Influencer marketing efforts are getting bigger, more effective, and more sophisticated all the time. Influencer marketing is a $1 billion industry on Instagram alone. From Coachella to Walmart’s social good campaign to brands partnering with influencers on Facebook Live, advertisers of all types are using influencer marketing to spread the word about products, brand values, events, promotions, and more.
By partnering with influencers for product placements, endorsements, sponsorships, giveaways, collaborations, or other types of influencer marketing campaigns, brands can reach audiences with authentic and trusted voices. Influencer marketing campaigns take a variety of shapes, but involve marketers setting goals, aligning messaging, selecting influencers, creating timelines, outlining deliverables, and structuring influencer agreements and contracts among many other steps and processes.
While influencer marketing is effective for reaching and engaging with audiences on mobile and social, there are still plenty of mistakes that marketers can make when planning, building, and executing influencer marketing campaigns.
Influencer marketing agencies exist to help brands and marketers safeguard against missteps, avoid costly mistakes, and to build campaigns that are both high-performing and cost-effective, use the right influencers for the right messages, and tackle goals with the appropriate and tailored tactics.
Here are some of the most common mistakes marketers make in influencer marketing and how to avoid them.
Clearly defined goals are a vital part of any marketing campaign, and influencer marketing campaigns are no exception. Influencer marketing is inherently more authentic and more organic than most forms of traditional advertising, but that doesn’t mean that brands can or should rely on authenticity without targeted and specific goals.
Once clearly defined, influencer marketing campaign goals can be used to tailor efforts and best inform next steps and variables including: utilizing specific influencers with specific audience demographics, and determining the best type of tactic (i.e. sweepstakes, review, etc.), method of brand interaction (i.e. product link, brand social account, brand website), advertising channel and media content (i.e. Instagram post, Instagram Story, Snapchat Story, YouTube video, etc.), and more.
Clear goals help brands and marketers fine-tune campaign specifics to campaign goals. Planning and running an influencer marketing campaign focused on driving followers to a brand’s account will employ different tactics than an event activation leveraging influencers to kick off a product launch. Without clear goals at the beginning of a campaign, brands and marketers may end up wasting time, effort, and cost planning and carrying out the wrong strategies, which will leave them with underperforming campaigns.
For example, H&M activated top influencers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to spread awareness and promote their holiday line. These influencers posted 10-second teaser clips on their social channels, then a roughly one-minute video post on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. By splitting the effort into a teaser and full-length video, H&M used its influencers to generate buzz and anticipation, which helped garner engagement.
The campaign content was viewed nearly 12.5 million times on Instagram and Facebook and got over 1.2 million likes. The total engagement rate was almost 10%, which helped H&M boost awareness, drive sales for its holiday line, and resonate with audiences and fans online with comments such as:
Influencer marketing agencies can help develop clear goals by coordinating with brands to determine what’s most important, be it sales goals, social engagement goals, brand awareness, or some combination therein. Agencies have the necessary expertise to help brands focus their goals and outline strategies that will help them achieve them most effectively.
An influencer marketing campaign is only as good as its influencers, and more and more, there are a lot of influencers.
It’s critical that brands work with influencers whose values and messages are in line with brand ideals and whose core audience consists of the demographic that brands are looking to reach.
For example, brands wouldn’t want to team up with top Twitch streamers to promote toys for children or new fashion lines from a retail store. Instagram influencers don’t communicate the same way that Snapchat influencers do, and neither type of influencer communicates the way top YouTubers do.
In addition, vanity metrics are a poor indicator of quality, and in a world where Instagrammers can buy fake followers and engagement to make their accounts look more successful than they actually are, it’s difficult to know how to properly assess whether an influencer is effective.
Brands also want to avoid partnering with influencers who don’t deliver or whose track record is unproven. Just as some influencers are better at editing than others, some influencers are better at connecting with audiences and effectively conveying messages that result in conversions than others. Not all influencers are the same, and there are good and bad fits for every campaign.
When structuring influencer marketing campaigns, it’s key that brands and marketers reach out to someone with experience in influencer marketing who can help select and vet influencers to make sure they fit the campaign goals. Influencer marketing agencies maintain stables of influencers who have a proven history of effective campaigns. By using an agency, brands can access insight into influencers’ performance that’s more than vanity metric-deep.
Campaigns of all kinds run on deliverables. Influencer marketing campaigns are no different. Whether brands are looking to review content before it’s posted, adjust messaging, fine-tune posting timelines and schedules, or hammer out the parameters for video or livestream, it’s important that all influencer campaigns have clear and concrete deliverables.
Some influencer marketing campaigns are simple and include relatively few deliverables — perhaps a single Instagram post that includes a caption and hashtag. Other campaigns are more complex and naturally require more deliverables. For campaigns that involve multiple posts across social channels, it’s crucial for brands to outline expectations and well-defined deliverables (see No. 4 below).
Deliverables help brands measure campaign progress and success, and the ability to analyze those deliverables allows brands to adjust and optimize campaigns as they progress. For example, a campaign such as H&M’s, which involved various posts across social channels, would likely have a number of deliverables. Brands may want to analyze treatments for videos, captions, and text for posts, and proposed timelines.
Influencer marketing agencies can help coordinate deliverables by working with brands and influencers to determine content strategy and structure campaigns around realistic and beneficial timelines. By structuring campaigns and adjusting them as deliverables and goals take shape, influencer marketing agencies optimize campaigns and help brands get the most out of their influencer marketing efforts.
Influencer agreements and contracts are some of the most important aspects of an influencer marketing campaign because they protect brands and influencers from potential missteps, mistakes, and failures.
Related to the issue of deliverables, influencer agreements and contracts make expectations clear upfront and mitigate confusion and miscommunication between brands and influencers. Contracts that are incomplete or are riddled with mistakes, oversight and loopholes threaten to hurt brands and turn campaigns into liabilities.
For example, contracts between influencers and brands that explicitly state the requirement of a Federal Trade Commission compliant disclosure on influencer-posted content eliminate confusion around the need for disclosures.
Contracts don’t have to be difficult, but they do have to be properly executed. Influencer marketing agencies are experts in dealing with contracts between influencers and brands and can ensure that a brand’s bases are covered.
Having planned and carried out dozens of influencer marketing campaigns with different goals, different influencers, different deliverables, and different end results, agencies have the requisite knowledge base to help brands create campaigns that are effective and are enforced and protected by contracts that outline expectations and provide guidance for disclosure compliance, messaging, brand association, and more.