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Influencers, Advocates, and Those Who Pass Out the Kool-Aid

As we have said nuuuumerous times before with articles like Is Print Dead? and The Unbiased Biased Review, the consumer has to be even more careful where they get their information regarding reviews and feedback with skis. Who can you trust?

The newest buzzword is advocate. This is all before we get into AI and ChatGTP which study extensive algorithms to understand your wants by mining your searching and key words.

With the landscape ever changing, and in fact faster than some of us can even keep up, consumers are pushing back. More than ever people are saying “How dumb do you think we are?” and looking right through the influencers and advocates along with all of the other guerrilla marketing and sales techniques that are being thrown at them.

Advocate … influencer … zealot ... shill … It is all the same. These are the people on our social channels that will have numerous hashtags in their posts. Most of these people do all of this to get free equipment and their loyalty only lasts as long as that gear keeps coming.

Getting gear out to these advocates and influencers is cheap advertising for brands. All it costs them is maybe some skis or an outerwear kit (usually jacket and pants) and maybe some discount codes. For this outreach the advocate starts spamming Instagram, Facebook, and other social media outlets. They come on to sites like SkiTalk and start waving pompoms for a particular brand. The better ones ingrain themselves in the community like an Alabama tick and will suggest that brand whenever the chance comes up.

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To paraphrase Bill Engle, “Here’s your sign.”

If someone is always recommending one brand all the time, here’s your sign. If someone says you must try X, here’s your sign. If someone consistently says that one brand makes the best ski, again, here’s your sign. I am not saying that any of these brands are bad, but one brand or one model is never the answer to every question. These shills are not there to help you, but to help themselves. They need to make themselves look better in the eyes of their suppliers.

One of the areas that we are consistent with at SkiTalk is our reviews do use actual people who are, and this is key, accessible to you the reader. Our testers are active on SkiTalk and part of your community. Are there fringe contributors who have an overzealous affinity for one brand? Perhaps. There is usually no need to call them out as the rest of the community does a pretty good job keeping them in their place but it doesn’t stop the pompom waving.

We sometimes get asked how, as a site, we stay impartial as many brands advertise and some do not. All I can say is take a look at our reviews. We try to review every model that is available to us whether they advertise with us or not. We also do not limit our Tester’s Choice awards and there are a fair share awarded to those brands that do not advertise. By avoiding "top 10" or "best in class" and similar designations but instead using "who's it for/who's it not for," SkiTalk.com and those who represent the site are indeed committed to remaining impartial.
About author
Philpug
I started skiing in the mid-70s in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania; from then on, I found myself entrenched in the industry. I have worked in various ski shops from suburban to ski town to resort, giving me a well-rounded perspective on what skiers want from their gear. That experience was parlayed into my time as a Gear Review Editor and also consulting with manufacturers as a product tester. Along with being a Masterfit-trained bootfitter I am a fully certified self proclaimed Gear Guru. Not only do I keep up with the cutting edge of ski gear technology, but I am an avid gear collector and have an extensive array of bindings as well as many vintage skis.

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Having been a member of the StiTalk Community since early on, one of the things I like about the ski reviews is the "Who is it for" "Who is it not for" especially the latter "Who is it not for" too many people misrepresent their ability to the shop sales people and when they read the reviews by themselves they can be a little more honest with themselves and hopefully find a better match to their ability.
 
Having been a member of the StiTalk Community since early on, one of the things I like about the ski reviews is the "Who is it for" "Who is it not for" especially the latter "Who is it not for" too many people misrepresent their ability to the shop sales people and when they read the reviews by themselves they can be a little more honest with themselves and hopefully find a better match to their ability.
Thank you. We feel that is so much better way to discuss a products than "strengths" and "weaknesses" because there are many times that one ski's weakness for a reviewer is another skier's strength and vice versa with a ski's "strength".
 
So is SkiTalk similar to Consumer Reports? I know they don't take advertising and that you do, but at the least are you saying that you are not given free gear from manufacturers that you can use, sell, etc?
 
So is SkiTalk similar to Consumer Reports?
I don't think we are like CR at all. Consumer Reports is very analytical in their reviews which is fine for washing machines and toasters but skis are very subjective and we try to discern the characteristics and who might benefit from that particular ski.
I know they don't take advertising and that you do, but at the least are you saying that you are not given free gear from manufacturers that you can use, sell, etc?
In transparency we do get gear supplied to us from some brands but it is not in exchange for a positive review but a fair one. Most product is either then passed along or sold once it comes out of rotation and the funds are reinvested into running the site.
 
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Nice. Well said. "Here's your sign" (I didn't get the Bill Engle reference but let's not get stuck on that) is the perfect expression for how to deal with all the ads, advices, ad nauseam b.s. Just have to be a thoughtful reader/consumer.
 
Article says "This is all before we get into AI and ChatGTP which study extensive algorithms to understand your wants by mining your searching and key words."

Is this why I get the lingerie ads?
 
Article says "This is all before we get into AI and ChatGTP which study extensive algorithms to understand your wants by mining your searching and key words."

Is this why I get the lingerie ads?
Yes, Google ads have been tied to individual algorithms for years.
 

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