The 7 Deadly Sins of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is on the rise. People believe messages from experts in various fields from blockchain, IoT, to marketing and automation, especially if these experts are not directly affiliated with a particular brand.

Follow the author on LinkedIn

Influencer marketing is growing on all platforms, be it Twitter, LinkedIn, Medium, Reddit, Facebook, or even through individual blogs. Yet brands are stumped how to choose a good influencer. Choose an influencer with no follower engagement and you waste your money; choose a micro-influencer with no significant following and you may be overpaying.

Some have hundreds of thousands of followers yet virtually no engagement; the suspicion is that their followers are fake, or simply regard the content as unimportant. Those may not be the right choice for your brand.

Influencers are not synonymous with celebrities. In fact, influencers in a particular industry, or even micro-influencers with the right following, can produce better results than big celebrities.

Read also: Micro-Influencer Marketing: The Ins and Outs

But there are many pitfalls. Self-proclaimed influencers don’t just inform, they often mislead. Just because someone has a large following doesn’t mean he or she can propel your brand forward. Too many influencers can make the message seem spammy. Reputation is more important than reach in many industries, and so on.

We have identified the seven most common mistakes brands make when embarking on active influencer marketing campaigns.

1) Choosing the wrong influencer

What you are looking for in an influencer are the 4Rs: Reach, Replies, Relevance and Reputation.

  • Reach refers to the number of real people an influencer reaches.
  • Replies refers to the level of engagement between followers and influencer.
  • Relevance is the influence of the person hired for your particular purpose
  • Reputation is just what it says: is this someone with a good reputation amongst your potential clients? Is he or she an industry insider with years of experience? Checking the reputation of an influencer is probably the most important task in evaluating the right partners.

There are no automated tools that can identify the right influencer perfectly. Watch an account carefully before hiring an influencer. Look at the number of replies, shares, retweets, but also if the influencer is actively engaging with others. Are their posts relevant to your business? Do they report from live events?

Cross-check the influencer’s profile across platforms. Someone with a huge Twitter following but an unremarkable LinkedIn profile without career details or very few connections is highly suspicious. Watch out for live videos where you can witness the influencer in the company of others, at big public events, and so on. If in doubt, ask around. Never base your decision on follower numbers alone! And remember: sometimes the best influencers are to be found within your own ranks. Engaged employees are often the best representatives of your particular brand.

Read also: Employee Advocacy: The Key to Digital Marketing Success


2) Choosing too many influencers

This is a common mistake made by corporations with a somewhat larger marketing budget and risk-averse individuals, yet it is invariably the wrong decision. You do not want to dilute your message by spreading it over too many individually unimportant influencers.

This is a bit like the stock market: you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket, but if you buy each stock in the index you haven’t really made a decision at all. It’s not wrong to work with different influencers in different markets or market segments, but don’t lose focus.

For some brands, in technology especially, it may be better to limit themselves to just one influential representative who then actively engages with the rest of the field, rather than managing many small influencers of little or no significance.

Read also: Word-of-Mouth Marketing: The Land that Strategy Forgot

3) Short-term collaboration

This should be an obvious one, but in this fast-paced world, it is not always what brands do. Every time a new CMO comes on board, the whole battalion of influencers gets replaced just for the heck of it. This is not good.

Influencers must be nourished and in turn nourish their followers. They should be able to follow trends, technologies, and transitions over time, and not be abused merely to peddle one particular product.

Influencing consumer opinion is not the same as being a spokesperson for a product. True influencers do not parrot the brand’s marketing message but bring in their own content, experience, and know-how.

Read also: How to Become a Smarter Marketer

4) Treating influencers like an advertising channel

Let me repeat the last sentence in bold: true influencers do not parrot the brand’s marketing message but bring in their own content, experience, and know-how. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s 5G smartphones or fashion accessories: what you want from an influencer as a brand is not just a cold repetition of your marketing message, but an opinion based on facts. The best influencers are those that actually believe in the brand, for whatever reason.

Some of the best influencer examples are users who discover a new product with enthusiasm, recommend it full-heartedly, and continuously discover new features and applications. It does not matter if we are talking food supplements for bodybuilders (“It works!”) or the latest table or notebook. The personal, informed, and convincing opinion of the influencer matters.

Read also: Don’t Build Your House on Rented Land: 6 Basic Content Marketing Rules

5) Not monitoring the campaign

An all-too-common mistake! Just like an advertising campaign, specific influencer campaigns should be monitored, data analyzed, and conclusions drawn for future campaigns.

I’ve worked on hundreds of campaigns, and I can loosely group them in two categories: those where the influencer fails, and those where the message fails. The data will show the difference.

How much engagement vs. actual actions taken, for example, is an easy metric. If the influencer has a lot of engagement but very few people actually download the white paper or join the chat, this is usually indicative of a lack of interest in the product, not a failure by the influencer … and vice-versa.

Read also: KPIs are for losers. Get rid of them!

6) Not having a clear call-to-action

Every social media campaign, be it ads, blog posts, Facebook AMAs, or what have you, should come with a clear call-to-action that is easy to access, free of charge, and meaningful.

Easy to access means don’t lead people to a two-age from with 100 fields to fill in. That campaign will fail not because of the influencer, but because people can’t be bothered to fill in your form.

It should be free-of-charge because as soon as the financial aspect comes into play, the metrics get distorted. You can always make a financial offer in the final document delivered.

Lastly, meaningful because whatever message you are trying to convey, it should have some link to your mission, your bottom line, or your sales target. Influencing just to gain a following is a nice goal, but should not be the main focus of any campaign.

Read also: Inbound Marketing Explained

7) Spamming

Well. I won’t mince words here. Do not abuse the power of an influencer to then spam people on e-mail or social media. E-mail is still great, but seeing the same influencer message too many times is a real turn-off. The same goes for ad campaigns based on influencer messages. The more spammy they appear, the less credibility the influencer is left with.

Read also: Why E-Mail Marketing Is Still A Thing

Published by Dr Martin Hiesboeck

Futurist, Marketer, Policy Advisor for Companies and Government Head of Blockchain and Crypto Research at Uphold and CEO of Alpine Blockchain Consultants Zurich - London - New York - Taipei

4 thoughts on “The 7 Deadly Sins of Influencer Marketing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: