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Have you ever received one of those DMs on Instagram with a collab deal from a brand?
Have you been wondering if it’s a real collab or if it’s a scam?
Then you’re in the right place because today we’re going to talk about 7 Instagram collab scams to avoid.
I decided to write this blog post because I’ve had some conversations about this topic recently and I think it will be helpful for more people to know about these.
I have a few friends on Instagram who are trying to become influencers or build their own businesses online.
A lot of people want to build a business online these days and make money online, and for good reason since it can be such a profitable business that offers a lot of built in freedom.
The other day I got a question from one of these friends and she was asking me about some of these brand collaborations. She got a DM from a brand and she was asking if it’s real or if it’s a scam.
A lot of people struggle with this, especially in the beginning stages, to know if a brand that’s approaching you is actually a real one or if it’s just a scam.
That conversation with my friend kind of sparked this idea to write this blog post. Because I don’t want people to fall for those scams.
So I’m going to share with you today 7 Instagram collab scams that you really should avoid as a social media content creator.
If you get DMs or emails like this, they are most likely spam and you can just ignore them, because they’re not gonna do you any favors or they might even get you in trouble.
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7 Instagram Collab Scams to Avoid
1. DMs saying you won a giveaway
The first scam is not necessarily one you get from a brand, but it’s a very common one these days.
This is a DM that you get from someone saying that you won a giveaway and then they usually have a link for you to click or something they want you to fill in with your details.
Or they might say to go to the link in their bio and click a link.
Absolutely don’t do that!
When someone hosts a giveaway on their account, they will never create a second account to let you know that you’ve won the giveaway.
They will always announce it on their main one.
Why would they create a second account just to announce the winners?
So if you get a DM like that, always go to that profile and check that is the main account, that real person on whose account you entered the giveaway.
If it’s a scammy account, it looks fake, it looks like it’s got zero followers maybe, or it doesn’t really have any other content, then you can just ignore that message. Don’t click on any links, so they don’t get any of your details.
Giveaway winners will always be announced by that main account you entered it on, so just be aware of this, because it’s a scam that’s been going around and it’s becoming so much more frequent these days.
2. Amazon seller, you buy a product, they refund you after you leave a review
This second scam is the one my friend was asking about.
She got a DM from an Amazon seller, apparently, and they were asking for her to purchase a product from their Amazon shop, to leave a review and then they will refund her.
Basically they were portraying this as getting to keep a free product in return for that review.
This is a no-no, I wouldn’t recommend getting involved in a deal like this, because it is most likely a scam.
Real brands that reach out to you, even if it’s for gifted products (aka products that you get for free in return for content), they will never ask you to pay for anything.
They will gift you the free product if they want to and then if you want to, you will go ahead and create content for them with that free product.
But they will never ask you to pay for something yourself.
This thing with the Amazon seller, where you review and then you get the refund, this is just a no-no. Don’t do that because it’s most likely a scam and it’s just such a disservice to you and to your followers as well.
P.S. If you’re looking to get paid sponsorships for your Instagram, we cover exactly how to pitch and how much to charge for sponsorships in the Instagram Glow Up Kit.
3. Become a brand ambassador. They give you a discount on products and you have to promote them.
This is something that I get a lot as well in my messages.
This type of scam comes as a DM from a brand saying they want you to become their brand ambassador.
Basically what you get from this kind of collaboration, or just becoming an ambassador for this brand, is you get a discount code and that’s it.
So the “collab” is you have to buy their products, using that discount code, and then you promote the products for free. You create content for them for free and then you are their ambassador.
They will usually say “Oh but we have this affiliate program, so you can earn money that way”.
Are brand ambassadors on Instagram legit?
So is this a real collaboration or is it a scam?
No, it’s not a real collab. This is not you becoming a brand ambassador, this is just you buying their products, at a discounted price. With the obligation on top to promote their products.
Now there’s nothing wrong with buying products on a discount code, but I feel like if they constrain you to create content for them and do all of these things on top of just basically buying a product, I wouldn’t do that personally.
Again, that’s not you being a brand ambassador, it’s just you getting a discount and buying their products.
4. Brand deals where you get a free product, but have to pay for “delivery only”.
The next type of scam that’s also really frequent is when brands approach you and they say they’ll give you a free product in return for content, but you have to pay for delivery.
They will usually kind of mask this as basically you paying for the product, because the delivery will be a bit higher than it would normally be.
Again, if you have to pay for something like this, it’s usually a scam and it’s not something legit. Or the products might not be good quality, because a brand that does these things like have you pay for delivery or have you just get a discount on their products, they’re most likely not a trustworthy and quality brand.
I wouldn’t get involved with a brand like that.
Again, gifted campaigns work like this: you get a free product (completely free) and you create content for them, without having to pay yourself for anything.
5. Fake brand accounts that contact you (and say “check out our main social account”)
This scam is when a brand might have an account that looks similar to the main account to a brand that’s well known, but their username is slightly different.
And they say in their DM something like “go check out our main account, we are just approaching you on behalf of them”.
I would never respond to a DM like that, because it doesn’t seem trustworthy to me and it’s generally the type of brand that does those scammy “brand ambassador” type of collaborations.
If you think about it, why would they create a separate account to contact you and not just use their main brand account if they’re a reputable brand?
I will tell you right now, for all the big brands that I’ve worked with, they have never approached me from a second account. They were always approaching me from that main one.
Even if it has a lot of followers and it seems like they might be super busy, it’s not like that brand’s CEO sits down to DM everybody. They obviously have people who do this for them, like social media managers.
So I would never trust a message from a separate account like that, only the main one.
6. Brands that email you with random sponsorship rates they want to pay you
This next one is something that I’ve been getting a lot in the past month or so and I’ve been getting this through my email actually, so not necessarily the DMs.
But I’m getting emails from really big brands, but it’s obviously fake because the emails generally look weird, they’re not even spelled right it. Also the email text just doesn’t look professional at all, but they’re from big brands like Nike or Zara or generally big brands that you would know.
The emails go something like this “we’ll pay you a thousand or two thousand dollars for some content”.
The fact that a brand approaches you and just blurts out a rate like that, that’s just not how it works for legit brand deals.
Most of the time, when a big brand approaches you, they will ask you for your rate. They won’t just spit out a rate, especially when it’s such a big number and it’s such a random rate for not even knowing what the deliverables would be.
I’m not saying you couldn’t earn that much, you could definitely earn that from Instagram or YouTube.
However, brands don’t approach you like that. Brands will usually ask you for stats, they will ask you to set your rates, as well as what’s included in that rate.
Whenever you get an email from a brand like that, always check what their email looks like too, because most of the time it won’t be nike.com, but rather it will be just a really weird email that’s not even from the real brand.
7. Engagement loops or follow loops
This one is not brand related, but I really wanted to include this, because I’m still seeing it so much on Instagram and that is engagement loops and follow loops.
Now this is not a scam where they’re trying to get your info (like your bank details) or anything like that, but it is a scam in the sense that they will just inflate your numbers (your follower count, your likes for a certain post etc.), but it will really damage your account in the long run.
If you’re trying to be in this social media business authentically, to really grow, to really make an income from this, then I highly recommend you stay away from engagement loops and follow loops.
Because the thing about these is that it will kind of make you feel really good, because you will get this influx of say 200 or 300 followers in that day that you are in the engagement loop.
Then what will happen is that those followers will soon start going away, because they do not care about you or your content.
And I’m not saying this in a mean way, it’s just the way it is. The people who followed you from those loops are just people who are trying to grow their own accounts. So they won’t be interested in your account anyway.
What happens most of the time with accounts like this who are in engagement loops or follow loops is, throughout the next few weeks or months, they will have a constant decrease in their follower count.
So they will have a lot of unfollows, because that’s what a lot of people do after they are in these follow loops. They will just go and unfollow you after a while. This will also seriously affect your engagement rate, which will:
- Affect your visibility in the Instagram algorithm, so your account won’t get seen as much by people who maybe were genuinely interested in your content.
- Affect your chances of landing brand deals, because brands are really smart these days and they can see through tactics like this.
It’s just really pointless and I feel like it’s such a waste of time. Being in these engagement loops means you basically have to go on all of these accounts and follow and comment.
That’s a lot of time that you could be spending instead creating quality content, pitching to brands to work with and just doing something more productive with your time to be honest.
No shade if you ever did one of these, it’s never too late to switch your focus to actually creating genuine quality content and growing an organic audience.
How can you tell a scammer on Instagram?
Here are a few things to look out for to spot a scammer on Instagram:
- If you look at their profile, they don’t have any or very little content, they might have 0 followers or have a private profile.
- They will say they are a second account to their main profile.
- A scammer will likely try to find a way to get your info, whether they ask you to provide it in the DMs or to fill in your details in a form.
- A scammer will ask you to click a link in the DM or to click the link in their bio.
- They might say you’ve won a giveaway and you need to click something or provide info to receive a prize.
- They might ask you to buy something and say they will refund your product after you leave a review.
How do you know if an Instagram brand is legit?
Here are a few ways to find out if an Instagram brand is legit:
- Check that they have an official website for their brand.
- They have a public profile (not private), they have a bit of a following (not zero followers) and they have content posted on their page.
- They contact you from their main profile, not a spin-off one that has a slightly different username to the main one.
If you get a DM and you feel like it might be legit, but you’re not entirely sure, go to their official website to find their email address and email that brand yourself to see if the message truly came from them.
I do hope you found this post on 7 Instagram collab scams helpful. If you did, maybe share it with another influencer, so that they don’t fall for any of these scams either.
Have you ever gotten one of these DMs yourself? Comment below!