Influencer Agency Guides

5 Key Influencer Marketing Mistakes to Avoid for Successful Campaigns

May 21, 2024 | By Chris Jacks

When influencer marketing works, it really works. You’re connecting with new leads, cementing relationships with existing customers, and saving a whole load of money on your marketing budget. But when it doesn’t work… well, you get the picture.

Influencer marketing mistakes can derail even the best campaigns. To ensure your efforts lead to successful influencer campaigns, it’s essential to recognize and avoid common pitfalls.

Doing it the right way is all about confronting these mistakes head-on. Once you know what you need to avoid, you can steer your campaign in a positive direction and reap all those lovely benefits of influencer marketing. 

Let’s take a look at five of the key influencer marketing mistakes, and discover how to avoid them successfully.

Avoid These Common Influencer Marketing Mistakes

Key Mistake #1 – Insulting Your Customers

Tarte Cosmetics thought they had had the whole influencing formula down. 

  • A stunning location – check.
  • A set of YOLO experiences – check.
  • A collection of good-looking influencers living the social media dream – check.

So, when Tarte launched their Trippin’ With Tarte campaign on the tropical island of Bora Bora in the South Pacific, what could possibly go wrong?

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Well, as it turned out, quite a lot. Tarte and their crew of influencers got the tone so wrong that YOLO swiftly turned into FOMO, which then turned into downright disgust. Customers, it transpired, didn’t feel particularly engaged by a bunch of influencers living it up on an all-expenses-paid trip to a tropical resort. 

At a time when many Americans were existing on a paycheck-to-paycheck basis (around 65% still are), Tarte’s tone-deaf campaign struck all the wrong chords with their intended audience. And when some of Tarte’s influencers began using Fergie’s Glamorous as the audio accompaniment to their videos – the “if you ain’t got no money take your broke a** home” track – the damage was done, big time.

How to Avoid Insulting Your Customers in Influencer Marketing

A little consideration goes a long way here. Taking the time to get to know your audience will help you avoid this kind of tone-deaf campaign. If you’re marketing to billionaires, then sure, hire that private jet for your influencers. If you’re not – and most brands won’t be – then don’t.

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Tips for Maintaining Audience Respect

  • Spend time honing your buyer profiles, understanding their pain points and identifying what they want to see.
  • Get outside eyes on your campaign plan, with focus groups who can help you understand the tone.
  • Ditch any overly corporate or sales-y messaging, as it just won’t resonate with most customers.

Key Mistake #2 – Missing Out on the Value of Creators

When Miri the Siren started posting videos of the employee lunch she received at Chick-fil-A back in January, she probably wasn’t aware of the storm that was about to break. By April, Miri was in trouble with her bosses at head office. Her meal review videos, corporate said, were against company policy, and she’d have to stop.

Miri, with around 132,000 TikTok followers and 4.1 million likes on the platform, was well aware of her own value. She chose to take her creative talents elsewhere. And Chick-fil-A realized they’d really dropped the ball here.

Within weeks of this cease and desist, Miri was working with Shake Shack and El Pollo Loco. While Chick-fil-A had squandered a free publicity opportunity that landed right in their lap, these competitors were paying good money to work with Miri. The brand had nurtured a homegrown marketing talent, and delivered her right into the hands of their competitors.

It’s unclear whether or not Miri is still working with Chick-fil-A as a restaurant employee. What is clear, however, is that her video collabs with Chick-fil-A competitors are ongoing, so it might be a little awkward if she’s still serving up Cool Wraps and Spicy Deluxes on the side. The lesson here seems to be to recognize the value of organic influencers before the competition does.

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How to Avoid Missing Out on the Value of Creators in Influencer Marketing

Some brands have been a little skeptical of influencers in the past, but most are now waking up to the potential of this marketing channel – in fact, the global influencer industry tripled in value between 2019 and 2023! Chick-fil-A’s tale of woe shows us how important it is to move with the times. Businesses really need to be alive to the potential of real brand ambassadors and take genuine social opportunities seriously.

Tips for Recognizing and Valuing Influencers

  • Recognize the power of organic brand ambassadors, people who genuinely love your products.
  • Consider working with micro-influencers and brand ambassadors, prioritizing this sincere love for the product over follower figures.
  • Rethink your corporate policy, and make sure this is not stifling any positive brand exposure on social media. 

Key Mistake #3 – Not Connecting with Influencers

One of the biggest misconceptions about influencer marketing is how easy it is. You find someone with great social media reach, you strike a deal, and you tell them what to say and what to post. It’s as simple as that. Except sometimes, it doesn’t go to plan.

When Adidas reached out to their supermodel partner Naomi Campbell and said “Naomi, so nice to see you in good spirits! Could you put something like ‘Thanks to my friend @gary.aspden and all at Adidas – loving these Adidas SPZL…'” she did as requested. She posted a pic of the sneakers, and the message… all of the message

This is an extreme example, of course. With micro-influencing on the rise and the fact that many brands compensate influencers with free samples rather than a huge paycheck, most businesses aren’t working with Naomi Campbell. But it does demonstrate some of the dangers involved with a lazy approach to influencer marketing.

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How to Avoid Not Connecting with Influencers in Marketing

When influencers don’t engage with the product and the brand, when communication is poor, or when the whole campaign is just a little lazy, the outcomes aren’t good. In fact, the campaign tends to backfire. This really underlines why building real connections between your brand and your influencers is so important. That’s why it’s called a partnership, after all.

Tips for Building Genuine Influencer Partnerships

  • Work closely with your influencer partner – don’t just knock up an email on the fly and consider it job done.
  • Plan your campaign together with your creative partner, giving them the freedom to put their own authentic spin on the messaging while aligning with your brand identity.
  • Build long-lasting relationships with the right kind of influencer, people you can rely on.

Key Mistake #4 – Creating Hollow Messaging

The debate over fast fashion has been raging for quite a while. Plenty love this industry – it makes great-looking clothes affordable and accessible for people from a range of different backgrounds, and it challenges the “exclusive” dominance of eye-wateringly expensive high-end brands.

But plenty don’t love it. The elephant in the room here is sustainability. There is still a cost to manufacturing cheap clothes designed to be worn a few times and then thrown away. It’s a cost borne by the planet, as waste piles up and valuable resources are siphoned into the production process.

There’s still a place for fast fashion in the retail landscape, but brands need to address this sustainability issue. And by address, we mean “sincerely address,” not just pay lip service to it.

Shein is among the leading fast fashion brands right now, so they are celebrated and under fire in almost equal measure. When they launched an influencer marketing campaign in 2023, the idea was to shift the needle in the right direction, but the result was a little different.

The company partnered with a number of different influencers, who created sponsored videos as they toured Shein’s production facility in Spain. Rather than speaking off-the-cuff, it appeared the influencers were reading a prepared script, reeling off a list of corporate-approved factors that make Shein a beacon for fashion sustainability.

Social media users are smart and savvy. They saw through the attempt at greenwashing, casting doubt on the claims made in the script and even calling out blatant “lies.” And as for the influencers themselves, many were accused of checking their values at the door and selling themselves out for a fast buck.

How to Avoid Creating Hollow Messaging in Influencer Marketing

Eco-sustainability, a social conscience, a desire to do things better – these are all important branding aspects. It’s elements like these that make customers say, “Hey, this is something I want to be on board with.” But there’s got to be more to it than this. Businesses have to actually mean what they say, and they need to back it up with action.

Hiring Kendall Jenner to put a Pepsi in the hand of a police officer at a staged protest, in a vague expression of social harmony and togetherness, probably isn’t going to cut it.

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Tips for Crafting Sincere and Authentic Campaigns

  • Live your brand values – if you’re campaigning on sustainability, make sure your practices are sustainable.
  • Put sincerity at the heart of your messaging, or your audience will see right through it.
  • Consider organic partnerships with people who already love and advocate for your brand.

Key Mistake #5 – Falling Short of the Legal and Regulatory Marks

Valerie Agyeman is not only an influencer. She’s a Registered Dietary Nutritionist and a respected host of a popular women’s health and well-being podcast. This makes her the perfect choice for food and fitness brands seeking to connect with their audiences in a profound way.

But, while Valerie’s intentions were undoubtedly good, she found herself warned by the Federal Trade Commission after failing to disclose the relationships she had with the brands she was promoting. There’s nothing to suggest Valerie was not sincere in her promotions – and she certainly wasn’t the only influencer to receive this kind of warning from the FTC – but it does show how easy it is to fall short of the regulatory mark.

Influencers need to inform their followers that they are promoting a product. By including tags such as “#ad” or “Paid Promotion,” they are informing the audience of exactly what is going on here. They can still be sincere in their promotions – in fact, they should be sincere in their promotions – but they need to make the relationship clear. If not, the FTC will come down hard on both brand and influencer.

Now, most customers don’t make a habit of reading FTC press releases on a regular basis, so many won’t even know there’s been an infringement. On the public relations front, brands might just get away with their reputations intact. On a legal front, however, they won’t get away with it, and they run the risk of getting shut down.

How to Avoid Falling Short of the Legal and Regulatory Marks in Influencer Marketing

All businesses are bound by regulations, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that influencer marketing comes with its own set of do’s and don’ts. Brands need to be aware of these regulations and make sure they are checking all the boxes. This might make influencer marketing a little more time-consuming and labor-intensive, but it’s better than having your campaign pulled by the FTC.

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Tips for Ensuring Compliance in Influencer Campaigns

  • Make sure you’re reviewing the FTC’s guidelines on a regular basis, and making changes as required.
  • Don’t assume your influencer partners are putting those tags in themselves – check to make sure.
  • Be extra careful when it comes to high-stakes markets, like health and fitness, dietary supplements, fintech products, or anything that could seriously impact your customers’ well-being.

Choose HireInfluence and Make Sure Your Next Influencer Campaign Is On Point

You might have noticed a common thread here. Authenticity, sincerity, transparency – this is what your audience is looking for, and this is what your campaign needs to deliver.Looking for guidance and support as you nail your next influencer marketing campaign? Reach out to our team today and discover how our customized campaigns can help you smash your targets.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chris Jacks is an influencer marketing professional with over a decade of experience in the digital marketing sphere. As the Director of Growth Strategy, Chris oversees and drives strategic initiatives to fuel business expansion. With a keen eye for market trends and opportunities, Chris develops comprehensive growth plans and aligns business objectives across cross-functional teams. With a strong focus on crafting impactful, ROI-driven influencer campaigns across multiple sectors, Chris utilizes his expertise to enhance market positioning and maximize results.

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