Are Influencers and Brands Pirates?

Are Influencers and Brands Pirates?

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Many good marketers were and are pirates. Brands and social media influencers are no different. They “pirate” by introducing various ideas to relevant their audience and see what bites.

As you must know by now, I’m a big favor of testing until perfecting, and testing the story-telling of your brand in particular. Some go to the extreme of pirating, and that’s (sometimes) ok too:

The Amazon Pirating Way

How about Amazon as an example of a pirate? Are they successful enough by now to use as an authoritative example 🙂 ?

My friend at Amazon told me something over 10 years ago, when I lived in the Silicon Valley. You know – he said – here at Amazon, if we want to make a case that a certain product concept or offering works, we “pirate” it!

How, I asked?

He explained that you don’t need to have an existing product to be able to test acceptance and enthusiasm of the market.


Instead, you’re playing the pretend game. You pretend you do – you go to the public and ask them. “Hey, if I had this product, this offer visual and attitude, price, etc., will you CLICK on it?”

He said they tested products exactly like that on properties, as well as on Google – their archival foe. They write ads or content, and then sit back to observe clicks and behavior.

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Their decision whether to build the products/ business was determined by the results of such pirating. And I assume they did tons of experiments.

Pirating A

Pirating B

Pirating C

If over >x quantity clicked on Pirating A – for example – then the product is about to be built. If less – I assume – they can go for Pirating A2. There – for example- the colors of the visuals are changed a bit on the “lower right side” …

Many successful Amazon pages and products you see today are the children of that pirating. And it’s always been like that. Very creative marketers were always out there, ready to conquer the world, weren’t they?

Pirating Sales of Greeenies

Here is something I happened to bump into the other day on my Dear Mishu’s Instagram homepage, right there, I found…. a pirate!:

Pirating testing something on IG eg
Pirating testing something on IG – example

As you can see, that business account has absolutely 0 posts, and yet a budget to play with an ad, where they can pirate any new idea they’ve gotten on a certain day, certain hour, thanks to Instagram tools. The account holder is a marketer, obviously, and… a pirate! Her idea is to experiment with various formats and attitudes for their ads / content for Greeenies (food products) which they resell.

And the cost for doing this is very minimal (probably charging a few cents only upon click).

The design is also not too time consuming. She probably took a picture of an already existing Greenies package, placed a certain background color behind it, linked its Call-to-Action to a certain URL and viola – “Pirate A” test is here, launch the ad, see if it has good results or not. All you need to do is use the oh so many available analytic tools (many of them provided by Instagram/Facebook itself) to find out.

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Related: Why Instagram is the Influencer Winner

They can try this and play with the caption text – and that’s the perfect place to test, as that’s the area where most people look before they buy something, especially if they are buying something unknown from an unknown vendor.

You can let your imagination fly with this type of exercise, since you don’t need to build a product:

-The marketer can send the traffic to an existing sales channel of Greenies… but will know there is a market for her own next time.

-Her name and ID can all be experimented with too, with something as generic as “Every Day xyz”

-Hashtags bring the relevant traffic, so testing hashtags can be important too.


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-She can test dozens of different story-telling approaches in the caption…

CTA testings – She can work on different CTA goals such as to bring more followers, more purchases via Instagram shopping links, form signups, mailing list sing ups, etc.

She can make 2-5 (or 10, or 20, or even 50!) various versions to focus on, and test results.

Whether the test (most chance here) is to get eCommerce, or (as it should be) getting business leads, the marketer can see which ad wins the best positive results. It’s as easy as that.

Influencers = Pirates?

Social Media Influencer (SMI) is:
(1) Someone who owns a social media account (min. 50 followers), such as on Tiktok, IG, YouTube, etc.

And – very important too –

(2) Uses it for great – no, amazing – relationship building AND/OR content sharing with their followers.

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Need a better way to pirate? Hire an SMI (Social Media Influencers)! Here is why:

We all know by now the benefits of hiring SMI – awareness, attention, getting into communities we wouldn’t dream of having access to, consulting, and so much more:

What Influencers Bring to the Table: dialogue, attention, community building, category leading, positive bias, high level story-telling, etc.
What young Influencers Bring to the Table…

Hire one (or two or three…) SMIs, and say this to them:

Hey I am fully aware that you know your audience the best. Please use your free creativity and take my product idea to the next level.

and sign that SMI up for a monthly retainer pay if the results are good!

I strongly recommend using a contract for any sponsorship to protect yourself and your business, such as my Brand-Influencer Contract

The SMI will hack fantastic material for you pirating … as they know the best what to create for your kind of audience. For example – the color of your new logo, the product benefits, the language (!!), etc. Take their gift to the next level – use the creative from them (their names too, if the SMI allows), and test your pirating with that. Most chances are that with such an investment you will progress really fast (and save money too). It’s a great shortcut.


Sincerely yours,

Dear Mishu's Dad

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SMI* = Social Media Influencers

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I am the creator of Dear Mishu, a dog character that gives underdog advice to humans on social media. I originally built the account to learn about influencers and how they work. Over time, the account grew and Dear Mishu became a real social media influencer with a community of followers who ask her for advice. I use this experience and my 20 years of marketing experience to help brands understand how to reach their goals through Influencer Marketing and Social media branding.