Are you frustrated by your efforts in Influencer Marketing? Wish to work more effectively with influencers in your social media marketing efforts?
In this article, I will highlight some of the common mistakes brands make in working with influencers, and propose a systematic way of working with them.
Much of my content here is drawn from the wonderful book Digital Influence by Joel Backaler, blended with my own experience as a B2B blogger who works with other influencers.
Before we dive into the steps needed to choose the right influencer for your brand, let us first look at some of the common mistakes that brands (and organisations) make when choosing influencers to work with.
7 Common Mistakes in Influencer Engagement
Few subjects trigger as much debate in social media marketing as influencer engagement. Often in the news for the right (and more often wrong) reasons, influencers are often polarising.
Adapting from an age-old saying… “One brand’s influencer may be another brand’s poison!”
Here are some of the most common mistakes brands make when hiring influencers (ie bloggers, YouTubers, Instagrammers, Facebookers, and other online content producers).
Mistake 1: Lacking a Social Media Marketing Plan
Working with influencers should form part of your social media marketing plan. This should cover areas like your marketing goals, social media channels, content types, content calendar, as well as how you can track and measure your social media ROI.
Without such a plan, engaging influencers could be both costly and unproductive.
Mistake 2: Focusing solely on Follower Count/ Page Views
Often, brands consider the biggest names in the influencer circuit as their preferred partners. These celebrity bloggers often boast massive follower numbers or web traffic.
Unfortunately focusing purely at numbers alone could result in brands overpaying for influencers that do not have the reach that they want.
Mistake 3: Failing to Consider an Influencer’s Fans
Regardless of your preferred influencer’s pecking order, you need to consider who their followers or fans are.
Would these folks be the right target audiences for your product or service? Do they have the purchasing power? Are they in the right age-group and income-levels? Do they have the right interests and lifestyle habits?
Mistake 4: Hiring Flavour-of-the-Month Influencers
Sometimes, brands get over-excited when they see an influencer hit the news. They imagine that working with this same influencer could get them the visibility and results that they need.
Such engagements can be disappointing as not all influencers can sustain the same public or media interest. Influencers that depend on controversial content (or trolling) to generate awareness may also not be attracting the wrong audience for your brand.
Mistake 5: Being Too Prescriptive
The best way to work with influencers (who are expert content creators) is to give them room to create their posts, videos, and articles. Restricting them to quotes that your CEO has cleared, or to carefully worded statements can result in the influencer sounding stilted and forced. This may negatively impact both your brand and the influencer’s reputation.
Mistake 6: Unrealistic Expectations
Finally, brands need to be realistic about what hiring influencers can bring them. Relying solely on what the influencer tells you alone without verifying what he or she can do would be foolish.
In a hyper-competitive and crowded influence marketplace, engaging influencers—even if they are A-listers—doesn’t automatically translate to burgeoning sales.
Mistake 7: Poor Brand-Influencer Fit
Finally, brands sometimes engage with influencers who are poorly matched to their brands due to the following:
- Wrong domain expertise (eg fashion vs business, or food reviews vs cooking)
- Wrong style/tone of voice
- Wrong content expertise
- Wrong market/ regional influence
Three Levels of Influence
To generate a better return on your influencer marketing efforts, you need to avoid making the above mistakes.
Before you decide on the best influencer for your brand, consider if they are Celebrities, Category Experts or Micro-Influencers. According to the book Digital Influence, they can be defined as follows:
#1 Celebrity Influencers
Possessing broad-based appeal across a mainstream group of fans, traditional celebrities include actors, athletes, musicians, and former politicians. They may also include online personalities with major followings who have achieved celebrity status.
Examples of celebrity influencers:
- Gwyneth Paltrow, actress who founded modern lifestyle brand goop.
- Tony Robbins, the billionaire motivational coach of presidents and CEOs around the world
- PewDiePie, the multi-millionaire YouTube influencer who has crossed over to mainstream media fame
#2 Category Experts
These are people who have a genuine interest, expertise or enthusiasm in a topic, be it cooking, beauty, marketing, or music. Often, they are practitioners in that area, or have sufficient in-depth expertise in that area.
Category Experts may either be established with a significant following (they are household names), or emerging with a substantial growing audience.
While these individuals may not have huge online reach, they are often very passionate about a specific topic, brand or product category. They could be enthusiasts in areas as diverse as extreme sports, baking, crochet art, to K-Pop groupies and Apple Mac nerds.
Depending on your brand’s needs, you may consider hiring different levels of influencers for different campaigns. This depends on your budget, target audiences, and marketing goals.
ABCCs of Influencer Selection
Regardless of your choice, it makes sense to follow the ABCC’s of selecting the best influencers, as suggested by Joel Backaler in Digital Influence:
- A = Authenticity
- B = Brand Fit
- C = Community
- C = Content
Let’s dive into each in some detail.
The best influencer-brand relationships are often seeded in authenticity. What this means is that the influencer should be seen to be credible throughout the marketing campaign, and not be perceived to be doing it just for the sake of money.
An authentic influencer campaign should also adhere to influencer marketing ethics. This includes being transparent about sponsored posts, and disclosing any commercial relationships between both parties.
An influencer like a blogger, YouTuber, or Instagrammer has a personal brand. The most effective ones take great pains to build their online brand, aligning it with the products and services that fit their values and their niche.
In choosing the right influencer to fit your brand, you should consider the following factors:
- B2B vs B2C: Depending on your business, it makes sense to choose influencers in the relevant business or consumer field
- Tone and Style: Does the influencer’s language impress or shock you? Does she fit into your brand image?
- Brand Affiliations: Are the brands which the influencer endorse (sponsored or otherwise) the same ones which your brand may be associated with?
Community (Reach, Resonance, Relevance)
Once you’ve got past the hurdle of choosing influencers with the right authenticity and brand fit, your next job involves looking at their community.
Ultimately, you should work with influencers who have a “targeted, engaged and growing community.” To do so, consider your desired influencer’s Reach, Relevance and Resonance:
- Reach: What is the total size of your influencer’s audiences across all social platforms? This could be measured by their followers, subscribers, web traffic, and other parameters. Often, this is related to their status (Celebrity, Category or Micro-Influencer).
- Resonance: How engaging is the influencer to his or her audiences? Engagement is measured by shares, likes, views, comments, retweets, clicks and other metrics per piece of content produced. “…if a tweet is sent to 100,000 followers and nobody retweets it, did the tweet have any resonance at all?”
- Relevance: This is somewhat related to brand-fit, and covers the influencer’s content-topic match with your own brand. This also look s at how closely your influencer’s community matches up to your desired target audience. Are the fans and followers of the influencer suitable for your brand or product category?
Last, but certainly not least, content makes the world of difference in how brand-influencer relationships may pan out. This should go beyond the platform which influencers specialise in (eg bloggers, YouTubers, Instagrammers…) to include the type of content (long-form and in-depth analysis versus shorter bite-sized).
Influencers often leverage multiple social networks. For example, a blogger may use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to share his posts. Here are some of the content/platform choices that influencers may specialise in:
- YouTube: Recorded videos and video blogs (vlogs)
- Facebook: Text posts, image posts, shorter videos, Live-Streaming videos
- Instagram: Photographs, Stories (15 second vertical videos), short videos (60 secs or less)
- Podcasts: Audio, usually with post production work
- Blogs: Long-form text, sometimes with embedded images and videos
- Twitter: Short-form text, with videos and images embedded
- Pinterest: Curated content or vertical format images including infographics
- LinkedIn: Business to Business (B2B) and professional advice
Choosing the right influencers to work with can make the critical difference between campaign success or failure. To help your brand succeed, you need to consider the following steps:
- Avoid the 7 common mistakes in influencer marketing above
- Consider the right mix of Celebrity, Category Expert, and Micro-Influencers based on your campaign duration, budgets and expectations
- Choose the most suitable influencer for your brand based on their Authenticity, Brand-fit, Community, and Content formats
What I’ve covered is just the tip of the ice-berg. To learn more about influencer marketing, do get a copy of Digital Influence – Unleash the Power of Influencer Marketing to Accelerate Your Global Business.
PS – If you’re new to influencer marketing, do also read this article introducing who influencers are, as well as this other piece on influencer marketing.
PPS – If you’re keen to work with an agency for your influencer marketing needs, drop us an email and we’ll be happy to catch up for a chat.