Monday, November 3, 2014

What Does "Sponsored" Mean: Influenster

See background on my disclosure standards and why I'm doing this post here. This post will be somewhat of a living document, and I'll update it if relevant information - either my own decisions or standards set by the sponsor - changes.

Sponsor: Influenster
Type: Marketing network
Contract length: N/A - Products are provided without explicit contract terms. Eligibility for each campaign is determined based on a stand-alone survey for that campaign, as well as one's standing with Influenster based on participation in prior campaigns.
Compensation: Product only. After the initial VoxBox for a campaign, the chance to win additional products from the involved brands can be earned through specified sharing tasks.

Sponsor hashtags
  • @Influenster will be tagged.
  •  #[campaign]VoxBox (current campaign is #ModaVoxBox). 
  • Each brand that has products included in a campaign/VoxBox will have additional hashtags, varying by campaign.

My hashtags: These are hashtags I'm making up to make it clearer when there is indirect compensation or other incentive to post something.
  • #InfluensterBadgeTask will be included on anything being posted to earn points towards the campaign badge, which helps maintain my standing with Influenster and improves odds of being involved in future campaigns.
  • #InfluensterBrandBadge and #contest will be included on anything being posted to earn points towards a brand badge, which enters me in a chance to win additional products from the brand involved.
  • #sponsored will be included on all postings featuring product received from Influenster, regardless of whether or not it was posted to earn points.

Blog post disclosures:

  • The labels "sponsored" and "Influenster" will be indicated. (These are listed in the footer to the post.)
  • The following disclosure will be inserted at the very top of the post: I was given the items in this post for free from Influenster for review purposes, but did not receive any additional compensation. Blog posting and other sharing on social media with brand hashtags was encouraged, but not required in exchange for receiving the products. All opinions are my own. Please see my Influenster disclosure post for additional information, and let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
  • The following disclosure required by Influenster will be inserted at the bottom of the post: Influenster required disclosure: I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

Summary of requirements: There are no explicit requirements in exchange for receiving free products for review/testing purposes. However, performing recommended tasks are encouraged, and will improve your standing to be considered to receive future free products, resulting in an indirect non-monetary compensation for performing the tasks.

How it works

There is no contract (beyond agreeing to general terms of using the website) to sign up an Influenster account and potentially be eligible to receive a "VoxBox" - a package of free products to review and share on social media. Before each campaign, Influenster sends members a survey, they have to respond within a certain time frame and meet eligibility requirements in their survey answers to be mailed a box for that campaign. 

There is no explicit requirement to do anything in response to receiving a VoxBox - I could have received it, never said a word to anyone, never posted anything on my blog or social media, and Influenster and the involved brands would have no recourse against me.

However. Obviously I would then not be considered for any future campaigns! Once you receive a VoxBox, a list of tasks opens up. Each task is worth a specified number of points, and you have to earn 100 points to achieve the campaign "badge". The points for each task are arranged such that you have to perform at least the majority of tasks to to earn the badge. 

Each task includes certain requirements, such as tagging a brand or including a certain hashtag, but otherwise they provide a lot of leeway for how you portray the product on social media. There are options for a variety of platforms - some are specific, such as "post on instagram showing that you spotted X product at X store", some are more generic in platform - "post a picture of you enjoying X product on the platform of your choice", or in content - "blog about the box - the good, bad, and lovely".

It's not clear yet from information available on the website or to be learned from future experience with the organization, but I'm currently operating under the assumption that you have to perform at least some tasks to be considered at all for future campaigns of similar value, and to perform enough tasks to earn the campaign badge to be considered at all for future campaign of higher value.

In addition to unlocking the campaign badge, there are additional tasks you can perform to earn a badge brand for one of the brands involved in the campaign. Completing the brand badge enters you to potentially win additional products from that company (but still not guaranteed - the products will be awarded to the top 10 or 50 or 100 or whatever out of those who complete the badge). 

So for both the campaign badge and the brand badge, although there is no requirement or direct compensation (in product or cash) for posting on social media about the products, there is an incentive to posting, by increasing your odds for receipt of products in the future.

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