Instagram x Amazon Reviews: The Difference Between Being a Collaborator and Being a Target

Instagram x Amazon Reviews: The Difference Between Being a Collaborator and Being a Target


I haven’t been keeping up with @zoraflorasays lately so I haven’t had much to write about, but with an increase in Amazon reviews I’ve picked it back up (at least for a while). Over the long weekend I realized that when you’re doing reviews (or trying to sell things) on Instagram other people are more likely to try to sell you on things as well (I’ve never gotten messages like these on @JonesDoesLife, probably because it isn’t a beauty/review themed account).

Sometimes these messages are hard to identify because there are also people who legitimately want you to review things for them, and due to broken English and  bad grammar it becomes increasingly hard to figure out who’s spam and who’s not. 

How to Identify If Someone Is trying To Sell You Something

The following message is from someone who works as an independent contractor to sell the Rodan + Fields product line.

She’s super sweet (they always are) and offers a free gift if I’m “interested in learning more” but there are a few reasons why this raises a lot of red flags for me:

  1. She’s an independent contractor who’s running her own business and I don’t have nearly enough followers for me to benefit her in terms of publicity
  2. This is obviously a script that’s trying to not be a script (see the multiple exclamation points and question marks), the bait is the “mini facial” but she really wants is to “tell [me] more”  and get my ear
  3. It’s in her interest to be the person who introduces me to this product because she is the one who will benefit from it/who I would eventually be ordering from

But you’re saying, “Johna, you could just get the facial and then never buy anything, what’s the harm in that?”

I am here to let you learn from my mistakes, it started off with an innocent message:

I thought, “Hey, this is a fun collaboration and I like essential oils, I am totally down for this.” After I received them the guy gave me some in depth instructions for how to use them, and asked me how they were working out. I talked about them on my Instagram story and tagged him in it for the good “publicity” I thought he might be going for.

And that’s when I realized that he didn’t want to just sell me on the oils, he was trying to convert me to be one of his underlings.

I was trying to be nice when I said I didn’t have time and am generally non-confrontational (I don’t know how much this would have helped this situation) but he was certainly persistent. Over the next month he continued to send me messages (and emails) asking me to take classes, buy oils, and set up my own account. Since then I have refused to respond to any messages that start with “Hey, are you familiar with…?” because I don’t want to end up in this kind of situation again.

If you actually want to buy the products, go ahead (they’re legitimate products). If you don’t, there are a few rules to easily identify these messages:

  • The person is always representing a company that has a pyramid-type scheme
  • Even if you’ve never heard of the company, if you search around a bit you’ll see a lot of people selling similar products (i.e. Mary Kay, LulaRoe, LipSense, etc.)
  • The message will offer you something in order to get you to respond

What To Look For In An Actual Review Request

This is Michelle, I got a message from her today asking me if I’d post pictures on Instagram of the product she’s trying to promote. Here’s why Michelle is totally legit:

  1. There is no subtlety. She has spelled out the entire interaction in her first message: “I want you to test our product and then take a picture and post it”
  2. She’s given me links to the product/website so I can check it out for myself, there’s no secrecy or weirdness about it
  3. She’s given me multiple channels to communicate with her – often this will be Facebook, email, or WeChat (common in Asian countries)
  4. Companies that give away products tend to produce a lot (they may be the actual manufacturers and can afford to give away pieces) and they are often located in places not-the-US. Having someone contact you with broken English is a sign that whoever it is is actually working with the manufacturer.

If a person messages you with a request like this, it’s way more likely that if it falls through it’ll be because someone doesn’t respond, not because someone is trying to harass you into buying their service.


If a person messages you who is an independent contractor, only respond if you either want the product or don’t mind being harassed a little bit. Don’t let free samples tempt you into thinking that they value what you’re trying to do.

The people you want to work for are those with zero subtlety – who will tell you exactly when and where you’re getting paid and what the products are. They aren’t trying to sell you on the product, they’re trying to get you to sell other people on it.