By Bridget Sjoberg |
The Bachelor/Bachelorette has always been one of my all-time favorite TV shows. I began watching it around fourth or fifth grade and was intrigued not just by the premise, but by how incredibly funny the show was. More than anything, I loved how entertaining the contestants were, and looked forward every year to seeing who the “villain” would be or what crazy new stunts people would pull when stepping out of the limo.
I’ve seen every episode of the franchise since Jillian Harris was the Bachelorette in 2009, all the way up until current Bachelor Colton’s run on the show, and have noticed a major change in the show’s dynamic- while many previous contestants proved to be entertaining personalities achieving only minimal fame after the season’s airing on TV, the contestants of recent seasons seem to use their time on the show as a platform to become “social media influencers.”
The term “influencer” is relatively new and usually refers to anyone who supports themselves financially through online platforms like promoting brands on social media, YouTube, blogging, or creating a podcast. These people typically share about their lives with their online followers while also being paid to support or mention brands that they partner with in their videos or posts.
Many recent Bachelor/Bachelorette contestants appear to be using this newly popular online platform to their advantage, extending their fame beyond the show through teaming up with other past contestants to promote brands and attend brand-sponsored events. It’s rare to find a known past Bachelor contestant who doesn’t completely support themselves through being some type of online influencer.
This “influencer” trend isn’t inherently bad. If I got paid a decent amount of money solely by featuring a product in a picture I posted, I would probably do it. But this trend does make you somewhat question the intentions of everyone who goes on the show. The longer a contestant stays on the show, the more known or popular they will become to viewers, and the more followers they will receive on social media platforms. More followers = more money. If a contestant can stay on the show long enough to make it to the “hometowns” round or to become recruited for the spin-off show Bachelor in Paradise, they will likely be able to support themselves for a while solely off of brand promotions.
Again, this trend isn’t necessarily bad, but definitely something to note. There’s usually around 25 contestants on each season vying for the heart of the chosen Bachelor/Bachelorette, leaving a very minimal chance of being the one who gets engaged by the season finale. Many contestants must know this going in, and while not having bad intentions in terms of wanting to find love, primarily want to leave the experience with around 30,000 more followers and brand partnerships.
A perfect example of this trend is former contestant Ashley Iaconetti. She appeared as a Bachelor contestant in 2015, staying on the show until week six and gaining attention for her at-times emotional and over-the-top personality. This could have easily been the end of Iaconetti’s television career, but she garnered enough recognition to join the cast of Bachelor in Paradise season two. Even after this second television appearance, Iaconetti returned to TV two more times as a contestant on Bachelor in Paradise season three and Bachelor Winter Games. While Iaconetti ended up getting engaged to former Bachelor in Paradise contestant Jared Haibon, it’s clear that she chose to extend her popularity on the show as much as she could, and the exposure paid off.
Iaconetti currently has one million followers on Instagram, and is involved in two podcasts with former Bachelor contestants. She also uses her social media accounts to promote products like Luna Bars, Fab Fit Fun boxes and Crate and Barrel.
This move towards gaining attention on a Bachelor franchise show to possibly join Bachelor in Paradise and begin a blog/podcast/YouTube channel with social media brand promotions isn’t a negative or positive thing, but it is just a reality for how the show functions now. With more and more contestants following this path, no matter how long they lasted on the show or how memorable they were, the Bachelor/Bachelorette is no longer just a show for normal people to find love, but rather a platform to gain success and a new lifestyle through “influencing” the lives of their followers.