influencer marketingInfluencer marketing is rapidly becoming one of the most favored and effective strategies among marketers who believe in creating a strong brand.

A study by Influencer Central revealed that 81 percent of consumers prefer to make a purchase based on influencer reviews.

Another study by AdWeek stated that 94 percent of marketers using influencer marketing consider it to be highly effective.

Companies spent an estimated $570 million on sponsored Instagram posts alone in 2016 and estimates put it north of $1 billion in 2017.

That’s a lot of money brands are allocating for influencer marketing.

These findings make it easy to see why we are embracing influencer marketing.

But there is still plenty of room for growth.

Money Spent on Influencer Marketing is Being Wasted

Influencer marketing accounted for less than 1.5 percent of the $72 billion U.S. digital ad spend in 2017.

However, the majority of money spent on influencer marketing is being wasted, for the simple reason that influencers are being paid for “influence.”

However, it’s Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube that determine an influencer’s true reach.

And guess what?

They would rather show people ads (or pictures of puppies and babies).

And organic reach has been on the steady decline. Take a look at this data from Lumanu:

influencer marketing
Image courtesy of Lumanu

Brands are paying BIG money for content creation, and for a small fraction of an influencer’s followers to see said content.

Lumanu analyzed more than 50,000 consumer-focused branded influencer posts.

These posts came from accounts with more than 25,000 followers during the past six months.

The typical Facebook Page post reaches about three to eight percent of their audience. Instagram is higher, at 15 to 25 percent.

Twenty-five percent is only a fraction of the reach for which brands pay top dollar.

At present, a lot of content is published on these social media platforms.

However, algorithms running Facebook and Instagram explain that much of the content published isn’t quite relevant to users.

And that includes the post on which you just spent a bunch of money.

Fake Influencers = Influencer Marketing Fraud

Another problem associated with influencer marketing is fraud.

And with the amount of money we’re talking about comes the risk of fraud.

Sure, splashy headlines proclaim how lucrative the influencer marketing industry is.

In turn, this attracts many wannabe influencers hoping to score hefty paychecks from brands.

There is a whole industry of fake influencer profiles who buy paid followers for themselves to look more impressive.

The wrong influencers will result in wasted money and energy.

And choosing the wrong influencer (or the wrong social platform) puts you in front of the wrong audience.

It is a wasted opportunity to connect with a good audience.

Many campaigns may show initial promise—with great reach, engagement, and comments like, “I love that! I need one!”—but underwhelm when it comes to conversions.

I am a big fan of working with specialized influencer marketing agencies which have experience and deep relationships with influencers.

These agencies have data showing past performance on branded collaborations.

The other option? Require potential influencers to provide references.

Who have you worked with before? What were the results?

Influencer Marketing Done Right

Ensure the efforts you put into influencer marketing reach the right audience.

Employing the right influencers and building a campaign that succeeds is hard work, and is where most brands stop.

Here are five tips to ensure the content you invest in reaches your intended audience. 

Invest to Amplify Your Influencer Content

Don’t rely on organic reach alone to reach your audience. Use multiple touchpoints to drive traffic from several sources.

For example, if your influencer is creating a blog post, don’t just publish the post and then let it go from there.

Create a Facebook post to drive traffic. And for even more results, promote the post to get in front of more target customers.

Facebook allows brands to boost partner posts, so take advantage of this opportunity.

Facebook advertising CPMs are much lower than a typical influencer collaboration (which includes high-quality content as the output).

The sweet spot is working with your influencers so they promote content to more of their audience—who are already familiar with and interested in seeing more content.

Measure Results Beyond Social Engagement

Views and “comments” are nice, but they don’t pay the bills.

At a minimum include UTM parameters, links, or anything allowing you to track full funnel analytics.

I love using audience data when dealing with social influencers because behavior is measured based on views, not clicks.

Establish Longer-Term Influencer Relationships

From an ROI perspective, this provides multiple touch points for your audience.

It also creates a message that’s more authentic and sincere.

Longer-term engagements can turn the social “I love and want to buy” comments into actual conversions.

Include Your Performance Marketer

Social media and performance marketing teams don’t always agree on metrics or what success means.

This makes it difficult to set goals and determine what’s working and what isn’t.

Sometimes this is difficult to rectify in larger organizations, and politics may get in the way.

If that’s the case, invite the disagreeing parties for coffee and a discussion.

Create Goals Beyond Views and Clicks

Influencer marketing is a brilliant way to showcase your brand’s success to stakeholders.

Start by creating goals based on engagement, reach, conversions, downstream audiences, and inbound leads for retargeting.

It’s easier to reach your goals when you include both social media and performance marketing in the conversation.

Besides, scrutiny of the influencer marketing space is only going to increase in the future.

As this space matures, brands will become smarter, more sophisticated, and will start demanding results.

Fake influencers will fall out of consideration.

And with them will go the influencer networks and agencies which only focus on social vanity metrics.

Influencer marketing is in an exciting phase.

Eventually, it will morph into “traditional” ad channels with full transparency into funnel metrics.

Advertising dollars will continue to funnel in as influencer marketing becomes a truly complimentary piece in the marketing mix.

But your campaign will only be successful if you run it correctly.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common influencer marketing mistakes.

No Defined Goals for Your Influencer Marketing Campaign

Marketing solely has one goal, increased ROI.

So every marketing campaign must set a goal to understand what they need to achieve from the campaign.

A common mistake marketers make is launching an influencer marketing campaign without setting a specific goal for it.

If your influencer does not understand what the campaign needs to achieve, they (and you) will be unsuccessful in measuring its performance.

You won’t be able to tell if the campaign was successful or not. It also means not being able to calculate ROI.

This is because you do not have the required metrics to measure the campaign’s performance.

Before creating a marketing campaign, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are my expectations from the campaign?
  • Do I want to increase brand awareness?
  • Or boost sales through the campaign?

Once you have an idea of the goals you wish to achieve in your campaign, you can define your KPIs.

Not Using SMART Methodology to Define KPIs

I suggest using the SMART methodology to define your KPIs.

SMART is a mnemonic methodology which stands for:

  • Specific – well-defined guidelines on what you wish to achieve in the campaign.
  • Measurable – the ability to track or measure progress while working to reach your goal(s).
  • Achievable – goal(s) you wish to achieve in the campaign.
  • Relevant – having a realistic approach using resources at hand.
  • Timeline – The amount of time you have or need to achieve your goal(s).

Using the SMART methodology, you can easily define goals for your influencer marketing campaign.

Below are some common KPIs from TapInfluence:

influencer marketing
Image courtesy of TapInfluence

Selecting the Wrong Compensation Model

Choosing the correct compensation model will help you reach your influencer marketing goals.

But selecting the wrong one can cause serious damage to your campaign and your company.

For example, you may end up paying for something that you can get for free.

There are times when brands pay for a post only to see it fail miserably.

Other times, clients agree to pay-per-click and end up paying more than they budgeted because the influencer drives more clicks than expected.

A study by Tapinfluence and Altimeter stated that more than 72 percent of influencers are not provided sufficient compensation by brands.

And that is a big mistake.

This explains why marketers face a challenge in determining the type and amount of compensation they should provide influencers.

To avoid this mistake, marketers need to analyze goals and requirements of the campaign before approaching an influencer.

Most Common Influencer Marketing Compensation Models

1. Pay-Per-Cost: The most commonly used compensation model for influencer marketing. It is the flat rate you pay to influencers when they create and publish contentt for your brand.

2. Cost-Per-Click: A certain amount paid to the influencer based on the number of people who take action after seeing their post. The action taken is clicking on the link the influencer provides and landing on the brand’s homepage.

3. Cost Per Engagement: You pay the influencer an agreed amount based on the level of engagement they can drive.

4. Free Products or Experiences: You provide free products, services, or gifts to the influencer instead of financial compensation.

 5. Cost-Per-Acquisition: You offer compensation in exchange for the number of sales or engagements they drive. This is among the least used compensation methods.

Overlooking the Caliber of Competitive Analysis

You can learn a lot from analyzing your competitors, especially regarding their influencer marketing strategies.

Study the posts of an influencer who is collaborating with a competitor and analyze their partnership.

You’ll be able to see the influencer marketing trends they use successfully, which enables you to incorporate them into your campaign.

Competitive analysis will also help you choose the right compensation model for best results.

Failure to Maintain Transparency

One of the biggest mistakes brands make is not disclosing their partnership with influencers in their campaigns.

Some brands even discourage influencers from disclosing their partnership.

Consequently, what they do not realize is they are violating Federal Trade Commission guidelines.

This may lead to serious lawsuits and subject your company to hefty fines.

Here are tips brands can use to ensure transparency:

  • Always advise influencers to use “#ad” for sponsored content.
  • Coordinate with influencers to ensure everyone can see full disclosure, regardless which device they are using.
  • Additionally, make sure the disclosure is visible and does not blend into the background.
  • Most noteworthy, if your influencer uses a video platform such as YouTube or Vimeo, make sure the disclosure is on screen long enough for viewers to notice it.
  • Finally, advise influencers to communicate sponsorships clearly in the content they create.

Influencer Marketing Can Be Easy

Creating a successful influencer marketing campaign is easy if you understand your audience, and turn to analytics for guidance.

Not only will this be cost-effective, but it also will lead to higher ROI.

Make sure you properly brief your influencers and think carefully about the steps you want your target audience to take.

And keep in mind that influencer marketing takes time to bear fruit.

Having an effective strategy can highly impact the fundamentals if created properly.

You need to set definite goals, select the right compensation plan, and choose the right influencer for your campaign.

Shane Barker

Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, product launches, sales funnels, targeted traffic and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.

View all posts by Shane Barker