Love it or loathe it, influencer marketing is here to stay. Study after study has pegged influencer marketing and the closely related word of mouth strategy as the best way to connect with the ever-elusive millennial generation. It’s also twice as cost effective, has a retention rate 37 percent higher than the next leading strategy, and offers a return of investment as high as $6.50 for every one dollar invested. It has even given birth to a whole new breed of specialized influence marketing agency. Ignoring influencer marketing means ignoring the most powerful tool in marketing and branding today, but like any new trend, there are pitfalls to be avoided. When influencer marketing fails, this is what happens.
Top 5 Influencer Marketing Pitfalls to Avoid
- Picking the Wrong Influencer or Platform
Your influencer campaign is only as good as your influencer, and that means picking the right person to carry your brand. Remember, influencers are not celebrity endorsements with worldwide appeal. They’re niche marketers, and they command a small but loyal fan base with huge conversion potential. Therein lies the first pitfall. As Holly Hamman of Convince and Convert warns, it’s easy to get wrapped up counting clicks and followers and forget to look at the big picture: picking an influencer who matches your message, and reaches the consumer base you hope to tap. Social media platform makes a difference too: why compete for page views on Facebook if your product is a better match for Pinterest’s smaller user base? Personality-based campaigns live or die on having the right personality attached.
If you have an influencer willing to carry your flag, you want to produce as much content as possible, right? Wrong! Although it may seem counterintuitive, the most successful influencers maintain a smaller ratio of sponsored and original content. When a brand becomes overexposed, the blogger loses credibility, and the fallout damages both brand and blogger. An influencer’s audience comes to them for original content. If the content they love is replaced by sponsored content, they’ll get fed up and take their attention and purchasing power elsewhere.
- Too Much Focus on “The Brand”
Branding focus goes hand in hand with oversaturation. The primary goal of using an influencer isn’t exposing your product, it’s building a lasting connection, something influencers are very good at. You need to allow an influencer the freedom to infuse his or her own creative voice into the content. They already have a connection built with their audience, and that means they know better than you do, what their audience will like. As any influence marketing agency will tell you, modern audiences, especially the young ones, don’t trust marketers. What they do trust is recommendations from other people, even strangers. A personal story that mentions a brand as an anecdote has a much greater impact than a sponsored product review: asking your influencers to regurgitate canned content is a slippery slope straight into the next pitfall.
- Lack of Authenticity
The advent of the Internet and ecommerce led to a massive shift in how we interact with brands and marketing. Everyone knows the tricks of the trade, and if your influencer isn’t making a genuine recommendation, their audience knows it instantaneously. A good influencer needs to believe in your product: nothing kills a campaign faster than an influencer who’s only in it for the money. Authenticity means, once again, giving your influencers creative freedom. If your content is good, a millennial audience will share it like crazy. If it isn’t good, if it feels fake or forced, the backlash will damage your brand and your bloggers.
- Ignoring the Tools at Hand
Building a marketing campaign is hard. It gets even harder when it requires networking with outside talent. There are networking tools out there to make it easier to contact and collaborate with potential influencers, as well as a dedicated influence marketing agency with a pool of talent and experience to draw from. It is also vital that you have the tools to measure the success of your campaign: an influencer marketing campaign needs to have analytics built in from the ground up, to measure the shares, likes, and levels of engagement that will make or break your return of investment. A successful campaign is far more than simply contacting the right person to advocate your brand, and it takes a suite of high tech tools and talents to get the most of influencer marketing.
A Few Final Words
There’s no doubt that influencer marketing works, and works well…when it’s used right. Make a misstep and the fickle online audience can do untold damage to your credibility and the credibility of your collaborators. A great campaign takes a lot of homework and a clear understanding of the niche you hope to reach and build a lasting connection with, the intuition and insight to pick the right influencer, and the guts to let that influencer do their thing with creative freedom. It’s a daunting challenge, but the success stories are everywhere you look.