A Different Approach on How to Use Influencers in the Supplement Industry

by Matt Weik

If you scroll through your social media accounts, you will more than likely stumble across quite a few “influencers” who are out there pushing their discount code to “save you a ton of money” on your supplements. That may be great for the consumer, but how does this all affect a supplement company? Leveraging influencers and brand ambassadors can be extremely advantageous, but it can also cause quite a bit of concern. Let’s discuss a few things that should be thought about.

Choose the Right Crew

One of the first things a brand should be focusing on is how they vet their influencers. Do you allow just anyone to be an influencer in a measure of creating the largest network, or should you specifically pick and choose influencers based on their resume?

The first side of the spectrum is the spray and pray method, where you allow anyone and everyone to sign up and become a brand ambassador. As an influencer, they then use their friends and followers to push a specific supplement company. The unfortunate part is that some influencers represent several brands and have multiple codes. While in their eyes, it’s a slam dunk as they have the opportunity to make more money by partnering with multiple brands, in the end, it throws up a red flag to prospective buyers.

Then on the other side of the spectrum, specifically choosing a small group of influencers and brand ambassadors, keep things tight and controlled as not to “whore out” a brand. What many people fail to realize is not only does the supplement company need to eat the discount they allow influencers and brand ambassadors to give out, but then they need to compensate the individual as well. This can significantly shrink their margins.

Tons of Influencers May Not Be Ideal

I’m not going to specifically call out brands, but I’m sure there are a few that pop into your mind when it comes to seeing everyone pushing a discount code. As a consumer myself, this is a complete turnoff and annoying. No one wants to see a brand pushing in their face multiple times a day. To me (and many others), it devalues a supplement brand to see them allowing their brand to be pushed by so many people – especially those who have no idea what they are talking about and are only in it to make a few bucks.

If your brand hires uneducated individuals, you are setting yourself up for a lawsuit. Far too many influencers and brand ambassadors are out there making outlandish claims about a brand that are 100% false and inaccurate. Just as bad would be if the influencers and brand ambassadors aren’t a good reflection of the brand itself. Both cases can negatively affect business.

The whole purpose of having influencers and brand ambassadors as part of your brand is to help educate people and introduce them to your brand or a specific product, right? Well, what happens if the individual you bring on to help accomplish this is providing information that is hurting people? This can be poor exercise advice or telling people the wrong way to use the supplements that can cause negative side effects. This is going to hurt the image of a supplement brand being associated with such influencers and brand ambassadors.

Or just as bad, what if the person you bring on to represent your company is a hot head and is always getting into fights over the internet? Is that the kind of look you want for your business? Probably not. It’ll be a bad representation of your business and can potentially hurt your reputation and sales.

For that very reason is why I recommend a different approach on how to use influencers and brand ambassadors to build your business and sales.

Interview Applicants as If They Were Actual Employees

If you want to find the best people to represent your supplement brand, you’re going to want to get on the phone or Skype to interview applicants. Hiring someone blindly, as mentioned above, can be disastrous. Sure, this is going to take some time out of your week to interview applicants, but in the end, you’ll feel better knowing the people you’re working with to promote your brand.

Ask the applicant questions about your brand, their supplement knowledge, and fitness experience. Are they a personal trainer? Are they a nutritionist? Are they an athlete? Do they compete? What do they bring to the table, and why should you hire them? How many followers/friends do they have? How is their engagement? Who is their demographic? Ask whatever you feel is relevant to help you get a better sense of who the person is and if they are a good fit for your brand. And be ok with the fact that not everyone you interview is going to be a good fit.

Keep Your Network Small

My thought process on this is probably a lot different than what most are considering. The “more is better” approach is not always the best way to grow your business. Personally, if I were looking to hire influencers or brand ambassadors for my brand, I would only make a few specific partnerships. I don’t want anyone and everyone to be able to rep my brand. I want the best of the best, and I want them to perform. I don’t want no-name Nick to be out there pushing my brand to a bunch of people who aren’t going to be interested in my products and who will get a bad taste in their mouth about my brand being pushed in every other post because all they want to do is make a commission.

Be specific with your choices and choose those who truly believe in your brand and the vision you have for it. Make sure everything aligns. When you do this, it’s more believable to those seeing the posts as the individual should already be showing images using the products and maybe even making some content that shows the product being used. Never bring someone on who has never tried or used your products.

I would much rather have 10 amazing influencers and brand ambassadors on my team who produce 100 orders every month than 1,000 influencers and brand ambassadors that produce 20 orders. Think quality over quantity.

How you decide to structure your program is completely up to you. But devaluing your brand with poor candidates helps no one. Compensate your tight group accordingly and treat them as if they are an intricate part of your business. They will appreciate the attention and will be more willing to help the brand. Maybe you work with them by including them at events where they can come help work your booth? Little extra gestures can go a long way and help them feel more like a part of the brand.