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It’s no surprise that brands are always looking for new and innovative ways to acquire new customers and communicate with their current ones. During the past decade, businesses were forced to adapt to a more consumer-oriented approach if they wanted to remain relevant. After all, a strong communication channel with consumers is directly correlated to repeat sales and continued brand loyalty.
With more attention available on social media now than ever before, most brands are beginning to explore influencer marketing. This goes hand-in-hand with the value of this communication channel: Consumers are glued to social media, using it as a source of news, information, communication, distraction and entertainment. Whether you are personally an Instagram fanatic or prefer one of the many other social-media platforms, you must look into expanding your brand’s footprint in this digital space if you want to run a successful company.
Many brands have found success through influencer marketing, but that doesn’t mean it will work seamlessly for everyone who tries to launch a campaign. There are some common challenges that many will face and need to navigate in order to connect with their customers effectively. Here are some common mistakes you should try to avoid from the beginning.
Partnering with an influencer who doesn’t align with your brand goals
The biggest mistake most brands make is partnering with the incorrect influencer that doesn’t properly align with their goals and branding. Historical data indicates that an influencer’s following and the success of his or her past campaigns don’t correlate with how successful his or her campaign run might turn out to be. This only means one thing: A well-planned partnership is more important than a sheet of numbers and fancy analytics.
Additionally, from my many years of experience running a multi-million dollar marketing and SEO firm, I know that influencer campaigns done with micro-influencers can actually be much more fruitful than partnering up with a largely followed person. Why? Because influencers with a smaller following and more specific niche can have a much stronger influence on their followers — one that feels less like a promotion and more like a recommendation.
If an influencer doesn’t match your audience, he or she will never make that valuable connection. The reason influencer marketing is so effective is because of that connection element. In the beginning, many brands were simply hiring influencers with the most followers to promote their offers.
The concept was so new that it was effective to a degree regardless of who the influencer was based on the numbers and return, even at a low engagement rate. Now consumers are smarter, and influencer rates are much higher, so your influencer must be perfectly aligned with your audience to be effective.
Focus on the quality of prospective influencer partners’ followers rather than how many they have. A micro-influencer with 10,000 perfectly aligned followers will often produce much better results than a random influencer with several million that are not relevant.
Coming up with campaign concepts that are not creative
Many brands will hire an influencer and give him or her a generic piece of content to post expecting amazing results. What happens? Usually, nothing really. These posts stick out like a sore thumb as they look like blatant advertisements and have engagement numbers that dwarf the person’s regular content reach.
Nobody wins when the campaign lacks creativity. You have to think of a fun and engaging campaign angle if the influencer partnership is long-term. Think of ways to integrate contests, giveaways, Q&As, etc.
The more involved you can get the influencer partner, the better the results will be. It will often take several interactions between an influencer and his or her followers to drive measurable results. Consumers are very aware of influencer marketing, and if the effort feels less than authentic, most will pass, viewing it as a cash grab by the influencer.
If you are just testing the waters and doing one-off posts, let the influencer introduce your product or service in a way he or she feels comfortable doing. Giving influencers creative control will result in a more authentic pitch and drive better results than if you just give them an image or video to post.
Positioning yourself as a brand with no direction or purpose
Brands that have a purpose beyond just selling and making money are more well-received when introduced via an influencer. If there is a cause or purpose behind a brand, this gives the influencer partner a creative way to introduce his or her followers to your product or service. Even a story could elevate a marketing campaign and make it stand out from the hundreds of ads consumers view on a daily basis. A brand with a story is always more likely to sell in today’s markets.
What are you passionate about? Is there a cause your brand stands behind and supports? Whether it’s donating a percentage of profits to a charitable organization or supporting local community initiatives, make it be known.
When an influencer can lead with that, he or she is seen as introducing a brand with a purpose to support, and not just a brand that wants to cash in and convert the influencer’s followers into sales. Aim to be a difference-maker — not just another brand looking to capitalize on a large engaged following.
When your brand is introduced this way, it can create long-term loyal brand supporters that not only become repeat purchasers, but also emerge as loyal ambassadors that help spread your purpose-driven message.