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September 16, 2016
5 Influencer Marketing Pitfalls to Avoid
Imagine landing a brand ambassador who already has thousands, if not millions, of fans to promote your product to. Sound impossible? Not in the slightest. Every day, social media turns people with extraordinary talents and personalities into stars, and with it, an opportunity for them to make money as influencers; in turn, drawing more attention to unknown brands. 
81% of marketers experience success with influencer marketing, with almost 60% of them increasing their influencer marketing budget in 2016. While influencer marketing is undoubtedly effective, it’s still not immune to pitfalls of its own. Like any other branch of internet marketing, influencer marketing, when poorly executed, is a waste of money and time. Let’s explore five major pitfalls.
Pitfall #5: Unaware of Your Influencer’s Brand
Example: Suppose you want to promote a new brand of vegan cookies. You find a popular YouTube food influencer with lots of likes, shares, comments, and subscribers. Your influencer dedicates an entire video to your cookies, but it’s not turning the needle. In fact, you even find the following comments on the video:
“Blech! I hate vegan food.”
“I don’t understand WHY anyone would want to eat vegan cookies! I just don’t get the vegan thing at all”
After digging further, you realize that your influencer does not attract a vegan audience whatsoever. In fact, their YouTube channel is filled with buttery dessert recipes and meat grilling tutorials. This is a classic example of not understanding your influencer’s brand. The best way to avoid this, is to do more research outside of social metrics, and consider aspects like genre and the products they typically promote.
Pitfall #4: Problems with Authenticity
75% of consumers use social media to guide their buying choices, and a whopping 92% trust recommendations from real people over typical marketing tactics like billboards, print ads, and TV commercials. People are attracted to personal recommendations because they ring authentic. Whether the recommendation is from a friend or a favorite YouTuber, it’s authenticity that seals the deal.
To measure the level of authenticity an influencer has, consider the following questions:
  • Are they authentic in their delivery or sound too unnatural?
  • Do they offer genuine opinions and tips about the product?
  • Do their subscribers’ comments appear authentic and engaged as well?
  • Do comments reveal trust or skepticism about the influencer?
The last thing you want is your product promoted by an influencer with questionable authenticity and trustworthiness.
Pitfall #3: Doubting Your Influencer’s Judgement
You want everything to go just right, so the hesitancy to relinquish control is totally understandable. However, control problems can torpedo great sponsorship deals before they even get off the ground.
It’s important to understand that your influencer’s audience is just that — their audience. They know what their fans want and don’t want, and controlling how influencers promote to their audiences only hurts authenticity and leads to the following problems:
  • Damaged long-term business relationships
  • Terminated contracts with popular influencers
  • Uninspired sponsored content
  • Possibility of your brand being read as negative or uninspired
Pitfall #2: Not Having Your Ducks in a Row
Planning makes perfect, and you never want to miss an opportunity to let your product shine. If you leave your influencer in the dark, how can they best promote your product to their audience? Make sure to give your influencer the following information to avoid the pitfalls of disorganization:
  • A ready-to-buy product complete with packaging, product specifications, and directions.
  • History about the product, brand, and where it’s made.
  • A website to direct fans to if they want to buy the product.
  • Facts that make the product unique and relevant to the influencer’s audience.
Pitfall #1: Ignoring FTC Endorsement Rules
Now, for the biggest pitfall of them all. An influencer marketing plan is completely worthless if you and your influencer don’t follow the Federal Trade Commission’s rules for endorsements. Not following FTC guidelines can result in content being pulled from social channels and you being subject to possible legal trouble. The following are important mistakes influencers must avoid when promoting sponsored content.
  • Failing to identify tweets and social media posts as sponsored.
  • Failing to disclose that sponsored content will be included in a YouTube video.
  • Not including a disclosure with an endorsement in the same piece of promotional content.
  • Not including a disclosure in audio-only sponsored content.
  • Not making a disclosure easy to find or read. 
No doubt, influencer marketing can send brands right from obscurity and into the limelight. You don’t want to waste your opportunity. Don’t let bad research, lack of authenticity, creative control, disorganization, and poor disclosure practices to detour your marketing campaign.

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Eric Brantner has spent the last decade of his life obsessed with all things related to internet marketing. As a serial blogpreneur, he has started several successful blogs, reaching millions of visitors in the process. He has just launched his latest site Scribblrs.com where he shares his experience starting blogs and offers tips to new bloggers seeking success.
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