Super long post ahead.
I’m currently testing out the CoverGirl Natureluxe foundation and gloss balm that I received from BzzAgent for free. It’ll be awhile before I post the reviews since I really want to get a feel for them but first I wanted to write about my personal experience as a BzzAgent. I feel like there are some misconceptions about the BzzAgent organization and what being a BzzAgent means. Of course I can only speak for myself and my experience with them. Others’ experiences as (or with) BzzAgents may be completely different.
I’ve actually mentioned various times on my blog that I sometimes review products for BzzAgent. I have a little banner/button at the bottom of my blog page which identifies me as a BzzAgent. I have the info listed under the Disclaimer/Disclosure tab at the top of my blog. Also, when I review products for BzzAgent I always make certain to include it at the very beginning of my blog entries. I’m all about full disclosure and being as honest as possible about how and where I get everything that I write about on my blog, whether it’s something I received for free or purchased with my own money.
I’ve been a BzzAgent since 2007 and I was actually introduced to the site/organization through a random comment made over at Makeup Alley’s Makeup message board. Back then someone posted a message that she had been sent a free cosmetic product to review, and that left me intrigued. I mean who doesn’t LOVE freebies? Judging by the amount of beauty bloggers who’ve written excitedly about the free Target bag of samples that they received PLENTY of us do.
Anyway, after reading on the message board about a company that was letting people try products for free I went straight on over to the BzzAgent website and signed up. Membership was free then, and it’s still free now. All that is required is your name and a valid email and address so BzzAgent can contact you and send you a product to try if they decide you’re suitable. How exactly is suitability determined? Well, after you join there are very short surveys on the site that you fill out — about your life, interests, habits, etc.. BzzAgent uses those surveys in order to match you with their clients. The surveys are generally less than 10 questions in a multiple-choice answer format so they’re really simple and not time-consuming at all.
But what is BzzAgent?
Well, my general understanding is that companies — this could be cosmetic companies, telephone service companies, electronic companies, pharmaceutical companies, etc. — approach the BzzAgent organization when they want to get the word out about their products or services. BzzAgent is a company that’s about advertising at its most basic level: word of mouth. It’s sort of a grassroots effort to get people talking (or “bzzing”) about various products by having real people (potential consumers) use the products/services and relying on these same people to spread the word to their friends, family and acquaintances so that hopefully they’ll want to buy and experience the products/services for themselves.
One could assume that this is just shilling, and BzzAgents will rave about products even if they suck simply because they got it for free, but one would be WRONG. Participation in these advertising campaigns is totally voluntary and there is no monetary compensation for giving a good review. In fact, BzzAgent has a very explicit Code of Conduct that states that anyone who participates in their campaigns must be totally honest and upfront about their status as a BzzAgent when they talk about a product they received for free. They almost beat you over the head with constant reminders to be honest and truthful.
Why would companies want to work with BzzAgents? Well, for example, if a company has a great product that no one seems to be buying this would be a great way to generate interest. If you as a BzzAgent love the product, you’re likely to recommend it to your circle of friends, and perhaps your friends will recommend it to their friends, and so on. This would be a win-win situation. You get a great product for free and the company gets some low-cost advertising.
However, working with BzzAgents can backfire on a company as well. When a product is bad, it’s bad and there’s no helping it. Take for example the L’Oreal One Sweep eye shadow. Beauty and cosmetic lovers can spot a gimmick a mile away, and the One Sweep is perhaps one the most gimmicky products ever created. Most of us knew to steer clear of it, so obviously L’Oreal went to BzzAgent in an attempt to get people to buy this product. But take a look at all the negative reviews for the product over at Makeup Alley. Just about everyone who reviewed the One Sweep mentions that they received it for free via BzzAgent. Now take a look at the product score: 1.7 and only 10% would repurchase the product. Ouch. Brutally honest to L’Oreal’s detriment. This would be a good example of a lose-lose situation. BzzAgents received a terrible product and L’Oreal got bad press.
The best thing about being a BzzAgent is the ability to effect change. At the end of every campaign BzzAgents are asked to report back to the BzzAgent organization about their experiences with the product; what, where, how we “bzzed” about the product; the reactions of those we spoke to about the products, etc. The BzzAgent organization then takes what BzzAgents have to say and reports back to the the companies, so BzzAgents have the potential to influence or improve products.
Now that we’ve gone through what BzzAgent is, I’ll kind of go through the process of getting picked for an advertising campaign.
Despite the fact that I’ve been a member since 2007 I have only been asked to participate in 4 campaigns and I’ve only joined 3 of those campaigns (Friendship Cottage Cheese, CoverGirl Lash Blast Fusion mascara, and CoverGirl Natureluxe. I was also invited to join a car tire campaign but I had no interest so I turned the offer down). I have to stress again the importance of filling out the surveys on the BzzAgent site. There are constantly new surveys to fill out and campaigns going on, and the only way you can even be considered a potential candidate for a campaign is by filling out those surveys. I should take my advice but I always forget.
The more campaigns you participate in and the more active you are as BzzAgent the higher your Level. The higher your Level the more likely you are to get invited to join an advertising campaign and try a product for free. It all starts with filling out those surveys so stay on top of them!
New members start off with a Level 1 status of Solitary Bee and are the last to get invited to join campaigns. I have a Level 2 Carpenter Bee status which means I get invited to join campaigns earlier than Solitary Bees. There’s a hierarchy and BzzAgents get invites in the order of their status/Level. Spots in campaigns get taken pretty fast so people who have really low status, like myself, get invitations very rarely. We basically get the leftover spots. In other words, don’t expect to get sent a freebie as soon as you join. It could be a long while before you’re contacted.
How involved or how much effort is required in being a BzzAgent? Not much at all but it’s totally up to you. If you’re a blogger, make You Tube videos, have a Facebook or Twitter you can create bzz about products through those channels. Even if you’re not blogging/vlogging/tweeting/etc., no worries, you can still talk to your friends or family. And I mean casually; you don’t have to make a big production out of it and throw lavish dinner parties or anything. For example, even when I’m not reviewing a product for BzzAgent, which is often the case, I like to blog and talk to my friends about makeup and food. If I love a product, whether or not it comes from BzzAgent, I’m likely to rave it about it and if I hate a product I’m just as likely to rant about it to everyone I know. That’s just normal. So when I talk to others about stuff I receive from BzzAgent (which so far has been a total of 2 times, soon to be 3) I don’t go to any special trouble at all. I’m not following a script and I’m not walking up to total strangers.
Oh, I should mention that although there isn’t any monetary compensation there is compensation in the form of MyPoints. BzzAgent is partnered with MyPoints so anytime you gain status for writing a review (doesn’t matter if it’s a positive or negative review) or completing a survey you also earn a few MyPoints. It’s a reward system, similar to credit card reward systems or Luux’s reward system. You earn points, and when you earn enough points you can trade them in for gift cards and such from various merchants like Amazon, Banana Republic, Bloomingdale’s, Paypal, Starbuck’s, Target, the Red Cross, and Walmart among others. However, I think the minimum you have to earn before you can redeem them for something is 1000+ Points which in my case might as well be 1,000,000,000 Points. That goal is so far out of my reach because of how rarely I get invited to join BzzAgent campaigns. I just don’t have as many chances to earn Points and MyPoints points also expire after one year so even if I am able to earn some Points they often go to waste.
With that out of the way, I’ll walk you through the process of how I got invited to my current campaign for CoverGirl.
A few months back I filled out a survey on the BzzAgent website and later on when I logged into my account I saw that there was a new CoverGirl campaign that was seeking BzzAgents. I signed up, selected my foundation and gloss balm shades, and a little while later I received an email from BzzAgent welcoming me to the campaign.
I’ve blacked out names and personal info for privacy reasons. Better safe than sorry. The section I underlined in red is a reminder about the importance of full disclosure and honesty. You’ll see a lot of those reminders in the following photos.
My BzzKit included another welcome letter, a CoverGirl Natureluxe foundation and gloss balm in the shades I’d selected, an informational brochure about the CoverGirl products, as well as several CoverGirl coupons to share with people.
Did you know that your BzzAgent account can even be terminated if you don’t state in your BzzReports that you disclosed the fact that you’re a BzzAgent and received a product for free? It’s true.
If you submit one (1) BzzReport without disclosure confirmation you will receive a warning from our Compliance Assurance Team. If you submit a second BzzReport without disclosure confirmation you will be required to participate in mandatory disclosure training before you can proceed with BzzAgent. Finally, if you submit a third BzzReport without disclosure confirmation your BzzAgent account will be terminated.
I suppose there are always a few bad apples who give everyone else a bad name which is probably why BzzAgent is so adamant about people being honest. However, my experience with BzzAgent has been extremely positive and I’ve never encountered any of those “bad apples” myself. It’s why I’ve stuck around for so long even though I don’t get selected for BzzCampaigns very often. I have nothing to hide or be ashamed of so I’m putting all the info I have out there.
I would definitely recommend signing up as a BzzAgent. It doesn’t take much effort, it’s a great way to try new products for free, and what you have to say can really make a difference. If you’re really active (not like me. LOL) you might actually be able to earn those MyPoint perks which would be another great reason to join. Also, don’t worry about giving them your email address; I’ve never been spammed by them. Although if that’s a concern, just create another email account strictly for BzzAgent communication. Unfortunately, I believe that at this time BzzAgent membership is only available to those in the USA, UK and Canada.
And that’s about all I have to say. I think I’ve covered everything that I know about BzzAgent which is probably not a lot compared to others who are more active BzzAgents but still more than some, so I hope it’s been somewhat helpful.
Since I’m still a newbie myself, despite being a long-time BzzAgent member, if you have any questions I’ll refer you to BzzAgent’s Who We Are page, Agent Training page, FAQ page, Code of Conduct and Glossary.