An influencer is a person who can help raise awareness of your brand, products or services to influence people to buy from you. Influencer marketing requires identifying, researching and engaging the right people who can influence your target audience to achieve your marketing objectives.
However, it's easy to miss the mark when embarking on an influencer marketing campaign. It pays to be aware of some of the potential pitfalls so you can avoid them.
The Challenges of Influencer Marketing
There are caveats to heed when embarking on an influencer marketing campaign. For one thing, it' important to choose someone who will care for your product or your brand and do it justice. The stories you tell about your product or brand should be authentic.
Another challenge is tracking the ROI of an influencer marketing campaign, which may not be so easy to measure. It's important, therefore, to set clearly defined measurable goals for your campaign, whether it's increased sales, raising your brand awareness or reaching a new target audience.
Influencer marketing depends on credibility and perceived trust, says David Meerman Scott. (Scott is a marketing strategist, entrepreneur and bestselling author of Fanocracy: Turning Fans Into Customers, and Customers Into Fans.)
Image Credit: David Meerman Scott
"The best people to champion your ideas or products," says Scott, "are those who are the most believable.
"Many companies invest a lot of money on celebrities who become paid spokespeople for their brand, frequently through posts by the celebrity on social media," he continues. "With celebrity endorsements, the company is looking to build greater positive awareness for the products or services they produce."
But do they succeed in building greater awareness of your product or brand? Not necessarily, says Scott.
A celebrity who wears a piece of jewelry to an event, once, and posts a photo of the evening on social feeds might generate temporary attention. Yet it's unlikely to lead to sustained sales if the celebrity wears the jewelry once and isn't perceived as a true fan of the product, he says.
Influencer marketing can go sour in other ways. According to Scott, business owners should beware of situations where an influencer is out of control or doesn't have a clue about how to best represent your company.
"Be aware when you are hiring that any negativity associated with somebody you hire to represent you can harm your brand," Scott says.
Image Credit: Dave Kerpen
"You'll also want to look for an influencer who is authentically a fan of your product or service and ideally would have promoted it without you even asking," agrees Dave Kerpen, founder and CEO of Likeable Local, a social media software company serving small businesses, as well as chairman of Likeable Media, a social media and word-of-mouth marketing agency for big brands. (Kerpen is also a global keynote speaker and bestselling author of The Art of People.)
And just because an influencer has a large audience, doesn't mean they are the right fit for your company.
"You'll want to find an influencer," says Kerpen, "whose audience has as much overlap as possible with your audience."
Image Credit: Seth Godin
That said, there are many who question the value of such marketing efforts. Marketing expert and entrepreneur Seth Godin doesn't believe in influencer marketing. When asked what's one mistake business owners make in reaching out to influencers to market their company, Godin's response was short and to the point: “They reach out. "
"I never participate in these," he adds. “I don't think the endless hustle to somehow associate with other people is a good way to contribute to those you seek to lead."
Be aware when you are hiring that any negativity associated with somebody you hire to represent you can harm your brand.
—David Meerman Scott, marketing strategist
In his latest book, This is Marketing, Godin writes that in promoting a product or a company, “The dream is that with public relations, with hype, with promotion, with distribution, with ad buys, with influence marketing, with content marketing, and with a little bit of spam . . . [the product or company] will become the 'it' thing and everyone will want it. . . most of the time this approach leads to failure."
Still, if you're interested in getting into influencer marketing, how do you get it right? What can you do to leverage influencer marketing to help you grow your company? It all starts with vetting your influencers to find the right influencer for your brand. Then consider these seven steps to help you collaborate with the influencers you hire.
Six Steps to Collaborate With Influencers
- Work on building and nurturing the relationship with your influencers.Think long term. Your rapport with your influencer is the grease that makes the relationship run smoothly. It's a solid foundation for a mutually-beneficial relationship.
- Help them understand your product or brand. "Make it easy for them to share your content," advises Kerpen.
- Give them some latitude in the way they talk about your product or brand.While it's important that you keep an eye on your influencers' campaign, allow them some freedom to express their creativity. After all, they know best what would resonate with their followers.
- Offer an incentive any influencer would want. Kerpen advises giving a free valuable product in addition to monetary compensation. For example, Scott says companies give influencers free meals, hotel suites, travel expenses, designer clothes and/or jewelry. Consider gifting your influencers with free experiences or other services they might like. You might also consider an affiliate marketing arrangement. You could also give them early or exclusive access to your products and services and other goodies.
- Pay your influencers on time. Providing timely compensation strengthens the trust in the relationship.
- Realize influencers are not your employees. Treat them like partners. Ultimately, it's about establishing a collaborative partnership based on authenticity and mutual trust. Collaborating with influencers and treating them right may boost your chances that they will market your product credibly rather than coming across as an impersonal marketing push.
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