Ice Cream Truck Owner Confronts the Problem of Social Media ‘Influencers’

melting ice cream cone
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Ice cream truck owner Joe Nicchi has gotten fed up with self-proclaimed Instagram stars demanding free ice cream in exchange for promoting his company on their social media accounts. Nicchi is now telling these supposed “influencers” that not only will they have to pay for their ice cream, they’ll have to “pay double.”

Joe Nicchi — who offers soft-serve chocolate, vanilla, and twist flavors through his company, appropriately named CVT Soft Serve — became fed up with Instagram “influencers” who kept approaching him for free ice cream, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.

Instagram “influencers” are people with a relatively large following on the social media platform, who oftentimes solicit companies for “free” products in exchange for them promoting the business to their followers via Instagram posts.

“At first I was confused,” said Nicchi to Los Angeles Times, “It’s like, ‘Hey, what’s up. So, I don’t know if you follow me but I have 100,000 followers. Could you hook me up with an ice cream? I’ll post about you in my story.'”

“It totally threw me,” added Nicchi, “I’m like, this is a $4 item. What are you talking about?”

While it has been reported that Instagram alone may even be responsible for waves of tourism to specific locations around the world — with some locations or establishments embracing social media Influencers by welcoming them and encouraging them to post about their adventures — not everyone appears interested in the concept.

Once influencers began continuously approaching Nicchi’s ice cream truck to solicit him for free ice cream in exchange for social media posts, he took to Instagram himself to inform the public that CVT Soft Serve ice cream — which is reportedly a family recipe passed down from his father — will not be given away for free, and that influencers, in fact, would have to “pay double.”

“We’ve decided to make this thing official with signage,” wrote CVT Soft Serve in its Instagram post, “We truly don’t care if you’re an Influencer, or how many followers you have. We will never give you a free ice cream in exchange for a post on your social media page. It’s literally a $4 item…well now it’s $8 for you.”

The Instagram post included a photo of Nicchi holding a sign, which read, “Influencers Pay Double.” The sign has reportedly been placed in the window of the ice cream truck.

Nicchi is not the only fed up business owner to have reacted to Influencers in this manner. Earlier this year, a beach club in the Philippines called White Banana Beach Club went viral after suggesting in a Facebook post that social media influencers get a real job.

“We kindly would like to announce that White Banana is not interested to ‘collaborate’ with self-proclaimed ‘influencers’ — and we would like to suggest to try another way to eat, drink, or sleep for free. Or try to actually work,” wrote White Banana Beach Club.

The beach club was met with a flood of positive responses from Facebook users who shared the same contempt for supposed Influencers.

“SPOT ON,” said one user in a top-liked comment, “I work in the restaurant industry and get asked all the time to ‘collaborate’, by which they mean, give me a free meal and I’ll post a picture of it on Instagram. Which my paying customers do all the time anyway. Self-proclaimed influencers do not create sales in this industry, they just take free stuff.”

CVT Soft Serve’s Instagram post also went viral, and — similarly to White Banana Beach Club — has now attracted new customers to the business after publicly taking a stand against influencers, according to a report by The Guardian.

“We’re the anti-influencer influencers,” said Nicchi to the Guardian. “It’s weird — but I think it’s really fun. I hope it inspires small businesses to hold their own and tell people to fuck off.”

“If Instagram went away tomorrow, our truck would still survive,” added Nicchi, “I don’t know that your ‘influencer’ business would.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, on Parler at @alana, and on Instagram.

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