From zombie followers to looming FTC requirements, as influencer marketing becomes a more integral pillar in your marketing strategy, avoid being haunted by common mistakes with these three key tactics.
Beware of Choosing Influencers with Ghosts as Followers
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when working with influencers is focusing solely on the size of their following. Big numbers seem bright and shiny on the surface, but what lurks below may be legions of fake followers. Throughout the years, up-and-coming influencers gave into the pressure of audience size and bought followers in hopes of getting in front of brands’ eyes. This practice tricked marketers into thinking they were getting a vast reach, when in reality their message was only being presented to an audience of phantoms.
Well, the jig is up.
We evaluate influencers based on a mix of analytics and human factors. For the analytics, we partnered with Points North Group, the creators of Instascreener. This software looks for patterns in influencers’ followers, comments, and engagements that reveal the presence of bots. For example, it detects if an influencer has a suspiciously high jump in follower count, if an inordinate number of comments on their posts are in a foreign language, or if the same follower leaves the same comment (e.g. “Sooooo cute!”) on many of their posts. These are all indicators of having purchased followers, and Instascreener even quantifies the percentage of an audience that’s likely to be fake.
Influencer marketing is built on relationships and trust, which is why we would never rely solely on a software to vet or source influencers. In addition to putting influencers through Instascreener, every account manager on our team physically looks through an influencer’s content and social channels to double vet them and make sure they are not only real, but relevant to our client’s needs.
Avoid Trick-or-treating Influencers like a Paid Media Buy
Something we often remind brands of is that influencers have followers for a reason: people identify with their content. Influencers are not an ad buy you can turn on and off, and they’re not meant to simply regurgitate your brand’s messaging. Consumer trust in traditional media is at an all-time low, but the power of influencer’s word-of-mouth endorsements carries weight, because their audience is already receptive to their message.
When a brand or agency outlines very strict and prescribed talking points for influencers, it stifles their creativity and is ultimately reflected in their content. For their message to be authentic, it’s critical to give the influencer room to use the voice they’ve already proven works with their followers.
Instead of thinking of influencers as just a plug-and-play component of your marketing strategy, think of them as partners with an affinity for your brand. While we do love tracking the web traffic influencers drive and correlating that with ROI and sales, that’s just one piece of the puzzle. They are a touch point in the long and complex buyer journey and keep your brand top of mind when consumers are ready to make a purchase.
Partnering with influencers who are natural advocates for your brand will give an extra human touch to your digital presence.
Prevent FTC Disclosures From Getting Buried 6 Feet Under
Not requiring influencers to disclose that you’ve compensated them can ultimately lead to dreadful consequences for your brand, like fees from the FTC and perhaps worse, bad press. Hiring an agency to monitor for FTC disclosure requirements on your behalf will help prevent this (shameless plug: Everyone at Everywhere is FTC trained, so we’ve got you covered on that!).
Additionally, having a contract with an influencer will give you more control over whether or not they will abide by FTC regulations. Sending an influencer a product and asking them to post about it on their social media doesn’t give you the contractual control you need to have them disclose properly with a paper trail to illustrate that you’ve set requirements to disclose their relationship with you. Everywhere exclusively does contracted campaigns with influencers, as this gives us leverage over what we can require of an influencer, so we can protect our brands from any backlash. If influencers don’t meet their campaign requirements, we withhold payment.
When embarking on an influencer campaign, there’s no need to be afraid. Just remember to monitor for ghostly followers and FTC guidelines – and don’t spook influencers (and their audience) with guidelines that are too strict. You’ll end up making a killing with a list of influencers who are just dying to work with you!