The title is supposed to be read in the tone of a policeman telling a suspicious person to stop whatever he's doing. Sir, step away and put your hands up!
OK, on to the good stuff.
Instagram posts can be bought. You're familiar with the practice, right?
Celebrities or influencers who have a gazillion followers (or any significant number) can monetize their audience by accepting 'Instagram review' requests. They can be paid up to RM2,000 for each post.
What's the alternative?
This is different from brand endorsements. With endorsements, the celebrity or influencer will be given the actual product.
They get to use it themselves and tell us what they think of it (honest or biased, we don't know). But there's a sense of effort and involvement.
When we see that they promote it because they enjoy it, we perceive something of the brand's personality. We feel that it's a legitimate product worthy of their attention. (If it's good for them, it must be good for us) It's like their star factor is rubbing off of the product.
But with 'Instagram reviews', there's often NO involvement whatsoever. The celebrity/influencer asks you to provide a photo AND the caption. They post it and that's that. It's pure advertising and their Instagram is the TV.
Should you pay for Instagram reviews?
I'm not saying this won't bring you good results. You'll probably get a few hundred followers from that 'review'. Maybe make a significant number of sales. But those are good SHORT-TERM results.
Consider the message that you're really sending. The followers know you paid to be advertised in that Instagram. So did many others. What makes you special?
Your offers? Low prices? Sale, sale and more sale? How many sale parties do you have to throw to keep them interested?
If you have sale parties and give discounts ALL the time, you become known as the discount brand. Customers won't want to pay full price anymore.
You can't be a premium brand if you pay for 'Instagram reviews'. You just can't. What's a premium brand that you like? For me, it's Moleskine. I'm a stationery nut.
Moleskine would NEVER pay for an Instagram review. It's famous now, so it doesn't have to. But can you imagine it doing that? No, amirite? It's just not proper for its image (and pricepoint).
If you want to charge premium prices, step away from the Instagram review.
P.S. So what's the alternative? I'll discuss that in the upcoming article (Monday, 29th Feb). Swing by the website in the AM to read it!