9 Ways Brands are Getting Influencer Marketing Wrong
In 2017, there are few consumer brands left who aren’t trying to get a slice of the influencer marketing pie, but some are making more of a success of it than others. It has long been known that an endorsement from an influencer can affect opinions of and increase purchase intent in a brand, and yet there are still companies out there that aren’t seeing any real results from it. The problem, usually, doesn’t lie with the influencers – it lies with the brand.
From poorly-worded emails to treating campaigns as a one-time project, there are many ways that brands could be making their influencer marketing efforts less effective. In fact, because influencers hold so much sway over their audiences, making mistakes in your approach can even lead to negative things being published about your brand – and no one wants that!
Here are 9 of the most common mistakes that brands are making when enlisting influencers, and what they should be doing instead…
Being too specific about requirements
The mistake: Perhaps you have an idea in your head of exactly how you want the resulting content to look, or maybe you’re expecting influencers to reel off the same catch-phrases and lines you use in your direct-to-consumer advertising. The problem is, the resulting collaboration is going to stick out like a sore thumb on their feed, and 61% of digitally savvy women count ‘not feeling genuine’ as the number one reason they won’t engage with sponsored content (source: Bloglovin).
Get it right: Trust the influencer to know what their audience will respond to, and give them as much creative control as possible – you may be surprised to find that their ideas are even better than your own! By all means, give them key points that they need to get across, but let them use their own words so that any endorsement comes across as authentic.
Treating collaborations as a one-time thing
The mistake: You’ve worked with a particular influencer once, so what’s the point in using them again for the next campaign? You’ve already reached their audience, so you’d be better off choosing someone new – right?
Get it right: The truth is, if you forget about an influencer, they may well forget about you – and so will their audience. If you’ve partnered with someone and seen great content or great results come out of it, why wouldn’t you work with them again? By building longer-term relationships with key influencers you’ll make your life easier (less time spent researching and cold-contacting others!), and when their audience starts seeing your brand name pop up time and again, it’ll stick.
Focussing too much on audience size
The mistake: Yes, a supersized social media following is impressive and looks good on a report – but how many of those people will actually see your content, or care about it? A small number of influencers will even resort to buying followers to boost their stats, but those followers are never going to buy your product – they may not even be real people!
Get it right: Look for influencers with great engagement, whatever their audience size. Is their content commented on, and are those comments thoughtful ones that show the peron has absorbed the content or are they just a long stream of ingenuine ‘nice post’s? Also, be sure to look for influencers that actually align well with your brand. If you’re a vegan clothing company, you may get more out of featuring on an eco fashion blog with 2,000 followers than on one with 20,000 that focusses on fast fashion and Primark hauls.
Not repurposing influencer content
The mistake: In much the same vein as treating collaborations as one-off things, too many brands send an influencer a product or sponsor a post, only to share it on their own social media feeds and then carry on as if it never existed. Sure, you’ve reached the influencer’s audience, but you’re leaving lots of potential benefits just sitting on the table!
Get it right: If a vlogger has created a tutorial for your product, could your website benefit from having that embedded right on the product page? If the influencer’s slick lifestyle shots make your product look way better than your cut-outs on a white background, can you use those images in your advertising? Of course, be sure to obtain permission or rights to the content from the influencer before you use their content in this way.
Not offering the right compensation
The mistake: Too many brands focus only on what the influencer can do for them, and forget to consider what the influencer is going to get out of the collaboration. Not offering them adequate compensation can come across as insulting, at best blowing your chances of getting them on board with your current campaign and at worst getting the brand ‘outed’ on their various channels as one with a terrible PR approach.
Get it right: Make sure you have something to offer the influencer, and make that your email focus rather than the thing you’re asking for. Ensure too that your compensation is appropriate for the amount of work you’re asking for, and takes into account the quality of the influencer – a relative newbie may be perfectly happy with a free product or an event invite, but if you’re approaching a top blogger in your niche be prepared to pay a fee.
Equating ‘influencer’ with ‘blogger’
The mistake: Yes, bloggers can be influencers. But they’re only one type! If you’re operating in a niche industry and can’t find many blogs on the topic, don’t give up – look elsewhere. Also, even if your chosen influencer has a blog, don’t automatically assume that that’s the best place for your content to be published.
Get it right: YouTubers, Snapchatters, Instagrammers, podcasters… there are so many types of influencer besides bloggers, so find out where your audience is hanging out online and target the popular content-producers there. And if you’ve found a blogger who’s a good match but whose Instagram account gets far more reach and engagement than their blog, ask yourself, do I really need them to publish a blog post? An Instagram-only collaboration may cost much less but reach almost as many people.
Being lax about enforcing disclosure
The mistake: Depending on which study you read, readers do or don’t trust sponsored content. However what’s definitely true is that the majority of readers feel deceived when they find out after consuming content that it was sponsored. It can be tempting to ask the influencer not to disclose the partnership, but the risks are high – not only does it go against ASA guidelines, which they are not shy of publicly enforcing, but being ‘found out’ can lead to negative press and angry fans who feel they’ve been misled.
Get it right: Insisting on a clear disclosure of the partnership is the legal thing to do. If you choose influencers producing excellent quality, interesting content that people actually want to look at and engage with, and ensure that the end result comes across as authentic (see above), then the fact it’s a brand collaboration shouldn’t make a difference.
Not having a clear goal
The mistake: You want to do influencer marketing because… everyone else is doing it, so you should be too right? It’s true that it can reap some fantastic rewards for many types of businesses, but before you rush headlong into your first campaign stop to think about what you want to achieve. A campaign designed to generate sales should look different from one designed to generate brand awareness or to boost your email subscriber list.
Get it right: Your goal should shape everything from the influencers you choose to the platform the content is published on. For example, if you’re a food brand it may seem obvious to work with popular food bloggers, but if your aim is to get your product in front of busy mums then parenting bloggers would be a better choice. Your goal will also help you decide on which KPIs to track, so you can measure the effectiveness of the campaign more easily.
Getting the initial approach wrong
The mistake: You think your brand is great, so it’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that influencers will be falling over themselves to work with you. The truth is that even the mid-tier ones are receiving regular collaboration requests from brands and if yours doesn’t stand out, or comes across in the wrong way, they may well turn your opportunity down. They have a limited amount of time to work on brand content and will cherry-pick the best from what’s on offer.
Get it right: Influencers can spot a mail-merge or template a mile away, so always personalise your emails. Be clear about what’s on offer and what’s expected in exchange, but don’t ask for too much for too little – see the compensation point above! If you’re approaching bloggers, make sure you’ve read any collaboration info on their website so that you’re not asking for things they’ve already stated they don’t offer.
You only have one chance to make a first impression, so if in doubt hire a specialised influencer agency such as us at CollectivEdge – as a team of influencers ourselves, we’re well aware of what language is tempting and what is off-putting when it comes to being approached by brands, as well as knowing what’s usual and appropriate compensation. We’re also experts in helping you to select the best influencers to meet your goals and fit in with your budget. For a free quote, email firstname.lastname@example.org today.
Have you made and learnt from any other influencer marketing mistakes? Or want to share tips on how to get it right? Leave a comment below.
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Amen! Amen! Amen!!! THANK YOU for this incredible post that I am PRAYING brands will read! Nothing worse than receiving an email that simply begins “Hey” or “Hi” that doesn’t address me by name. Addressing just my blog’s name (if I even get THAT) is NOT enough. Not offering monetary compensation (I have two blogs and have been blogging since 2009) is deplorable, worse yet, when I ask for compensation their surprised reaction is insulting.
THANK YOU for addressing that numbers can be bought, that is still a HUGE misconception with brands. They still equate influencer success with numbers and that is sad. Engagement is key.