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Social Media Mistakes: Influencer Marketing Fails

Influencer marketing can be a great way to reach your potential customers in a crowded digital marketing environment. By finding influencers who share your brand values and the interests of your target audience, you can create personal connections and lasting relationships with the people who most value your brand.

But like any other channel, influencer marketing has to be done correctly. When you don’t properly strategize how you’re going to use this approach, you risk wasting money or seriously compromising your brand image. Here’s how influencer marketing can go wrong.

Why Influencer Marketing?

First, let’s talk about the value of influencer marketing. When executed properly it can be a powerful tool, especially in a world where the average customer sees thousands of advertising messages every day. Some benefits include:

  • Increased credibility: by putting a face on your brand, especially a face that your customers are already familiar with, you’ll build credibility with your audience.
  • Better brand awareness: the more exposure your brand gets among your audience, the better. By putting your brand on prominent social media accounts, you increase touch points among the people most likely to buy your product.
  • Richer content: when you partner with influencers, you’ll incorporate their image and style into your own, helping to fill out your social calendar and enrich your brand image.
  • Effective reach: by choosing the right influencers, you expand your reach well beyond the normal organic reach of your marketing.

If you’ve been struggling to gain traction or expand your reach in your industry, influencer marketing can be a fantastic way to broaden your organization’s influence and increase credibility.

The Value of Authenticity

One of the biggest mistakes that marketers make when running influencer marketing campaigns is a failure of authenticity. You’ll need to select influencers whose public brand aligns well with your own, but keep in mind that people are not brands — every individual has viewpoints, values, and priorities that don’t fit well with what you’re trying to portray.
When you choose an influencer, you put two brands at risk — yours and theirs. If the influencer steps out of line or voices an unpopular opinion that angers their fanbase, you’ll need to cut ties quickly or risk being brought down with them.

On the other hand, the influencer runs the risk of ruining their reputation if their audience thinks they’ve sold out for a product they don’t believe in. Do your research into an influencer before you partner with them to see what other products they’ve been promoting — if there’s no coherent image or industry that they seem to be associated with, you might want to steer clear.

When Influencer Marketing Goes Wrong

Both brands and influencers have suffered from significant miscommunications that have sunk marketing campaigns in the past. Here are a few key mistakes to avoid:

  • Copy/paste sloppiness: on more than a handful of occasions, influencers have mistakenly pasted instructions into their Instagram captions. When an influencer posts a caption that begins with “Make sure to sound excited,” their authenticity and reputation go down the drain.
  • Failure to disclose sponsored posts: your audience isn’t stupid — they can tell when sponsored posts are advertisements rather than organic suggestions. By being upfront about your advertising disclosures and sponsorships, you’ll avoid backlash from both the FTC and an audience that feels deceived.
  • Social issues: we all remember Pepsi’s ill-fated ad with Kendall Jenner handing a Pepsi to a police officer at a protest. While Pepsi’s intentions were good, the execution of the idea was ham-fisted and crude. In addition, audiences wondered what Pepsi (or Kendall Jenner, for that matter) had to do with the heavy issues of police brutality and racial inequity.

When you partner with an influencer, you surrender a degree of control over your brand image to the influencer’s whims. That’s why research is vital — you need to know that the person you’re working with represents the people you want to reach. It’s also important to stay in your lane. Don’t jump into hot-button issues just because they’re trending, especially if they have nothing to do with your brand. Finally, keep an eye on your influencers. If someone goes rogue and gets in trouble on social media, you need to be ready to distance yourself from them. Influencer marketing can be an excellent way to expand your marketing strategy, but it should be pursued with caution.

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