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Here for the Right Reasons: Creating an Authentic Brand in the Manufactured World of The Bachelor

Insights // March 13, 2017

Since The Bachelor first aired on ABC 16 years ago, there have been countless jokes, multiple spoofs, and surprisingly, a few successful relationships. Yet the biggest success stories are not the marriages, but rather the contestants who have used the show as a platform to create a brand as an influencer. Millions of fans follow Bachelor(ette) alumni on social media, loyally reading their blogs and watching their television shows, and unquestioningly buying products sold or promoted by them. These mid-tier influencers used their 15 minutes of fame on the show as a stepping-stone to build a personal brand, but why? It’s because people are genuinely interested in what they do.

There is no foolproof way to become a successful influencer. Some individuals organically build a following using social media and word-of-mouth. Another route is to use money or fame as a vehicle to influence. Yet, most influencers have one big thing in common: they use some formula of authenticity, social media creativity, and relatability to connect with and grow their followings.

In the franchise’s recent seasons, the phrase “here for the right reasons” has become commonplace. For non-watchers, this references the relentless quest to discover who is on The Bachelor to find love and who is there to become famous. Though die-hard fans like myself would like to think all contestants are hopeless romantics with honest intentions, we would be fooling ourselves to believe so. When asked on TEDxVancouver, “Did you do this to find love or to build a brand,” former bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe admitted point blank, “to build a brand!”

Former contestants from the combined 39 seasons of The Bachelor(ette) have pursued promoting a wide variety of ventures: from failed music careers to the family business. However, there has recently been a shift where fan favorites have been able to brand themselves throughout the season and become influencers by simply being on the show. It all comes down to who best connects with the immediate rush of followers gained after the show to build a brand separate from or enhancing their “Bachelor personality.”

Qualities of a Successful Influencer  

Creating Authenticity

Although it might be considered somewhat of a blogging buzzword, authenticity greatly varies from person to person. My version of authentic might look nothing like yours, but nonetheless, we are both being genuine and honest to our personal brands. Authenticity doesn’t mean you need to be unpolished or share every intimate detail of your life, but simply that you can connect non-ostentatiously with your followers in a vulnerable and true way.

Former Bachelor contestant Ashley Iaconetti is a prime example of how authenticity works. Iaconetti is not only a blogger with 573K Instagram followers, she rode the fame train long enough to land herself freelance gigs as a frequent contributor at Cosmopolitan and Access Hollywood Live, using her pre-Bachelor journalism degree from Syracuse University. Her personal brand focuses on beauty and fashion — topics that seem not-so-authentic at first glance. The difference is that Ashley didn’t choose these topics because they are popular in the ‘lifestyle’ industry, but because she is truly passionate about them. Unabashed, Ashley frequently refers to herself as Princess Jasmine, identifies as the missing Kardashian sister, and has no problem admitting her pop-culture junkie status.

Known as “the crier,” Ashley also put herself out there on two seasons of the spinoff Bachelor in Paradise, where they even created an “Ashley I. Cry Count” for a few episodes. Rather than being the season’s “crazy girl” and using that character trait to simply stand out, she has embraced her emotional side to show viewers she is just an intelligent woman who wears her heart on her sleeve. Many people would scoff at Ashley and her fake lashes, mile-long hair extensions, and unreciprocated love, but she is not ashamed or embarrassed by her authentic over-the-top personality and that is why fans love her!

Utilizing Social Media

Using social media is inevitable for bloggers and influencers today. It is almost impossible to “make it” without a following on social, especially because the increasing importance brands are placing on social reach. It isn’t necessary to be on every platform, and even focusing on building a following on a single platform can be beneficial, it’s simply important there is some outlet for followers to connect and communicate with you.

For Shawn Booth, who won season 11 of the show, Snapchat has become his social platform of choice, amassing more than 300K followers. Along with fiancé Kaitlyn Bristowe, the two keep followers laughing and engaged every day with their hilarious and unique Snaps. Known for funny skits and tutorials about his very styled hair, Shawn approaches Snapchat in a way few others do: with creativity, candor, and charm. You won’t find many rants or selfies on his snap story, and many times he uses it for brand promotion benefits, but it is enjoyable regardless.

One example was the promotion of his traveling boot camp-style business CityStrong. While on tour in his hometown in Connecticut, Shawn decided to engage his following by leaving silicone bracelets in obscure locations all over the city in the dark of the night. If found, the bracelets could be used as an entry ticket to the workout event. He shared clues on Snapchat to the locations with a joke, and his usual cheeky charm and got his followers so involved they were immediately snatching the bracelets up. Shawn even recorded women running to grab the bracelets off a fence post.

Creative social media use is one way to stand out and make your brand more engaging than the rest — not only to attract followers but to prove to companies your personal brand is worthy of promoting their product.

Being Relatable

There is something to be said about maintaining an air of glamor and grandeur. It draws people in and makes them curious, but this approach seems to work best for short-term gains. To play the long game, it’s imperative to be relatable. Sharing everyday moments your following can personally connect with is essential to growing your influence.

Becca Tilley is still finding her niche — not much different than your average 20-something. The two-time Bachelor contestant labels herself as a lifestyle and travel blogger and does a decent amount of work as a model, too. While she finds her place as an influencer, her following continues to grow, mostly because people love her down-to-earth personality. She is described as genuine and weird (an adjective of choice for millennials) by close friends, and that shines through on her social media where she often shares silly dances and games she plays.

Becca especially connects with her female followers when she openly talks about her past struggles with finding love and her current relationship. One of her most relatable qualities is her love of food. No joke, she is a beautiful, fit model who loves to indulge in Taco Bell, McDonald’s, and Dr. Pepper. Fast food is a guilty pleasure many are ashamed to talk about, but Becca has embraced her love of unhealthy food. Her most recent endeavor is to become sponsored by McDonald’s. With 1.1M Instagram followers, Becca seems to not quite be secure her personal brand at the moment, yet fans don’t care. Followers are content to enjoy Becca for her relatable qualities.

After the Final Rose: Who will be the next influencer?

Each of these former Bachelor stars used the initial fame they received from the show to become an authority in their own space. Ashley is a respected writer and commentator, Shawn runs a successful fitness and nutrition coaching business, and Becca is making a name for herself in the fashion world.

As the 21st season of The Bachelor comes to an end, I am curious which women will make it as successful influencers. Some have already begun promoting Bombay Hair tools and Fab Fit Fun boxes (generally the first brands to approach Bachelor alumni). But it takes more than a pretty face and a few hundred thousand followers to truly make it in the world of influencers.

There are many aspects to becoming a successful influencer that people want to follow and brands want to work with, but authenticity, social media savvy and relatability are key. In an age where many bloggers don’t have a true personal brand and will promote almost anything for a free product or sponsorship, these are traits all influencers can integrate into their brand to create a more cohesive and likable identity, no matter their size and authority.

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