Mistakes Brands Make When Working With Influencers

Header photo by Amanda Vick on Unsplash

This blog post first appeared on Just Peachy Blog in 2017 and has been updated.

After having worked in influencer marketing for more than 9 years (yes, since the beginning!) plus my experience on both sides — brand and creator — I’ve been able to collect a few do’s and don’t’s for influencer marketing over the years. Most marketers like to focus on what the influencers do to jeopardize the project, but many don’t consider the other side.

Influencers are tight-knit, and they talk! A poor experience with one brand may get shared and result in other influencers turning down an otherwise worthwhile campaign on the basis of the story they heard. It’s always wise to treat others with respect, and these mistakes are easy to make. Make sure you don’t commit these faux pas next time you introduce an influencer campaign!

Ask them to work for free.

I totally understand that budgets are tight. I had a small business of my own and we were unable to afford to pay influencers to talk about our product and send them product. We sent clothes (lots of clothes) and reposted their images on our own channels to spread the love. Sure, clothes don’t pay the bills, but it’s better than nothing. Small, locally-owned businesses aside, if you’re a well known brand, you should not be asking any level blogger to work for free. You should carefully select who you think matches your brand best and allocate budget for them. This may mean a smaller list of bloggers — that’s fine! Collaborations take more time to create than you think. Bloggers can spend 3 hours on a post, not to mention the cost of staging the photos or hiring a photographer. Many work 2 (or more) jobs, have families, want to be able to get 7-9 hours of sleep at night and get to talk about your product, so please value their time, their audience and their unique voices/influence with mutually beneficial compensation.

Fail to reciprocate support.

One of my biggest pet peeves with brand collaborations is when the relationship feels completely one-sided. Sure, you’re “hiring” the influencer to do work for you, but it goes a long way when a brand likes the photos they’re posting of their product, follows their account or even comments on one of their pictures. Companies are paying influencers to post about their products, so they should be reposting that content on their channels! A campaign should be more than just a one-time transaction. A successful campaign will create an ongoing relationship (or maybe friendship) that increases brand loyalty and goodwill.

Demand too many (or change) requirements.

My second biggest pet peeve is when things change. There should never be changes to a signed agreement, unless some unforeseen circumstances arise that require it. In that event, there should also be a change in compensation of some sort. If contracts need to change, you can smooth the situation with some sort of compensation whether it is fewer number of deliverables required or more money paid.

The compensation must match the amount of deliverables. Too many deliverables or requirements will stifle the influencer and not allow them to produce a successful piece of content, which will impact the results for your brand as well. Clearly outline all of the expectations plus compensation in your contract and avoid making changes at all costs.

Dictate the imagery used on social media.

You’re hiring an influencer because they’ve built a following on their own authentic content. They will be picky about the content they produce because they know their audience, and their audience knows them, and it’ll be obvious if they’re not creating something authentically in line with their own style. It’s acceptable to give guidelines (for example, don’t show the price tag or show the brand name clearly in focus) however, let the influencer have liberty to create visuals that will make the campaign successful with their audience, style and voice.

Require tight deadlines.

Influencers generally work from a content calendar which is planned in advance. Often times this is because they have a line-up of brand collaborations that they need to push out. I like to give influencers least 3 weeks to work on a collaboration, otherwise they may not be able to give their all if rushing to complete a project. It’s also not a good idea for ongoing partnerships to be planned with little time between. For example, if your partnership requires 3 Instagram posts, don’t make the posting schedule every day or even every other day. Most influencers dislike posting about the same brand or product back-to-back.

Don’t want to make a wrong step? I can help! Contact me today to get the ball rolling on an influencer campaign that produces results — and happy partners.

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