There's a joke that Louis C.K. tells about Amazon reviews, the jist of it being that we're reading these reviews and we have no idea who wrote them. For all we know, the person could be insane, or dead, and we're trusting their advice on what you should and shouldn't buy.
It's a really funny bit, only because it's absolutely true. For some reason, we have no problem trusting strangers on the Internet to give us advice.
I don't know if this is much of a problem for most people, or if the majority even think about it, but Amazon apparently believes it is, as the company is turning to a new group to help spread the word, one that it hopes will be a more trusted source for recommendations.
Amazon has launched an Influencer Program to get users who have large social media followings to help promote Amazon products around the Web.
Users are able to apply through the site to be influencers, but the program is currently invitation only. Amazon reviews all submissions and reviews "various factors including but not limited to number of followers on various social media platforms, engagement on posts, quality of content and level of relevancy for Amazon.com."
Amazon also notes that there is "no set cut-off" in the number of followers a user has to have and that" influencers across all tiers and categories are represented in the program."
If someone is chosen to be an Amazon influencer, they will be contacted by the company via e-mail, and will get a vanity URL to link to on social media. If someone makes a purchase through that URL, the influencer gets paid.
The program is currently in beta, and there's no indication right now that there are plans to expand it.
Amazon vs Walmart
The launch of the Influencer Program comes at an interesting time for Amazon, as it ramps up its war with Jet. On Wednesday it was reported by Bloomberg that Amazon is shutting down Quidsi, which it bought for $545 million in 2010. Quidsi is the parent company of shopping sites that include Diapers.com, Wag.com and Soap.com.
Perhaps influencing that decisions is the fact that Quidsi founder Marc Lore is also the founder of Jet.com, which was sold to Walmart for $3 billion last August. Lore now runs e-commerce operations for Walmart.
Jet emerged as a true competitor to Amazon, and the two companies engaged is what was called a "price war," with each side attempting to undercut the other by giving users better deals. That war now seems to be happening between Amazon and Walmart.
Amazon has long been the leader in e-commerce, but it now facing some real competition. While introducing an Influencer Program won't lead to lower prices on Amazon, it is a way the company to potentially leverage its size and scope to lure users back to the site.
The whole point of influencers is that they are a trusted source for advice. Their word should mean more than a random review, or an advertisement. If Amazon can put its vast network of users to good use, that might help it gain a leg up on Jet and Walmart.
This program was first discovered by TechCrunch.
VatorNews reached out to Amazon for comment. We will update this story if we learn more.
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