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5 influencer marketing mistakes that can hurt your brand and reputation

by | Jan 18, 2023 | Public Relations

Influencer marketing is a superb tool that can take your PR strategy to the next level. It brings your brand in front of new active consumer audiences and engages them in a subtle, organic way. Yet, many marketers dive into influencer marketing without proper research and awareness of its specifics. What they get is a bumpy ride that may not quite bring their brand the anticipated results. 

In this guide, we will tell you about the 5 biggest influencer marketing mistakes you can make when working with social media influencers. You’ll learn how to avoid them and ensure your influencer marketing campaign is running smoothly and generating the effect your brand is after.

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is the practice of collaborating with social media influencers to promote a brand to wider audiences.

Influencers are content creators who have generated large follower communities on their social media profiles. These communities are dedicated social media users who take their favorite influencers’ opinions seriously. Indeed, influencers have a huge impact on people’s brand choices and purchasing decisions—40 percent of people reported buying a product as a result of an influencer recommendation.

Major benefits of influencer marketing for PR

You can leverage influencers’ social capital to improve your PR strategy. The main advantages of influencer marketing include:

  • wider audience reach
  • higher engagement with potential customers
  • increased organic traffic to your brand web pages
  • solidifying a positive brand image, etc.

The top 5 influencer marketing mistakes you should avoid

To make sure you reap all the benefits of influencer marketing, you should do it the right way. Take a close look at these 5 influencer marketing mistakes to steer clear of potential pitfalls that may hurt your brand reputation:

1. Acting without determining clear campaign goals

It may be tempting to plunge right into action and start creating promotional content for your brand together with an influencer. But if you don’t have the WHYs of your influencer marketing campaign, how will you figure out the WHATs and HOWs?

Without a proper understanding of your campaign goals, you risk generating random influencer marketing content that won’t produce any consistent benefits for your brand.

Avoid this mistake:

Take your time to outline the main campaign goals.

Do you want to boost brand awareness? Increase your conversion rates? Promote the new products you’ve just launched on the market? Make sure you know WHY you’re initiating the influencer marketing campaign in the first place.

Once you know what you want to achieve, you’ll be able to work out a slick content strategy together with your influencer.

2. Choosing influencers based on their follower count alone

This is a classic rookie mistake in influencer marketing. You might think that the more followers an influencer has the better results they will generate for the campaign. However, you can benefit from collaborating with influencers with audiences of various scales.

5 influencer marketing mistakes that can hurt your brand and reputation

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  • In fact, mega-influencers (with 1 million followers and more) tend to have lower engagement rates than influencers with smaller audiences.

5 influencer marketing mistakes that can hurt your brand and reputation

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  • Besides, collaborating with celebrity influencers is costly and might not fit your campaign-allocated budget.

More importantly, if you only look at the follower count, you might choose an influencer whose content doesn’t align with your business niche, brand philosophy, and brand tone. This mismatch can lead to creating an inconsistent brand image and shooting past your target audience.

Avoid this mistake:

Focus on several key factors that will help you pick the right influencer for your brand:

  • Consider the influencer’s niche. For example, if you’re a clothing brand, it makes sense to collaborate with a fashion influencer. Are you a SaaS company? Look for tech influencers—you get the idea. This way, you’ll make sure your branded content will land among the right audiences;
  • Check the influencer’s engagement rates. This metric is often more important than a follower count. The higher the engagement rates, the more traffic, conversions, and sales the influencer will generate for your brand;
  • Analyze the influencer’s content. Does it align with your brand voice and tone? Does it project the values your brand advocates? Is it appealing to your target audience? Is the content of high quality? Make sure you answer “yes” to all these questions before picking a social media content creator;

Neal Taparia, who runs cribbage-online.net, suggests using reference checks. “Just like with any big decision, we do reference checks. We ask influencers to provide references to past campaigns to get insights into how dependable and effective the influencer is before promoting our games with them.”

Pro-tip: pay special attention to nano- and micro-influencers. Despite having fewer followers than social media celebrities, these content creators have a lot to offer to your PR strategy. They have higher engagement rates, offer more authenticity, and are more attentive to your brand’s unique content requests.

3. Failing to consistently engage with your social media audiences

Influencer marketing is effective because it is an authentic and interactive marketing tool. But if you fail to leverage this potential for interaction and engagement, an influencer marketing campaign may be a waste of time and money.

Failing to engage with your audiences may mean:

  • your influencer doesn’t reply to user comments and/or answer user questions;
  • the influencer doesn’t encourage organic user activity (likes, shares, comments, etc.);
  • you don’t include concise, effective CTAs in your promotional content;
  • you focus on passive promotional content (blunt advertising) instead of interactive, authentic social media posts.

Avoid this mistake:

Concentrate on the influencer marketing content that inspires user engagement and positions your brand as authentic and consumer-centered. The most popular types of effective influencer content on social media include:

  • Brand/product reviews and trials. If you want to center your campaign around a specific product, this type of content is an excellent choice. Social media users love product reviews because they can get as close to a first-hand experience with a brand as possible.

5 influencer marketing mistakes that can hurt your brand and reputation

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  • Hashtag challenges and campaigns. Hashtag challenges are an absolute hit on TikTok and Instagram. Challenges harness thousands of participants, set social media trends, and go viral to give brands an incredible boost in popularity;

5 influencer marketing mistakes that can hurt your brand and reputation

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  • Giveaways. Giveaway campaigns can attract huge audiences – people love free stuff and the element of gambling that comes with giveaway contests;

5 influencer marketing mistakes that can hurt your brand and reputation

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  • Social media takeovers. Your influencer can effectively “lure” their audiences into your branded account by taking over your social media for a day or several days. This is another trendy content type users love interacting with;

5 influencer marketing mistakes that can hurt your brand and reputation

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Pro-tip: no matter what content types you implement in the campaign, have your influencer engage and communicate with users. Create a list of simple CTAs the influencer can use when interacting with followers to encourage them to get familiar with your brand.

4. Not maintaining strong relationships with influencers

Oftentimes, once the campaign is over, brands simply cease all contact with the influencers. This approach may seem functional and pragmatic but it may have a negative effect on your brand long-term. 

Chances are, you’ll want to leverage influencer marketing again down the road. And if you discard the influencer upon the completion of your campaign, they might not feel like collaborating with you again.

  • It means you’ll have to look for new content creators to work with, allocating extra time and resources to influencer search;
  • On top of that, your brand reputation may suffer. Influencers are a tight bunch, and word can quickly spread that you don’t treat collaborators with the respect they deserve.

Avoid this mistake:

Build and maintain connections with your influencers even after the influencer marketing campaign is over. It won’t require too much of your time and resources if you follow these simple steps:

  • keep following the influencers’ social media accounts;
  • like and share their posts if the content relates to your niche;
  • include them in your emailing lists to send relevant offers and deliver your branded news;
  • initiate short-term collaborations (sponsored posts, giveaways, podcast episodes etc.);

Pro-tip: invite your most loyal influencers to become your brand ambassadors. A dedicated influencer who knows and has worked with your brand will help you consistently promote it and communicate its value to wider social media audiences. But in order to build an image of a credible when brand when your invite influencers to sign up for your email list, you need to follow DMARC statistics, and taking necessary steps for guaranteeing email security.

5. Focusing on sales and ignoring other campaign KPIs

Every business chases higher sales figures—that’s a given, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Yet, if you only focus on sales as an indicator of your influencer marketing campaign success, you might be making a mistake.

Don’t think your campaign has failed because you didn’t hit your sales target this month/quarter. Influencer marketing can bring other, less obvious results that will still help you grow your brand and improve its reputation on the market.

Avoid this mistake:

Estimate the potential results of your influencer marketing campaign using a free influencer marketing ROI calculator, and track its progress across several KPIs that are important for your business. These include:

  • Social media growth (aka brand awareness). Tracking this basic metric is a great indicator of how effective your campaign has been. The better an influencer is at their job, the more people will discover and follow your brand on social media. Besides, you can track the demographics of your growing follower base and see what types of consumers your messaging appeals to;
  • Engagement rates. We’ve already mentioned how crucial engagement rates are in influencer marketing. Make sure your influencer rocks this KPI if you want your brand to gain a solid social media presence;
  • Traffic on your web pages. A successful influencer marketing campaign will drive more users to your brand’s website. If you observe a consistent growth in visitor numbers on your landing and product pages, the campaign is working;
  • Leads and conversions. You can’t make sales without nailing quality lead generation and conversions. Track these metrics during the campaign to see how effective it is at converting consumers into leads and real customers.

Pro-tip: do you want to focus on the effect of the influencer marketing campaign on your brand’s PR success? Conduct brand sentiment analysis. You’ll see how the audiences’ opinion of your brand has changed as a result of the campaign messaging and brand narrative promotion by the influencer.

Conclusion

An influencer marketing campaign can make or break the success of your brand on social media and beyond. A poorly planned and launched campaign may cost your business both customers and a reputation.

The good news is, now you’re equipped with the best tips to avoid the top 5 influencer marketing mistakes. With solid campaign goals, the right influencer, and smart campaign tracking you’re sure to benefit from influencer marketing. And it’s not only about sales—you’ll expand your audience reach, establish a positive brand image, and inspire brand trust in social media users.

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David Morneau
David Morneau is the co-founder and CEO of inBeat, a hybrid micro-influencer marketing SAAS/agency that helps brands scale their marketing efforts. He has helped over 200 DTC brands to date.

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