I’ve been a fan of ABC’s The Bachelor empire since it aired on March 25, 2002. I can recall watching the first season with my mother and sister, allowing the grandiose fairy tale of love that would shade my future relationships to flourish.

I’ve been with ‘The Bachelor’ franchise from the ground breaking beginning, and have loved every season; however, in 2002 the contestants seemed far away and unreachable. Fans felt an arms-length away from their favorite cast members, because social media didn’t exist. So, if you made a fool of yourself? No worries! Only super-fans of the series will remember!

Cut to 2017, and these contestants and their past and present lives are at our fingertips. Thanks to social media, we are one keystroke away from connecting with people that are looking for love just like us. We can watch these normal everyday humans go through the dating woes we experience at hyper-speed on television, and can also follow their every day lives on Snapchat. But I am sure you are wondering, who really does that?

I do.

Screen-Shot-2017-02-14-at-1.46.32-PM.pngI’m not just a fan, I’m a superfan! I have been to a casting call, I go to Bachelor meet-and greets, viewing parties and listen to Podcasts about the show. I follow and interact with former cast members on social media, and I participate in second screen via Twitter on the #TheBachelor hashtag when episodes air. I’m a fan to a point that I have to tell potential suitors that Monday’s are non-negotiable…Mondays are for The Bachelor!

…And I’m not alone! In fact, an estimated 9.5 million people watched Ben Higgins tell two women he loved them, and choose Lauren Bushnell last year. It was estimated that 6.63 million people tuned in to watch his scorned lover, JoJo, find love during her ‘The Bachelorette‘ season premiere over the summer.

So yes, the series still has a cult following, and brands are noticing. Savvy contestants are using their personal social media accounts as a way to stay relevant after the horror of TV chews them up and spits them out. The Internet is mean, and when you combine that with social media…Well, it can be hard to go back to a normal job after the limelight dims.

For many contestants, when they are not given a final rose, brands will begin to tap into them for promotional activity of their products. This should come as no surprise, as brands have been using influencers to market their products for years. Most commonly, promotional advertising Post-Bachelor comes in the form of Instagram.

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These brands aren’t necessarily large, and are generally online e-commerce based. They wouldn’t be able to afford an endorsement with ‘The Bachelor’ series itself, but former contestants are fair game. You probably have never heard of these products before, but you will begin to see constant promotion if you follow celebrities online. You can consider most promotional posts from former contestants will follow the same trend and theme.

‘The Bachelor’ promotes an idea of “girl next door” beauty and “healthy” thin women. The brands that choose to use Bachelor contestants to promote their products are hoping that everyday women that watch the show will want to try their product and be just like the contestant. Most products former contestants promote for brands will promise weight loss, or another unobtainable beauty goal such as shiny thick hair. The contestants help these brands promote by using a referral code that gets their followers a discount to try the product, or a link in their bio. Following Instagram’s guidelines, each post must say #sponsored or #ad.

The way these brands glob onto the rejected men and women each season is amusing from a marketing perspective. Considering that there is an audience that follows each episode on bated breath, it makes sense that a brand such as Sugar Bear Hair would tap into multiple women from each season of ‘The Bachelor’ to promote their product. Sugar Bear Hair is just one of the many products that get slotted into a former contestants’ sponsored posting schedule.

While this can help create a bump in sales for many of these small-name online e-commerce brands, it can also be detrimental to the reputation of both the former contestant and the brand being promoted. Some items that contestants have chosen to sponsor are merely nothing more than cash being thrown at them in exchange for a mention to their followers. So, if this is an avenue your brand is thinking of tapping into…Consider these two points:

Does the Endorsement Make Sense for your Brand?

Even though someone might have a million followers on social media, they might not be aligned with your brand goals. Make sure that the person you are hoping to work with understands your brand voice and will follow set guidelines that you give them.

Can Your Brand Withstand the Backlash?

If you cast a promotional net wide enough, you will catch some bad flack. Choosing to tap into multiple reality television personalities has been detrimental to some brands, including Flat Tummy Tea. The brand was accused of using too much celebrity endorsement, and that made consumers feel suspicious. A quick glance over their content will indicate that most of the user-generated content they receive is either sponsored by celebrities, or done to receive a free product.

This practice can tarnish a brand, and make it seem like no one authentically uses your product. Authentic partnerships where the exchange of money seems organic is always more beneficial to a brand.

Overall, it’s been an incredible experience watching ‘The Bachelor’ change over the years. It has been interesting to see the way fans and contestants have connected through social media, and how brands have been able to get in on the action. The series brings up an interesting perspective on influencer marketing as an avenue to sales, and cautions the novice in this field to be wary.