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We Get Why You F***Ing Hate Influencer Marketing

No really, we do.

It’s no secret that every industry has its good and bad side. With influencers hitting the headlines for everything from undisclosed ads, trolling their competition on gossip sites and eye-watering payment figures for social posts, we understand there’s a trust issue due to the actions of a few affection the perception of many. But when it comes to how you run influencer marketing for your own brand, the chances are if you hate it, don’t get, or simply don’t trust it – you’re most likely doing it wrong. But don’t worry… we’re here to help you.

Here’s the most common mistakes brands and marketers make when it comes to influencer marketing – and how best to avoid them.

Mistake #1 : Total, unquestioning trust

To the uninitiated, the idea of influencers can seem a little shady. That’s because like in any industry, a small number of them shouldn’t be trusted. So how can you spot a fake? Perhaps they’ve bought their followers –  and their engagement too? They’ve used #AD on a post that’s clearly not an ad? They might have gone so far as to fake a life event for engagement – from motorbike crashes to marriage proposals, we’ve honestly seen it all.

There’s also the trickery of influencer pods to unpack. These are groups of influencers that share every post with each other the moment it is pushed live, and as part of a deal all of the group’s members immediately comment and engage with the post in order to boost engagement. Sneaky? Yes. Authentic? Not at all.

Solution #1: Just do your damn homework!

There are endless ways to do thorough checks on your potential partners. And most of them don’t cost a thing.

1. Look at their follower to engagement ratio

Interrogate the numbers using reports and tools like Social Blade. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

2. Analyse the engagement

Is their audience consistent? Or is there a lot of following and unfollowing going on? If comments seem generic and random, their followers are likely to be bots.

3. Check branded activity

Do they work with credible brands like yours? And if so, are the #ads, really ads? Check to see if they’ve used the paid partnership feature, which has to be approved brand side before it can appear on an influencer’s page.

4. Who comments first?

Is it always the same content creators and influencers to comment first? Are the comments generic and seem disingenuous? This might indicate they’re part of an engagement pod. Like for like anyone?

5. Audience quality

It’s so not just a numbers game. Use free tools to analyse the quality of their audience too. This will help decipher which are real and which are bot followers.

Mistake #2 : Expecting Influencers to hit KPIs that were never set

If you didn’t set out what you wanted to achieve upfront, how will you know if you have achieved it? Have you chosen an influencer to work with based on what their USP is and what you need from them… or are they just a big deal right now? Different talent will deliver different results, so it’s important to assess the campaign objectives up front in order to match up the right people with the right brands.

Say you’re launching a new brand or onto a new social platform. This might be where you’d collaborate in order to create a bank of beautiful content without the huge production costs. If it’s awareness you need help with, you’ll need an influencer – and campaign approach that has real – not bought reach. If it’s direct sales you’re looking for – then don’t just consider which influencer can do that for you. Decide if your brand will be able to share sales data with your chosen agency so it can analyze, track and optimize influencer relationships to drive those sales.

Influencers are an amazing way to reach and recruit new customers. If this is your objective, don’t get hung up on an influencer who you love, whose followers could already be your followers. To reach a new audience, think outside the box.

Solution #2: Fools rush in, so think things through.

1. Interrogate the brief from the offset

As a brand, it’s on you to do the due diligence.

2. Set smart objectives

And KPIs to help achieve them, Be really specific here, for everyone’s sake.

3. Ensure the influencer is briefed properly

Before they say yes they need to know exactly what the deliverables and expectations are, and what the call to action for each asset should be.

Mistake #3: You’re choosing the wrong people

By that we could mean the wrong people for your brand, the wrong fit for your objectives, or sometimes, plain old wrong ‘uns. While content is king, authenticity is key. Here’s two types of partner to steer well clear of..

1. Big influence, little credibility.

You’ll know pretty quickly when you see sponsored posts that are clear badging exercises. You’ve never seen said influencer drink this coconut water before. In fact, you could have sworn she said she hates coconuts. Strange, no?

There’s also false endorsements to consider. Not just deceitful, but downright dangerous sometimes. On the extreme end of the scale, take the Lauren Goodger cyanide drink fiasco. It happens – and gives the industry a bad name sometimes – but is the exception, not the rule.

Finally, there’s the type of aspirational influencer whose content is a stream of overly fabricated, online reality. Do you really think those staged photos of extravagant room service breakfasts are fooling anyone? Yes, it made me hungry but no it didn’t make me want to buy whatever product is nestled between the pancakes and the croissants. A pretty picture – but driving any sort of meaningful results or value for the brand? Unfortunately not.

2. Creators with no brand alignment

 How many ads are too many ads? If every single post they do is paid for, then how can you know what are they actually into, organically? If you can’t tell, back away.

Next up, do a competitor check. Yes, they’re so right for your brand. But this means they might be so right for your closest competitor too. Finally, there’s bandwagoning. Ronan Keating was on to something – sometimes you do say it best when you say nothing at all. If you or your chosen influencer hasn’t got the credentials to back up your cause-related campaign, then steer well clear. The backlash won’t be pretty.

Solution #3: Archetypal Alignment

At Connects, we match up brands with archetypal characters – based on Carl Jung’s theory of personality – to better identify shared behaviours and values that result in long-term, authentic partnerships between the two parties. Identify your brand’s set of archetypes to identify the right influencers to collaborate with – this will allow you to communicate with them in a way that is meaningful. Put simply, when it comes to partnering with talent it’s about quality (shared values), not quantity (mass appeal but not a true representation of your brand’s message).

Mistake #4: Making up the rates as you go

Yes, an influencer might seem worth the price they are charging for the partnership. But understanding an influencer’s worth doesn’t have to be a guessing game. Or in the case of many reality show stars – a bidding war. A lot of data goes into finding the right rate to pay.

However, with zero pay transparency across the industry, there’s no stopping agents and influencers from naming their (often outrageously inflated) price. Both a veritable minefield for brands looking to collaborate and an opportunity for many talented content creators to get left behind and underpaid.

Solution #4: It’s really not that complicated.

At Connects we use standardized payment systems based on follower brackets to work out exactly how much to pay our talent. Based on the influencer’s tier, it ensures a fair playing field across the board. It’s good business for us too – allowing us to accurately forecast and budget when pitching talent to our clients.

Mistake #5: Influencer culture is bad for our mental wellbeing

We get why you might be cautious. If as adults we can feel the pull of social media – what must it be like for Gen Z? Surely they’re being duped by adverts and feeling pressure to emulate influencers’ seemingly perfect lives? Actually no – luckily, they’re way smarter than us.

According to a report by We Are Social, Gen Z understands the duality of social media way better than we do. They’ve grown up with it after all. How do we know this for sure? Look at the phenomenon of ‘finstas’, (fake Insta profiles), which Gen Z create to share their honest lives to a close circle of friends, in contrast to the edited version that goes on their main Instagram profiles. They’ve mastered the difference between real and fake. But just because they can decipher between the two, it doesn’t that mean that they should have to.

Solution #5: Cut the BS

Gen Z get that most of what we see on social media isn’t real. And we know it too. Maybe we should just cut the bulls**t and start speaking to followers and fans authentically instead?

We’re in the midst of a movement away from the fake, aspirational, perfect influencer. People want to see their real selves reflected in marketing now, not an aspirational version of themselves. Influencers and brands that embrace this new wave of authenticity will be the ones to stick around for the long run.

Like any foray into advertising, influencer marketing has potential downsides. So why do so many brands rave about it? Because they’re doing it properly. According to Neilsen 90% of people trust peer to peer recommendations. And only 33% trust traditional ads. You can’t afford not to try, right?

Some house rules before you start:

 Rule #1 It’s not about how much you pay – it’s about how much you care. If the influencer you want doesn’t know your brand but still wants to work together, think hard about if they’re your kind of business partner.

RULE #2 It’s not just about reach – it’s about authenticity. Rather than chasing the big follower numbers think about discovering up-and-coming influencers who are experts in their fields.

RULE #3 Content that tries to sell doesn’t – but content that tries to help, does. This isn’t about flogging your wares. It’s about using your content (and your contacts) to make your audience’s lives better.

If you’re ready to do an influencer campaign right – minus the BS – just drop us a line at info@seenconnects.com and we’d be happy to chat!