Some Advice to Help you Avoid Common Mistakes in the Influencer Industry

There are a few ways that brands can make mistakes when communicating and collaborating with influencers. There are two reasons why this is the case. First, matching your brand story with the influencer’s one is challenging. Secondly, due to the fact that the influencer industry is booming–and everybody’s rushing to get a slice of the cake–anybody can get into business. That “boom” have created an environment where interruption practices have become pretty common. You can also read Why is the Influencer Industry so Challenging?

So if you have been collaborating with influencers before you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. And if you haven’t done one of the things I’ve listed below, hopefully I will help you avoid other potential problems. If you haven’t ever collaborated with influencers before, you may save yourself some pain and suffering by reading the following.

This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, but it will hopefully give you a heads up on some of the most common mistakes you—or agencies in your behalf—make. Here is a list of five things to watch out for:

1. Pick the right influencers

One of the biggest mistakes that I also mentioned in our book is that brands don’t do their homework when it comes to selecting the right influencers. Brands tend to focus on influencers with the number of followers as big as possible. While that might be great, if you start off the wrong foot you’ll get a problematic relationship.

As a brand you’ve got to seek influencers with brand stories that complement yours. Without this step big numbers don’t matter. Lots of agencies when they show their clients why they’ve chosen an influencer, they begin with “this influencer has millions of followers.” Well, that doesn’t matter at a first glance. What does matter is the level of engagement with the audience. It turns out that maybe micro influencers (the ones with 500 to 10.000 followers) generates better results than big influencers. Remember, it’s about generating trust, not just attention. Size is not all that matters.

2. Understand the Influencer Lifetime Value

Sometimes I have the feeling that the influencer industry in terms of payments is like internships. Far too often companies say to interns come work for us for us and when you finish we’ll hire you with a paid gig. But that’s rarely the case. It may turn out that an influencer may be cheap, but that’s a big opportunity costs result of not understanding the Influencer Lifetime Value.

When that happens two scenarios come to mind: Either (a) you don’t see the full value this influencer is going to bring to the table, or (b) you just want that person because it costs you nothing.

The main purpose of hiring an influencer is to solve a problem of trust and attention that this influencer is going to solve for you. Then if this person is giving you valuable attention and sales, you should do the math and see until which point are you willing to pay.

If your objective is to drive the campaign to sales, then you should do the math and measure conversions so you know where to limit your budget. And this is why it’s interesting to pay influencers by commission. You can pay a fixed price but give them the opportunity to gain more depending the sales you make.

On the other hand if the influencer if paying you back with attention, then you get to decide how valuable is the attention you are getting, and how likely it is to convert into trust.

You might be thinking now, what if I’m dealing with lots of micro influencers, should I pay them all? Sometimes is okay to not pay directly. If you’re dealing with them, and you don’t have lots of resources, how about paying them by commission? Pay them based on results. Then everybody wins here. Maybe you can give the influencer a discount code for their followers, and you can track that. And they’ll be thankful for allowing them to make money while other companies just want them because they’re free.

Alas, lots of agencies just want to make their clients happy so they focus on short-term thinking–which leads to expensive attention that never converts into trust and/or sales. Either way, find the real value of your collaboration with the influencer, and pay well if it’s valuable for you.

3. Organize properly your campaigns

Whether you’re working with an agency or not, setting the results you want and designing a campaign that allows you to follow it up is key to get the results you seek and make it smooth.

First off, you need to measure properly—and by that I don’t mean measuring the clicks/views on their way to results. I mean measuring results. Otherwise you’d end up measuring attention. Attention is great, but unless you measure trust and contributions you won’t get want you want. Read more about this here.

Then, once you’ve set the results you seek, you start creating a calendar, define influencer responsibilities, deadlines, goals, follow-ups… All the basic stuff. Then you continue it from there.

I know, it’s super obvious but it’s often overlooked.

4. Communication is critical

Having a good communication system with influencers (and agencies) is critical if you want things to work.

The problem with agencies (specially with talent agencies) is that you don’t get to talk to influencers directly. And that’s a big issue.

It’s important to have direct communication with influencers—even if you have an agency that manages the campaign. Then you can understand each other, and make the influencer feel a part of your brand. The thing is that when you don’t get to talk to them, there’s a high risk that they don’t understand your values and for that matter, your brand story. Communicating directly with them is also good even when they stop working with you, they’ll be glad to recommend you because you’ve made a valuable connection.

You can keep talking each other afterwards. That’s how relationships work, right? It’s a relationship not a one-off sale.

Find ways to get in touch with them directly.

5. Trust, but verify

Just like in any sort of relationship trust is necessary. Nonetheless that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t verify that the work is being done. You should. Companies while dealing directly with influencers tend to verify everything (something that takes a lot of time). On the other hand, while working with and trusting agencies, brands often leave them the whole process. Here it’s your call, but you better verify that the work is being done from both sides, in the way you want it to be done.

As I said before, this is not a comprehensive list, but hopefully after having invested a few minutes of your time, you are now better equipped to manage influencer campaigns.

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