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11 Mistakes That Brands Are Making in Influencer Marketing and How to Avoid Them

influencer marketing mistakes

It’s true that we learn from our mistakes. That said, it is sometimes better to not make the mistake at all. Too many brands are getting their influencer marketing strategy wrong, which is then having a knock-on effect on their entire marketing budget. You can ensure that your next influencer collaboration is a success by taking note of some of the most common mistakes brands are making when it comes to influencer marketing.

1) Not giving influencers creative freedom

Let your influencers breathe. An all-too-common mistake is attempting to control every aspect of the influencer collaboration. Each influencer has their own unique way of communicating. This is what their followers expect – and love – to see. When they are handed a script their voice is lost and your collaboration instantly loses authenticity.

This doesn’t mean that you have no say in what your influencers post. The trick is to communicate your aims in a clear brief at the outset of the collaboration. Be upfront about the intended direction of the campaign and then give your influencers full creative control.

Some marketers find it frustrating when influencers don’t give their product centre-stage in their sponsored post or video. This is the wrong way to look at it. With influencer marketing, it often pays to be subtle. Influencers know that their followers don’t want in-your-face advertising on their feeds. Sometimes we say the most by saying the least.

2) Sending out generic influencer outreach emails

When a brand first dips its toes into the influencer marketing water, it can be very tempting to send out a mass email to every influencer, in the hope that a few will agree to collaborate. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work like that. Tailored emails sent to a handful of select influencers will be far more successful than a spammy, impersonal email to hundreds.

With every day that passes, more and more brands are turning to influencer marketing. The increased demand for influencers means that they are not short of collaborative opportunities. If you want to work with the best influencer for your brand, your approach needs to stand out from your competitors. Influencers document their lives online, so it is very easy to find out their hobbies and interests. Mentioning why these interests would make them a good fit for your brand will show the influencer that you have considered the best approach for the collaboration and communicated why it would be a mutually beneficial arrangement.

3) A lack of patience

A well-planned, comprehensive influencer marketing strategy can work wonders for your brand. But results don’t always happen overnight. Influencer marketing is about building up genuine relationships with influencers (and their followers). Like with any relationship, this takes time. Influencer marketing is an incremental process of trust-building – and one that can bring about big rewards when done right.

Influencers are often rushed for results. There is no easier way to damage a relationship with an influencer than by pressuring them to produce quicker work. They say that a happy worker is a productive worker. This is no different with influencers. If an influencer feels rushed, the collaboration will suffer.

By the same token, a happy influencer will be more inclined to work with your brand again. Multiple campaigns are more effective than single posts. They give the advertisement a natural feel, which increases the chance of engagement with the target audience.

4) Failing to plan properly

Lots of companies go into influencer marketing completely blind. Needless to say, this is never a good idea. It is important to take some time to work out exactly what you want to get out of your influencer collaboration. Determining goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) in advance is the only way that you will be able to measure the results of the campaign once it is underway.

5) Failing to measure results properly

Likewise, many brands fail to report the results of their influencer campaigns in the correct manner. In some ways this is understandable. Increased brand awareness – a common goal of an influencer collaboration – is notoriously difficult to measure. But influencer campaigns bring tangible results, too. Higher engagement, click-through rates and traffic are key metrics in a successful influencer collaboration.

It pays to be smart in the reporting process. Brands often work with multiple influencers at the same time. Remember to monitor each collaboration and the campaign as a whole, to assess the full impact of the campaign.

6) Lacking transparency

The failure to disclose that a post was an advert has left a number of brands and influencers in hot water. To stay on the right side of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), make sure that your influencers include #sponsored or #ad on every collaborative effort.

7) Not researching your influencers

With so many influencers to choose from, it is not surprising that some brands pick the wrong one. The first thing to look for is a common niche. If your brand or product fits their niche, you will be off to a winning start.

The influencer should also share the same values as the brand. Once a collaboration begins, the influencer is an official representative of the company. Recently, there have been a handful of high-profile cases in which an influencer’s private opinions have come to light and harmed the reputation of collaborating brands. These cautionary tales are few and far between, but it is always worth researching your influencers properly.

8) Thinking bigger is better

Vanity metrics – most commonly high follower counts – have been the downfall of many an influencer marketing campaign. Having more followers does not necessarily equate to a more successful influencer collaboration. A good rule of thumb is to seek engagement over reach when looking for the ideal influencer for your brand.

Brands can be forgiven for thinking that a collaboration with a major celebrity would ensure success. The reason that this is often not the case is all to do with demographics.

Let’s take an example:

A UK-based company successfully approaches a major American celebrity with 1 million followers on Instagram. It’s expensive, but they agree to the high price because of the huge reach that the campaign will bring. Enticed by the follower count, they overlook that only 8% come from the United Kingdom. The maximum number of people that the firm can actually engage is therefore only 80,000. A UK-based influencer with 80,000 followers would have been significantly cheaper than the American celebrity, despite bringing about the same rate of engagement.

9) Ignoring your mobile site

Influencers live in a mobile world. The vast majority of Instagram users, for instance, use their mobile or tablet to scroll through their feed. As a result, most traffic that comes from influencers is directed to mobile sites. If your mobile site is not fully optimised, even the very best influencer campaigns will have a high bounce rate.

10) Falling victim to influencer fraud

There is no denying that fraud is a growing problem within influencer marketing. Yet if you know how to spot it, it is easy to avoid. The most common form of influencer fraud is fake followers. Collaborating with influencers with fake followers is a problem for brands because engagement rates will be significantly lower than expected. Fortunately there are a number of tell-tale signs that indicate that an influencer has fake followers. Things to look out for include unusually low engagement rates, unrelated comments, and significant (but sudden) spikes in follower growth.

blogfoster co-founder Simon Staib recently discussed influencer fraud at the Influencer Marketing Hub’s Under The Influence conference in London. If you would like to know more about how to tackle influencer fraud, you can download his presentation.

11) Not doing influencer marketing at all!

The number one mistake that brands can make in influencer marketing is to avoid it completely. The good news is that less and less brands are doing this. Regardless of the size of your company, influencer marketing can reap significant rewards when done correctly, with the ROI of influencer campaigns estimated to be six times higher than earned media. In fact, influencer marketing is the fastest growing of all the digital marketing channels – and it is showing no sign of slowing down. People want recommendations from those that they trust. Influencer marketing does just that.

Now you know what to avoid in your next influencer marketing campaigns, download our free whitepaper on the rules of influencer marketing success.

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