In today’s over-communicated, advertising-wary digital landscape, businesses need to find alternative strategies for generating brand exposure, website traffic, and conversions, and influencer marketing is often just what’s needed. Done right, influencer marketing can generate insane results.
But despite its potential, many influencer marketing campaigns fall flat, most often because the influencer commissioned cares little, and knows even less about the brand.
To help you reach your intended goals, I recently invited ten influencer marketing practitioners to share the most common mistakes they see which cause influencer campaigns to fail. All these mistakes are real. Worst practices range from poor goal setting and shortcutting the research process, to one-sided negotiations and micro-management.
Here are the most common mistakes, in no specific order.
1. Don’t Assume Your Sales Team Cares About Reach (They Don’t)
“Marketers who don't try to achieve sales may see their influencer marketing campaign value questioned, and have trouble increasing or maintaining their budgets,” explains Brian Carter, CEO of The Brian Carter Group. “If you can't track sales, find the goal closest to the bottom of the funnel that you can, whether it be lead generation or engagement, and optimize that metric.”
In order for an influencer campaign to be considered a success, you have to know where the bullseye is. Establish objectives which align with your overall sales and marketing goals, and designate quantifiable metrics, like cost per conversion, that impact your bottom line in order to document your contribution.
2. Don’t Assume Popularity = Influence (It’s Not)
“Focusing solely on popularity drives awareness, but not engagement or conversions,” says Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Marketing. “In B2B marketing, customers want to see more than just famous talking head - they want to see themselves, or subject matter experts that are their peers, in the content that brands are promoting.”
3. Don’t Forget Why You’re Running This Campaign in the First Place
According to Geno Prussakov, Affiliate Marketing Consultant at AM Navigator LLC, one of the costliest mistakes that brands make is misaligning influencer types with their goals.
“Start with the objective and where it fits into your consumer’s journey, then select the suitable influencers to work with"
Macro-influencers can be great for broadcasting your message to the world (think of them as introducers on the Awareness phase of the marketing funnel), and reviewers are excellent on the Consideration phase, while niche micro-influencers can be effective closers (think the Action phase of the funnel).”
4. Don’t Take Shortcuts
Be it influencer identification tools or third-party platforms, Sam Fiorella, Partner at Sensei Marketing, advises that no tool can provide you the same results as good old-fashioned community building and hard work.
“The most effective influencers are often existing customers, or industry members who are less likely to have ‘social celebrity’ status, but are passionate about education and teaching others. These people are less likely to be found through influencer identification tools, and more likely to be found by working with the community.”
5. Don’t Lose Your Patience
You can't rush or force a relationship,” explains Mike Allton, Brand Evangelist for Agorapulse. “You can take steps and do certain things to help it along, and to try to make sure that it grows in a positive direction, but ultimately you have zero control over that relationship. It's a mutual state of existence which requires buy-in from both parties - you and the influencer.”
6. Don’t Confuse Influencer Advertising with Influencer Marketing
Newbies frequently make the mistake of confusing 'influencer advertising' with 'influencer marketing', according to Tom Augenthaler, Consultant at The Influence Marketer.
Augenthaler explains the difference:
“Influencer advertising is simply paying them to post content for you on a platform like Instagram. This is simple and transactional - newbies do this without thinking through who they want to reach and what they hope to achieve. As a result, many lose money.”
Influencer marketing, by contrast, is a high touch strategy that requires careful relationship building.
7. Don't Ask for Too Much
Newbies commonly make mistakes in the pitch itself, according to Chad Pollitt, VP of Marketing, inPowered:
“If you’re going to pitch an influencer, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to participate and say ‘yes.’”
The same common sense applies in Influencer Marketing as in any partnership - the more work you ask them to do, the less likely it is that they'll come on board.
8. Assume Influencers Want to Work for Free
“The number one mistake newbies make is trying to work with influencers without any sort of monetary or service compensation in return for their efforts,” says Shama Hyder, Founder and CEO, Zen Media.
“Being an influencer is often a full-time job, and they need to be compensated fairly for their work. It’s important to keep in mind that if you have a smaller budget, you need to match your deliverables to that budget, and vice versa.”
When creating your offer, get them excited about working with you by generating mutual value. For example, help up-and-comers advance their careers by offering press opportunities, or offer to contribute on their behalf to a cause they believe in. Also, do your research ahead of time. Understand whether financial remuneration is expected, and what the going rates are.
You should expect to pay a premium in highly competitive consumer markets, including beauty, health and wellness, toys, and consumer tech, as well as for celebrities and reality TV stars.
9. Don’t Micromanage
Influencers, like best-selling author and marketing expert David Meerman Scott, are accustomed to people sending them stuff that’s within their niche. And while that's fine, they don't necessarily like to be told how they shyould then discuss those items.
“I get this kind of thing nearly every day:
I just published a new infographic on achieving business growth with inbound marketing that I thought you might enjoy. I’d love if you’d consider sharing it with your followers!
All the best...’
Well, duh - of course you would love me to share. I know why you are sending it to me. Don’t grovel. People who tell me what to do like this clearly don’t know me because I’ve got so many other things I could do with the content if I like it.
What if I want to put your infographic in one of my books? How about I talk about it in my live presentations around the world? I could reference it in one of the publications I write for, such as Huffington Post.”
There’s more to David’s letter, but you get the point - influencers know their audience, and they know how to communicate with them. Try not to dictate terms.
10. Don’t Overlook Plan B
Some people have no backup plan - which is a big mistake, according to Dean DeLisle, Developer & Chief Visionary, Social Jack.
“Always have a plan B. Have a couple of influencers that you're ready to work with for every campaign in case one falls through. This will save your career, as well as your current job, in some cases. This is critical, especially in situations in which you’ve scheduled resources and time, such as with broadcasts or at events.”
A common theme among these influencer marketing fails is lack of authentic relationship building with the influencers. When you put people first, everything changes - and the odds of success quickly stack in your favor.