconds and leave me a five star review and share this podcast with your friends. Alrighty guys, I’ll see you on the next episode.