It has come to my attention recently that there are a number of businesses & individuals giving their well-considered thoughts on the biggest influencer marketing mistakes. Not being one to miss the party I am taking this opportunity to give my opinion on the matter, as well as throwing a just a little shade on some of the ‘mistakes’ I have seen others writing about.
Of course, there are a million ways to screw something up. In this article, I just give my thoughts on the top 4 mistakes I commonly see in influencer marketing.
As always, I’d love this to spark a little conversation around the topic and would love to hear your thoughts.
Mistake #1: No Brand Alignment
The term ‘brand alignment’ is a pretty wanky term, but on the other hand it is also ruddy important when it comes to influencer marketing. One of the most common mistakes I see with using influencers is people considering any number of elements before they look at whether the influencer matches their brand in terms of tone of voice, look and feel.
I have actually seen some of the most random products being promoted by the most random influencers just because they followed the brand or popped up saying they wanted to interact.
The first question I ask when looking at an influencers suitability is whether they align with the brand. Before thinking of potential costs, before thinking of audience demographics and interests, before thinking about reach.
Missing this is a huge mistake for a number of reasons. Firstly, any content posted, produced or referenced by the influencer with mention to the brand is going to look out of place and will send massive red warning lights flashing in the audiences mind….ADDDDVVVEEEERRRRTTT.
Secondly, one of the (if not THE) major benefits of influencer marketing is having content created by influencers that is both professional and highly relevant. If you decide to build a relationship with influencers that hold influence in the heavy metal scene, but you make pony toys for little girls, that content is not going to be at all relevant.
Mistake #2: Being Purely Transactional
Well, this is a hot topic and one that really lights the fire of many influencer marketing professionals, to the point where many have named not paying influencers anything as the gold standard of the tool.
I actually disagree with 100% non-transactional relationships as well (watch out for a guest post from me soon covering this in more detail). However, much worse than trying to get influencers to undertake some charity work at your business is opting in for a purely transactional relationship.
Many benefits of influencer marketing, such as creating/building brand advocates, educating key customers and gathering high-level market insight are completely lost if just pay-to-play.
Mistake #3: Creative Control
My face is getting pretty sore from the number of times I have face palmed at brands providing influencers with content to post. This is especially prolific and especially damaging on highly creative platforms such as Instagram.
WHY THE HELL are you putting time, money and effort into building a relationship with influencers that are tried and tested expert content creators if you are not going to tap into this skill? Honestly, if you really want to push out very specific content, push it through other channels like social or PPC advertising.
As always with these things, there are some exceptions where a brand may provide content successfully. This is usually in a B2B type situation where a brand can add value to an influencer through providing them with content that will benefit their audience. But even in these situations, if you have access to that influencer, you should be tapping into that knowledge to create the content in the first place.
Mistake #4: Bigger, Better
Bigger audience = better.
This is kind of a massive subject. But basically, imagine the ability of an influencer with a goliath sized audience being able to remain relevant, keep engaged and scale their influence.
You also need to consider how larger influencers have grown those sorts of audiences. Fake followers and engagement are prolific with many influencers as a response to brands demanding bigger follower counts and more buzz around influencers. ‘Fake followers’ almost certainly deserves its own ‘big mistake’, but I have integrated it into this one purely because fake followers aren’t necessarily the issue…but the perceived value of the influencer as the result of this practice.
Of course, smaller influencers also engage in these practices, but it is usually much easier to spot this on a smaller scale. Smaller, niche influencers also generally provide a more engaged, trusting and relevant audience to tap into.
As mentioned at the start of this article, there are many mistakes that can be made in the influencer marketing space. These are just the 4 that I believe to be the most damaging to marketing campaigns that leverage influencers, other mistakes include not starting a campaign with a goal in mind and not measuring or acting on results. It is often overlooked that influencer marketing takes a huge amount of common sense to execute successfully. Make sure you remedy these big 4 potential mistakes to limit any waste of resource.