5 Influencer Marketing Mistakes to Avoid [With Embarrassing Examples]

June 15, 2022

Influencer marketing can help you build trust, improve brand awareness and drive sales.

There’s a catch though - you need to do it properly.

It would be great if every influencer campaign went off without a hitch, inflated your follower count by 10x, and pumped your bank account full of cash… but it doesn’t always work like that. In a rush to adopt influencer marketing, it’s easy to make mistakes. Instead of blindly throwing time and money at influencers, it helps to know the common mistakes other brands are making.

If you want to avoid wasting your marketing budget, destroying your audience’s trust, and causing a PR firestorm, you’ll want to keep reading. Here’s what you should know about the most common influencer marketing mistakes - and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1 - You’re being seduced by large follower counts

This is one of the most common mistakes brands make when choosing an influencer to work with. 

Too many brands assume a massive following = a massive impact. But this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Sure, an audience of 500,00+ might be valuable if you’re looking to reach the widest audience possible and generate exposure. But if sales are the goal, then the most popular influencer isn’t always the most valuable.

For example, let’s say you’re a fitness brand looking to promote an awesome new activewear line. A celebrity influencer might be able to help you reach a huge audience, but there’s no guarantee that their audience is looking for fitness recommendations - or even cares about fitness at all. Since a celebrity’s follower count likely has diverse interests, you can invest time and money into a campaign with few results to show for it.

In contrast, a micro-influencer who has built a smaller audience by posting almost exclusively in the health and fitness niche for years is more likely to have followers that would be interested in new activewear. By going for a smaller (but more relevant) audience, you can increase your chances of success. This is why 82% of consumers are “highly likely” to follow the recommendation of a micro-influencer.

To avoid this mistake, answer these two questions before you choose your influencers:

Question 01: Are they relevant to my brand?

Question 02: What relationship do they have with their followers?

An influencer who takes the time to engage with their followers and build relationships is most likely to drive engagement and ROI even if they don’t have millions of followers.

Mistake #2 - You’re not building real relationships

Authenticity leads to reciprocity (try saying that 10x as fast as you can).

The more authentic an influencer’s message, the more likely their followers will engage with that message and reciprocate with likes, comments, shares or conversions. 

When choosing who to work with, it’s crucial you build relationships with influencers who connect with your brand. It’s all well and good to put your product in the hands of a celebrity influencer with an army of followers. But if they (and by default their followers) don’t share the same interests as you, your message can easily fall flat.

Take the time to get to know your potential influencers to ensure they genuinely want to work with your brand. This is the secret to long-term relationships and effective campaigns because there’s no replacement for genuine enthusiasm.

As an example of what NOT to do, check out Scott Disick (former husband of Kourtney Kardashian) and his partnership with Bootea, a brand selling fitness and detox products. His clear lack of interest in the partnership shone through when he copied and pasted the brand’s instructions directly into his Instagram post.

Yep… it’s as bad as you think.

Mistake #3 - You’re not leaving room for creativity

We don’t need to tell you that modern consumers don’t love ads. OK… they hate them. Nearly ¾ of consumers believe there are too many ads on social media. If your sponsored content is a flimsy attempt to sell a product through an influencer’s popularity, you’ll be caught out.

With the effectiveness of traditional ads spiralling over recent years, you should let influencers express their creativity to avoid a “salesy” approach. Remember, getting creative is what influencers do best (and why you chose to work with them in the first place).

In contrast, being too strict with content rules can lead to stuffy, inauthentic posts that consumers can spot from a mile away. Your influencers know their audience better than you and they know what their audience wants to see. Trust them to create content that resonates and the results will show.

But look, we get it. Giving up control is tough. So you can strike a balance by writing a strong brief to avoid a stilted and awkward campaign that isn’t genuine enough to drive results. When putting your brief together, seed your influencers with what they need to know:

  • What is the product? 
  • What problems does the product solve? 
  • How do you want to position the product? 

Providing this info will allow your influencers to figure out how to authentically include your product into their content and leave a positive impact on their audience.

Mistake #4 - You’re not complying with the rules

As Spiderman’s uncle once said, “with great power comes great responsibility”. 

With the ability to sway purchasing decisions, influencers can’t simply endorse or advertise any product without considering the effect it could have on their audience. To avoid a serious PR problem, make sure your influencer is following any relevant rules for marketing your product.

Kim Kardashian is a great example of what NOT to do when she promoted a morning sickness drug through a partnership with women’s pharmaceutical company Duchesnay. As Kim was pregnant with North West at the time, this seemed like a natural fit.

The only problem?

Kim forgot to include the potential side effects of the pharmaceutical product she was promoting. This resulted in the post receiving significant negative attention from the FDA which demanded the post be revised or removed. #awkward.

You can avoid a similar PR disaster by fully understanding the rules and regulations that come with advertising your product.

If you feel like you’ve heard about this problem recently… you’d be right. Recent changes to the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) have updated the rules and regulations relating to advertising.

Find out everything you need to know about the new TGA rules here 👈

Mistake #5 - You’re not maintaining a post-campaign relationship

It’s easy to think an influencer relationship ends when your campaign does… but that’s a mistake!

As a brand, marketing manager or business owner, you should focus on building long-term relationships with influencers. This is especially important if the collaboration was a success. If you feel like the results were what you expected (or more), you’ll want to be able to work with those influencers on future campaigns (or at least have the option).

This is where a dedicated influencer agency can help (oh, look at that, that’s what *we* are). Partnering with The Influencers Agency, you can easily work on repeat campaigns without having to worry about chasing up influencers, sliding into DMs, or negotiating new rates and fees.

Click here to get in touch with a member of our team and find out more.

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