Cookie Shop Goes Viral For Taking on 'Viral Influencers'

The owner of a New York-based cookie company is going viral for calling out a "beginner influencer."

In early May, Ana Montez, newly engaged, reached out to Halfsies Cookie Company. She wanted to collaborate ahead of her wedding. Dave Maffei, the cookie shop's co-founder, shared their email exchange on Instagram on May 8.

“I am Ana Montez and my fiancé and I just got ENGAGED!!!" Montez wrote. She wanted to spoil her bridal squad with cookies. "Are you in for some bridal bliss? Let’s chat!”

Maffei directed her to their order page. Montez replied, asking about collaborations with influencers. She had 1,380 Instagram followers and called herself a "beginner" in the space.

Montez didn't explicitly ask for free products. Maffei, however, mentioned an influx of requests from social media users claiming to be influencers. Many wanted free cookies for bachelorette parties.

“I think it started out on TikTok as a trend,” Maffei said. They claimed to be long-time fans but didn’t follow the brand. When asked for order numbers, they often stopped responding.

“This is fraud,” Maffei added. “We’re a small business. I just feel bad for people fooled by these tactics.”

Carly Hill, an influencer marketing consultant, explained that 10,000 followers is typical for a beginner influencer. "One thousand is very, very small in the influencer world. But everyone starts somewhere."

Many social media followers, especially small business owners, supported Maffei's stance. But not everyone agreed with his approach.

“Some people see me as a bully,” Maffei said. “I’m taking down the veil of privacy for those lying to me.”

The comments section was divided. Some thought Maffei's behavior was unprofessional. "She shot her shot," one user wrote. "Why put her on blast?"

Others defended him. “Bravo for standing up for your business,” someone wrote. Another said, “Your responses are perfect ????.”

Maffei believes influencers should familiarize themselves with a brand before seeking free products. For new influencers, buying products first and building a following is key. Brands might reach out to them for partnerships later.

He would consider influencers with at least 5,000 followers. One successful partnership was with Amber Lancaster, a model on “The Price is Right,” who has nearly 500,000 Instagram followers.

“She bought cookies from us early on,” Maffei said. Her posts brought many followers. Her promo code generated over $100,000 in sales for the company.

Hill suggests aspiring influencers should offer strategic services in exchange for free products. “Creating content for them to use is key,” Hill said.

Maffei agrees that collaborations can be “incredibly effective with the right person.”

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