Seed, a health supplement business, has launched an education platform for potential brand ambassadors in a bid to safeguard its influencer marketing practice.
In a move that bucks the trend for wellness brands working with a wide network of influencers, Seed is inviting influencers to complete a Seed University course before being considered as partners.
The $4.2 trillion health and wellness industry is no stranger to influencer marketing strategies. Consumers are taking an increased interest in their own health and demonstrating a keenness to test out the latest trends trialled by their favourite influencers. Products that capture the zeitgeist range from probiotics purported to promote gut health to jade rollers, a beauty tool which has migrated from Ancient China to modern day Instagram.
Seed sells a line of daily supplements called synbiotics, a mixture of probiotics and prebiotics that claim to work based on individual users’ digestive system. The product retails for $50 for a month’s supply and the brand has more than 36,000 followers on its brand Instagram account.
It follows that a complex product that can impact on a customer’s health calls for a different influencer marketing approach than, say, a cosmetic or perfume brand that may choose to partner with celebrity endorsers. That’s not to say that supplement brands haven’t used macro-influencers. One example is SugarBearHair, a supplement brand with a focus on hair growth that counts Kim Kardashian West and Kylie Jenner within its influencer roster.
Ara Katz, CEO and co-founder of Seed, has emphasised that the brand wants to work with influencers who are highly informed on its proposition.
“With every trend that has come up within wellness, there has been a fundamental misunderstanding with the science and efficacy of products because of poor communication,” Katz explains. “Social platforms are great to connect with people, but there isn’t a monitoring system in place around truthful information.”
Nearly 1,700 individuals have reportedly registered for Seed University at the time of writing this article. These potential brand ambassadors will only be considered upon completion of a 59-minute curriculum which consists of an orientation and six areas of study. Topics covered include Microbiome 101 and a module on Federal Trade Commission guidelines.
The longer term goal at Seed is to accept 100 to 200 vetted influencers on a rolling basis. To be accepted to the Seed network, potential partners must not belong to any other larger influencer networks. They will reportedly receive a 15% base commission and 100% of the profits from product sales directed to Seed’s website via affiliate links on their social media.
Many of the early participants and potential influencers at Seed University are practitioners in related spheres such as personal training, acupuncture and nutrition.
One such is nutritionist Kelly LeVeque, who explained to Glossy.com: “There is zero trust between what is real and what is marketing. If I’m going to recommend something to my clients, I have to know the ingredients of why something would work for them, because supplements have a cause-and-effect relationship with wellness.
“There are brands like the Perfect Bar, where everyone on the internet knows when they have an influencer budget because everyone is posting about them at the same time; it’s not because it’s a better product or because it is good for you,” said LeVeque.
The academic rigour of the 10-question ‘final exam’ applicants are required to pass at Seed.com may be debatable, but the concept of a required, assessed level of knowledge prior to becoming an influencer is an interesting one.
Perhaps formally educating influencers in a brand’s products or services is a trend that could catch on beyond the wellness sector?
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