by Matt Weik
When you think of a used car salesman, what comes to mind? Pushy? Always trying to sell anything and everything? Someone who really has no idea what they’re talking about and are chasing the almighty dollar? Will say anything to get you to buy? You can fill in the blank with whatever feeling you have about them, but at the end of the day, fitness influencers have taken over their role.
I’m willing to bet I’m going to offend more people than I can count with this article, but I honestly don’t care. Something needs to change, and I can’t blame the fitness influencers entirely. When looking at the landscape today, it’s impossible not to say that social media is beneficial for brands in terms of marketing. Brands hire people like fitness influencers to push their products in return for free product or a small commission.
Why is this a bad thing? After all, the brand makes sales, and fitness influencers are compensated for their work, no? Seems like all is well in the world, right? Wrong. Here’s why I have a major issue with fitness influencers today.
A Used Car Salesman + Someone Who Pushes a Product They Don’t Even Use
I want to start this section by saying, I fully understand that you can sell something but not have enough money to purchase and use what you’re selling. It’s actually common for people to take a job in sales and not really have a love for the product or even the brand. It’s simply a paycheck to them. It’s sad, but it’s the reality of things.
That said, I want to share my thought process and opinion on this. In fact, I’m going to share an experience I had, and it might come off a little harsh, but nevertheless…
A couple of years ago, I was looking to upgrade my Audi to a newer model. I went to the dealership, and a salesman walked up and asked if they could help me. I mentioned I wanted to get rid of my A4 and wanted to check out the new A6 model. He walked me around the lot and showed me what they had, and I eventually took a test drive.
When we got back to the dealership, we sat down at his desk and talked about the vehicle, what price they would be willing to go down to, etc. During the conversation, he mentioned that he personally loves everything about the model, said it’s one of his favorite vehicles and that Audi stands behind their product and quality. Sure, it all sounds nice.
I then asked him what model he drives. His response was, “Oh, I don’t have an Audi. I drive a Kia.” If you were to take a snapshot of my expression, it might have resembled a deer in the headlights. I asked him if it seemed strange that he was pushing me to purchase a vehicle from a brand he doesn’t even own. He had no answer for me.
Again, that may sound harsh, but I genuinely believe that you should own and use the product if you want to sell and recommend something. I mean, if you’re a supplement company and you obviously sell your own products, why would you go purchase and use another company’s product if you have your own exact product and are trying to tell everyone that your product is the best? By not using your own product, you’re basically saying the opposite.
How Does This All Tie in With Fitness Influencers?
You could literally pull out the car salesman in the example I provided above from my actual experience and plug in a fitness influencer. It’s a paycheck. Period. Sure, there are outliers who do love a brand, but most are selling a product based on how much money they can make.
If you watch fitness influencers today, they’ll sell you anything and everything as long as a brand pays or compensates them. It’s actually quite sad. I can’t tell you how many people on Instagram I see on my feed who are pushing one brand today and a different brand tomorrow. Oh, and don’t forget to use their discount code at checkout (LOL).
These fitness influencers aren’t using the product. Who are they kidding? When you have four different posts every week pushing different products, and you’re not an employee of the company, don’t own the company, and aren’t an athlete under contract with the company, everyone knows what’s going on. You’re trying to make a commission.
Heck, I get it. It’s capitalism, baby! Make that money. But there’s a level of authenticity that I feel is really lost today. Everyone is chasing the dollar versus getting behind a brand they trust and ONLY pushing that brand. These days it comes down to how easily you can sign up to be an affiliate of a brand and start plugging their products to get a commission check at the end of the month.
I think affiliates can absolutely help brands. But at the same time, I feel as if they can destroy them as well. If I see everyone and their brother peddling the same product, I don’t think, “WOW, that must be a huge company with all of these people talking about their products.” Instead, I think, “Dang, these people are desperate and will allow any bum to sell their products… something seems off about the brand if they need that much help.”
Brands need to do a better job of vetting who they have on their affiliate programs. Many have the mindset that they want as many people pushing their brand as possible. That’s going to backfire in the end. Brands should be selective with what fitness influencers they want supporting their brand. Vet them out, interview them, and hop on a Zoom call to discuss the opportunity and get a better feel for the individual and how they can help the brand.
If you’re an influencer and I offended you, it’s probably because you’re doing exactly what I’m saying in this article. If you’re one of the fitness influencers out there who actually uses products from a specific brand and stands behind them, I applaud you for doing it the right way. Overall, we need more authenticity from fitness influencers. And the only way to do that is if brands start being more selective with who they work with and how their affiliate program works.