Influencer Marketing for Beginners: 7 Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them


So you’ve taken the leap, set aside the budget and are ready to make the investment into influencer marketing in 2017. But where do you go from here?

In this series of upcoming blog posts, we are going to be focusing on the common stumbling blocks and challenges of starting out with influencer marketing, with a view to making the whole process a little bit less daunting. Today’s post addresses the ways that brands often go wrong when embarking upon an influencer marketing project for the first time, as well as how to avoid falling into the same traps!

Here are our 7 common pitfalls – lessons hard learnt!

Pitfall 1: Working with the wrong influencer

It goes without saying that when it comes to brands using influencer marketing, choice of influencer is all-important. It’s all too tempting to let your heart be fickley won over by impressive follower numbers and buoyant unique users, but a successful influencer marketing endeavour should look past these often misleading figures. What really matters when selecting an influencer to work with, is their relevance to your brand.

How to avoid it:

Think very carefully about what audience you want to reach with your campaign, and try to align this as closely as possible with the audience of the influencer you work with. Our detailed guide to finding the right influencers for your brand can be found here, but simply put, an influencer marketing campaign is a waste of time and money if the partnership isn’t right.

Pitfall 2: Not paying attention to the platform, as well as the influencer

Identifying the right influencer to work with is of course essential, but many rookie Influencer markers forget to pay attention to which platform is best for promoting their products. Influencers are often associated with blogging and social media, but not only do those two areas cover a multitude of different channels and platforms, there are also the vloggers, journalists and, in some cases, critics to consider. Investing in an influencer marketing campaign with an individual whose influence is restricted to one platform only will only work if your target audience are actively engaged with it.

How to avoid it:

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for this one – it takes elbow grease and a great deal of research into your desired target market, their likes and dislikes, their online habits and their responsiveness to specific forms of content. For example, a fashion brand would be foolish to disregard Instagram influencers, as this is the platform of choice for many wannabe fashionistas.

Pitfall 3: Creating an advert, not a campaign

Simply put, influencer marketing is flourishing because consumers are tired of being advertised to. Using influencers to promote products and services appeals to people, as the approachability and personal touch aspects make the whole process an ‘opt-in’ concept – consumers choose to listen to influencers, adverts impose on consumers. This considered, one of the most common reasons for an influencer marketing campaign to be unsuccessful is for it to be too advert-like, and not sincere or authentic.

How to avoid it:

Ensure that you are working with an influencer who really believes in your brand, and whose values align with your own. This way, their endorsement of it will be endlessly more sincere and consumers will respond accordingly. To be extra sure that your influencer will make this happen, check through their work thoroughly before approaching them to collaborate – do they write regularly from their own perspective? Is their content original, and not contrived? If they have worked with brands in the past, have they promoted them in a believable way?

Pitfall 4: Not setting out clear ROIs

A tricky aspect about influencer marketing, is that it is often quite vague and ambiguous in terms of measurable results. As it is based on creating ‘positive feelings’ within consumers towards certain brands, it is no surprise than many who have engaged in influencer marketing campaigns have found the outcomes of them hard to ascertain, and therefore hard to define as a success or a failure. Not agreeing your expectations and objectives with your influencer before beginning the process of working together, or devising a method of recording them, makes assessing the success of the campaign an awful lot harder.

How to avoid it:

Be frank and open with your influencer – they will understand that you don’t want to work with them and not be able to see the results. Think about what the ultimate goal of the campaign is, but also consider the smaller by-products (think increased engagement on your social media channels, more traffic through to your website etc). They key here is to be specific, not only with your ROIs, but exactly how and when you will take stock of them. Set timescales and key dates to keep you on track.

Pitfall 5: Assuming you are more important than the influencer

Working with influencers is not simply paying someone to talk about your brand and watching your business grow and sales skyrocket. Never forget that influencers are worth money because they have influence and power. They can succeed where other marketing campaigns will fail, and this is why they are valuable to you as a brand. If you fail to acknowledge this, it is likely that your campaign will not be as successful as it could have been, and your influencer (not to mention their audience) will fall out of love with your brand.

How to avoid it:

See your collaboration with an influencer as you making an investment in them – make sure that you are giving them a project they can really get their teeth into, and that will really resonate with their followers. Influencers spend their time building relationships with consumers that have the potential to become your customers – never underestimate this.

Pitfall 6: Not including a CTA in the campaign

It is all very well building brand awareness and affinity through working with influencers, but anyone who claims that they’re not ultimately hoping for an increase in revenue from influencer marketing is telling a bit of a porky pie. One thing that is absolutely rudimentary in generating sales through online marketing campaigns, but which constantly gets forgotten, is the CTA (call to action). If you don’t include a clear action for your target audience to spur them on beyond just the campaign, they won’t be spurred on. Simple as that!

How to avoid it:

Decide what you want your potential customers to do once they’ve seen your influencer marketing campaign and are at their most engaged with it. Should they proceed to your website to browse your products? Should they go to some of your other social channels? Or is it something more interactive, like sharing their own photos and experiences? Including this in your campaign keeps the consumer enthusiastic about your brand and is more likely to convert them into paying customers.

Pitfall 7: Not valuing your influencer enough

In a similar way to pitfall 5, underestimating your influencer’s value is one of the most dangerous games a brand can play. Influencers work incredibly hard to create the kind of receptive, engaged audience that a brand can market to, and this is something that has to be not only appreciated, but paid for. For many brands entering into an influencer marketing campaign for the first time, it can be tempting to think that the influencers you work with have a fairly easy ride – on the surface, it appears that one short blog post or a couple of carefully worded tweets can bring in more money than most people earn in a week. However, not recognising the immense amount of work that goes on behind the scenes for the average influential blogger or social star leads to sour relations and bad vibes – remember that influencers do not work in isolation, and bad experiences can spread quickly.

How to avoid it:

Agree a fee with your influencer that you are both happy with. Although influencers are usually keen to receive free products and discounts, this is NOT enough compensation for their work. Remember what you are paying for!

Final thought

Although forms of influencer marketing have existed as long as advertising itself, it has only recently become so mainstream and accessible to all. For this reason, it is natural for brands to find themselves somewhat daunted when setting out.

Keep an eye out for the rest of our ‘Influencer Marketing for Beginners’ series however, and you won’t go far wrong!