Major common mistakes brands make with influencer marketing

Social media is still new to many of my clients. There are new terms and for most it takes a new mindset. Although there can be a steep learning curve on both sides, bloggers, especially women, say they want to work with brands. Hopefully pointing out common mistakes brands make can help. I polled my peers on Twitter and Facebook to get their input. Most reported a struggle to educate brands or PR firms on what they do, their value, and how to best approach their audience.As more brands turn to social media to reach and engage consumers, many naturally choose to work with influencers to front campaigns.

Major common mistakes brands make with influencer marketing

what is influencer marketing?

What is Influencer Marketing?

You know how you can get so caught up in your own industry’s jargon that you forget what it sounds like to everyone else?

Well, here at TapInfluence, we talk a lot about influencer marketing, and how influencer marketing should be a vital part of your brand strategy, blah blah blah, and so on and so forth.

We live and breathe influencer marketing every day, so much so that we often forget that not everyone knows what it is!

That’s what this blog post is for. We’ll share our definition of influencer marketing, explain how it differs from other forms of marketing, and get you thinking about how you can make it can work for your brand by looking at the unique elements that compose influencer campaigns.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market. Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, you instead inspire / hire / pay influencers to get out the word for you.

Influencer marketing often goes hand-in-hand with two other forms of marketing: social-media marketing and content marketing. Most influencer campaigns have some sort of social-media component, whereby influencers are expected to spread the word through their personal social channels. Many influencer campaigns also carry a content element in which either you create content for the influencers, or they create the content themselves. Though social-media and content marketing often fit inside influencer campaigns, they are not synonymous with influencer marketing.

What’s the Difference Between Word-of-Mouth Marketing and Influencer Marketing?

Although some people use word-of-mouth marketing and influencer marketing interchangeably, there’s a real difference between the two disciplines. Whereas influencer marketing is the concept of engaging key individuals to leverage their influence among friends and family, word-of-mouth marketing is the actual avenue by which this communication takes place. So, almost all influencer marketing includes word-of-mouth marketing activities by its nature, but not all word-of-mouth marketing is driven by influencer campaigns.

Is Advocate Marketing the Same as Influencer Marketing?

Advocate marketing isn’t influencer marketing, either. The best way to understand the difference is that advocate marketing focuses on encouraging or incentivizing already-loyal customers to share their love of your brand or product. The sharing might happen by way of product reviews and customer references.

With influencer marketing, you’re more focused on finding influencers—not necessarily current customers—to spread your message. Another distinguishing factor between influencer marketing and advocate marketing is that influencers are almost always paid in some way, either with money or free products. Advocate marketing focuses less on payment, more on driving brand loyalty, which in turn multiples the number of vocal advocates.

What are the Key Components of Influencer Marketing?

Since influencer marketing is a discipline all its own, you’ll need a few unique components to build an influencer campaign. Here are the steps we at TapInfluence use to help our clients build influencer campaigns:

1. Identify key brand or product influencers, either manually or through a platform like TapInfluence
Create a marketing campaign directed at those influencers

2. Create a secondary marketing campaign for the influencers to drive greater awareness to a larger set of target consumers

3. Track key metrics relating to reach, sales and brand awareness

If you’re with a brand or agency and you’re interested in running influencer campaigns, click below to schedule a demo of any influencer platform today.

The process isn’t always easy, of course.

As highlighted in Econsultancy’s Voice of the Influencer report, there appears to be somewhat of a power struggle between brands and influencers, with the main challenges involving strategy and motivation.

So, here’s a bit of insight into the biggest mistakes brands can make, and why it’s important to avoid them.

Choosing influence over authenticity

The natural instinct for brands is to choose an influencer with the largest audience. While this makes sense in theory – as in the bigger the influence, the greater the reach – it can also backfire.

This is because real influence comes from a sense of authenticity. In other words, a person who is staying true to their own beliefs or values, and in turn, promoting a product that somehow reflects this.

It’s recently been proven that micro influencers (those with 500 to 10,000 followers) generate greater engagement that those with a larger audience. So, just like you might be more inclined to trust the opinion of a friend rather than a celebrity, consumers are more likely to trust someone with a smaller reach but who is a respected authority on a particular topic.

For brands, it’s important to get this balance right, choosing the person whose identity best fits the campaign rather than chasing who is the most popular.

Read why Iceland has chosen to work with micro influencers instead of celebrities.


Despite 93% of influencers believing that they should be in charge the narrative of a campaign – brands often struggle to relinquish control.

Historically, brands determine everything from the copy to the look and design of a campaign. However, with many influencers used to creating their own content, complex negotiation is required to determine exactly what will be said or how it will be done.

The key appears to be compromise – especially when it comes to brand marketing messages.

On a platform such as Instagram, for example, overly branded images can come across as unnatural and disruptive to the style of the feed. So, while it’s important for branded messages to be included, it’s also crucial that influencers incorporate them in a natural and subtle way.

The below example strikes me as one that gets the balance right.

Watch brand Daniel Wellington worked with a number of lifestyle influencers on Instagram. It chose selectively, however, only teaming up with bloggers whose feed already reflects the brand’s pared down aesthetic.

While a discount code was included to drive sales, the product itself was barely highlighted, being a small part of the overall image.

Campaign overkill

This leads us nicely onto the next common mistake, which is flooding users with multiple messages or posts relating to a campaign.

Influencer marketing is built on the notion that the audience already exists – the brand is simply using the influencer as the vehicle to send the audience a message.

Consequently, it is easy to alienate audiences (who are coming to a channel for a certain type of post) by bombarding them with brand slogans.

This means that subtle campaigns, such as one-off posts, can be more effective. Alternatively, using multiple influencers in a campaign hosted on the brand’s own marketing channels, such as from Gap, uses storytelling elements rather than blatant advertising.

Focusing on the numbers

Lastly, with 75% of influencers citing frustration over reach and follower figures being of primary importance to brands, it again falls to marketers to change the perception of sponsorship deals.

Like choosing influence over authenticity, brands can make the mistake of measuring success in terms of reach or sales following a campaign.

Rather, factors like positive sentiment, increased awareness and online interaction can be equally important measures of success (for both brands and influencers alike).

Look at the relationship as “an opportunity to receive targeted consumer input, feedback and real-time social interaction,” says Sabra. A partnership that works should generate excitement or buzz through engaging on various platforms (i.e. video, a blog, Facebook fan page and Twitter).

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