It’s 2016, it has never been easier for a rider to get a message to their favorite pro rider or hit up a brand with a question about a product or something else that they could answer. With that easy ability for communication, there’s undoubtably going to be a lot of questions coming through on those direct messages from people all over the world. When you’re in charge of constantly answering those questions in multiple languages (shout out to Google Translate), you start to see a lot of frequently asked questions that you get really good at leaving in the pending message requests or giving a quick answer that essentially means no. When we were at Interbike we asked a few people who handle social media accounts for brands what some of their least favorite messages to get in their direct messages. Maybe we’re turning into that salty old guy, or maybe we’ve just seen enough weird messages that it pushed us over the edge and felt it was time to say something… So, we decided to compile a list of five things that you should (in our opinion) AVOID asking when you are hitting up a brand on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
5. The Warranty Card
A while back we covered What Does A Warranty Cover? that explained what some of the different levels of warranties cover and why some things are covered and why other things aren’t. A product breaking isn’t uncommon in BMX. When you see the stuff people put their bikes through, it’s a miracle they’re still alive and the bike hasn’t exploded into a shrapnel disaster. Unfortunately, there’s a big difference between a manufacturer defect and damage caused by riding and a good number of people don’t really know how that all works. There are really only about three routes that the conversation can go…
1. You first off ask if the product can be replaced or if it’s covered by warranty. Being polite in this situation goes a long way. If you filled out the warranty card, have the receipt for proof of purchase and you’re in the time frame (90 days to 1 year is common) and it’s not caused because you beat the hell out of it, then you’re good and these messages are great… That’s about the only good way this can go.
Now, two ways it can go wrong…
2. You politely ask if a brand will replace a product that you have had for a long time, it’s scratched and beat to hell and clearly broke because it gave out from a lot of abuse, not because the product was defective from the manufacturing process. Then you’re out of luck. A brand cannot control how you ride your bike and isn’t responsible when you destroy it. That’s like saying Apple is responsible for your screen cracking when you dropped it on the ground.
3. When you break something and you hit up a brand rudely demanding a replacement and try to threaten blasting the brand on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. to make sure nobody ever buys from the brand again, then you have just voided any chance of getting a smooth warranty process. If you’re willing to do that, then why do you want a replacement in the first place? We understand it’s frustrating when you break something, but blowing up a brands DMs, causing a bunch of unnecessary drama isn’t in the warranty instructions that came with that frame. We checked.
Seriously… Check out What Does A Warranty Cover?
In short, demanding a warranty and being impolite is something to avoid.
4. You should follow me and give me a shout out!
Now, some brands do give shout outs to people. For example, Subrosa and Volume both post up bikes they have submitted with their products, which is cool. Don’t get us wrong here. We’re not trying to discourage you completely. There’s a time and place for a shout out. But when you’re dropping a line demanding a follow and/or a shout out for no reason at all other than you just want to feel like you’re super cool and famous, there’s a good chance you won’t be receiving a response or adding another follower to your count. Brands are not on these social media channels to promote you (unless you happen to be a team rider, then expect to be promoted), they’re there to promote the brand and their products, while answering questions for the consumers.
So, in short… avoid asking a brand to give you a shout out for no reason unless they’re doing bike shout outs or something like that. The shout outs are just a way to get their products in front of more people and to say thanks for buying their products and supporting the brand by purchasing their products.
3. Just Saying What’s Up…
This one will probably make us sound like an asshole, but until you experience it… You don’t even know how annoying this one is. Imagine at some point in your day, somebody messages you and says “what’s up?”, “what are you doing?”, “Hey” or something that you would text your buddy, but they don’t have anything else to say or ask? Add in the additional random emoji a couple minutes later or something to send an additional reminder that they messaged you and you haven’t responded. As a brand, the direct message feature is really meant as an easy way for a person to ask a question that is specific to the brand. You know, “what sizes and colors does this come in?”, “Do you have this product in stock?”, “I am having an issue with this product, can you help me figure it out?”, “Do you know any shops in this area or how a shop can get product?”. So, if you’re looking for a random conversation, stick to your friends. Brands are just here to help answer a question about their brand or products.
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2. Can I have free products?
This is one of those weird questions that is asked just about as often as number one on this list. There’s that saying “you never know unless you try”, but hopefully this one clears this up. This question is asked in a few different forms and sometimes it’s hard to come up with an answer that doesn’t make you look like a complete asshole. There’s the blatant “hey, can you give me free parts?”, there’s the “Would you be interested in collaborating with me. I would like a free frame / parts / bike / etc. in exchange for me promoting your brand through my social media channels” and then there’s the “Hey, my bike got stolen / I’m down on my luck / my parents hate me and won’t buy me one / I have a rare disease killing me / I have no money / can you give me a new bike?”
Now, the whole blatantly asking thing is pretty bold, and oddly enough at least they are being honest and not beating around the bush, but you’re not going to be getting a yes unless whoever you’re asking is having a damn good day or decided to answer messages after a few too many drinks. The odds aren’t very good. Think of it this way. If a brand gave away free product to every person that asked, there’s a very good chance that they will not be around for very long because it happens ALL THE TIME. So, next time you want to ask for a free product, ask yourself if you were running a business and had somebody come in and ask / demand a free product from your store… Would you just give it to them? The answer should be no.
The exchange of product for promotion thing is one of those grey areas because realistically, this method *could* work… If you had a massive following (a lot more than the brand has is usually a good gauge) and were good at promoting products in creative and unique ways. Another key is actually being into the brand or the products you’re promoting. Oddly enough, a lot of these requests come in from people that don’t even ride. Unless you have a lot to offer a brand and a clear plan of how you’re going to promote the brand and its products, this is most likely not going to happen. If you’re killing it on social media and a brand wants their products seen by your followers, they will likely reach out to you if they’re interested. So, just avoid asking…
The story is a tricky one. Humans are usually empathetic, so when somebody hits you with a story about a rough time they’re going through or makes it sound like finding the money to get a bike or a new frame is impossible because of their current situation, it’s definitely hard turning it down. Unfortunately for every one person who is actually going through a hard time and could actually benefit from some support, there’s a bunch of people leveraging their completely made up story to scam the brand in hopes of getting free product. So, this isn’t going to happen. It’s a bummer, but a brand cannot afford to be giving everything away just because you’re in a tight spot. Imagine having to give away 20 bikes a month because somebody wasn’t able to buy a bike? That’s thousands of dollars that would just be given away… Avoid asking.
1. Will you sponsor me?
The number one most asked question in the DM’s. Sometimes a riding clip is sent through, sometimes a link to an actual video, sometimes it’s a photo and sometimes it comes with promises of promoting the brand everywhere you go! That’s great, but it’s 2016 and that’s not how it happens. I’m sure it has helped get a few riders on a brands radar by putting themselves out there, but the odds of you getting sponsored because you asked a brand in their DM is pretty low. Alright, it’s very low.
Brands aren’t looking for the kid that can do all the tricks or the kid that has a huge following on Instagram. They want a rider that has talent, but also has a great personality. They want a rider that is going to standout, not just be the next rider that can mimic another trend or bought a lot of followers. Most importantly, they want somebody that is going to get along great with the rest of the team. Imagine if a brand picked their team based off the number of Instagram followers they had? Nobody would get along because everyones ego’s would be in crisis mode.
A brand doesn’t learn that you are a rider worth sponsoring through a direct message or by watching your video. The best way to get sponsored? Show up at events! Don’t have any? Throw your own event or TRAVEL. Travel, travel, travel. You want to meet people, experience new things, put in your time and have fun riding your bike. If you’re talented on a bike and don’t suck as a human, people will notice and talk you up… Brands will notice. You have to put in A LOT of work if you want to get sponsored these days. If it was as easy as shooting a DM, we would ALL be sponsored. I’d be willing to bet some brands get 20-30 people asking about getting sponsored by them every single day.
Want to get sponsored? Stop sitting around and start riding, traveling, having fun on your bike, keep learning new tricks and most importantly just be a good person.
In short… Avoid asking a brand to sponsor you in the direct messages.
So, that’s a list of 5 things to NOT message a brand about in their direct messages on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or whatever other form of social media you might use.
We want to hear from you! Let us know what you think in the comments below! Are we just being mean?