5 Common Mistakes Brands Make With Influencer Marketingby: Dustin Hawley | Monday November 4, 2019
Influencer marketing may be a fairly new discipline in the marketing world, but what makes it unlike other media platforms is that its effectiveness is rooted in collaboration. Combining an opinionated person of influence with a personal brand is both science and art in the marketing world. This can make the process of working with influencers more challenging, particularly for organizations that have yet to embark on a campaign of this nature.
Brands must tread lightly to both find and perfect the balance between keeping an audiences’ trust while simultaneously branding their product or service. Influencer marketing is multi-faceted, and there are several elements to be aware of if you wish to achieve success. Likewise, there are practices to avoid so your campaign doesn't result in an epic failure. Here are five of the most common mistakes brands make when they enter the world of influencer marketing.
Mistake #1: Selecting the Wrong Influencers
Selecting the right influencer for a campaign is about far more than just their follower count. It’s about how their interests, demographics, and market segments, align with your brand efforts. Even the more abstract variables like attitudes and industry expertise play a part in the value they bring to your brand. So how do you engage with the right influencers instead of the wrong ones?
First, do some research on your potential partners, almost an 'influencer background check' if you will. Screen each potential influencer for their online reputation and general theme. Do they have a history of being controversial online? Are they professional in how they handle their business? Remember, the influencers you partner with will be representing your brand. It's imperative you choose wisely.
Mistake #2: Prioritizing Influencer Reach over Engagement
The conversation around Reach versus Engagement has been a hot topic over the past couple of years. But for good reason. Many companies who are brand new to influencer marketing still often prioritize follower count above all as the primary metric of influence. Sure, if you're looking to simply broadcast a marketing message built around brand/product awareness, then reach may be very important. But you better have a substantial budget. And what if your brand is looking to target a specific, niche group that may have an interest in your product or service? Influencers with audiences that align with that of your brand may be the answer.
Additionally, if you are looking for a campaign to deliver results in an action (CTA form submissions, newsletter sign-ups, sale, etc) metrics like engagement rates should be prioritized, as it shows an influencers ability to truly influence their audience into taking action (potentially on behalf of your brand).
Mistake #3: Lack of Clarity on KPIs
This is an all-too-common mistake that can be easily avoided with proper planning and communication. Organizations often struggle with how to measure the effectiveness of an influencer marketing campaign.
If your brand is looking to use influencers to brand a product or service and not just create instant sales, how do you effectively evaluate the campaign? Before activating an influencer campaign (during the planning stages), clearly define what KPIs are most important for this specific promotion. It needs to be clearly defined and decided before the activation begins. This allows you to not only set expectations with your influencer but also communicate the correct reporting and numbers you need from them at the conclusion of the campaign. Keep in mind that most influencers are not marketing experts, so they may need some guidance on how to access the data you need for your reporting (i.e. Google Analytics, Instagram Insights, etc.).
Mistake #4: Not Enforcing FTC Compliance with Influencer Campaigns
It was a monumental year in 2016, notably because it was marked by several cases where the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) went after advertisers who used influencers in their marketing efforts and failed to be transparent about the nature of the relationship. Between January and August of that year alone, a major motion picture corporation, a biomedical company, and a leading retailer were all found to be out of FTC compliance and received heavy fines for their violations. Here's an example of what the compliance regulations now look like on paid social ads.
A best practice is to consult your attorney or in-house counsel to ensure your influencer marketing efforts abide by the applicable laws and guidelines. This ranges everywhere from “clear and conspicuous” disclosures of the material connection (between brand and influencer) to other elements that may lie in the fine print in some cases. Don't downplay the importance of keeping your bases covered on this front.
Mistake #5: Deploying One-Off Campaigns Instead of Longer-Term Relationships
For brands hoping to see their sales skyrocket from a single influencer post, your hopes may be dashed by this next bit of information. While it may be true that super-celebrities like Kylie Jenner can give you an instant sales spike, it comes at quite a cost. Most brands simply don't have the marketing budget to engage in a campaign of this magnitude. Besides, a single post - regardless of who is sharing it - often still isn't enough to move a customer from initial brand awareness to purchase in a single interaction.
Successful influencer marketing campaigns are the ones built on a foundation of trust and should be viewed as long-term relationships rather than one-offs. Brands would be smart to identify the influencers they wish to work with and begin to build a strong, personal relationship with them. An arrangement of this nature allows you to cultivate a stronger connection between your brand and the influencer, which in turn helps the influencer to build a connection between their audience and your brand. As is true in many phases of life, there's something to be said about the power of relationships.
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