Three influencer marketing mistakes to avoid

Three influencer marketing mistakes to avoid

Death threats over mouthwash. Not words we’d expected to hear in the world of influencer marketing - but the industry is full of surprises.

This month, a paid promotion between Johnson & Johnson and London-based influencer Scarlett Dixon (aka Scarlett London) went viral for its overly staged nature.

From the balloon-clad bed to the plate of tortilla wraps posing as ‘pancakes’, the sponsored image was accused of giving a false reality to make us feel inadequate (and buy Listerine).

While this is pretty much advertising to a tee (right?), it didn’t stop the barrage of insults and death threats to the influencer rolling in.

With the dust from the social media storm just about settled, it seems like a good time to focus on the best influencer practices to avoid going viral for all the wrong reasons. Make sure you steer clear of these slip-ups.

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  • Ignoring endorsement rules

    Ignoring endorsement rules logo

    No longer can brands and influencers share a sponsored or paid post without flagging it so. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) even launched a review into whether popular legal indicators like #spon, #ad and #sp are obvious enough this year.

    Financial agreements may be obvious to those within the industry, but to the average blog reader or social media user they aren’t.

    The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an investigation into the disclosure of brand deals, writing to a number of social stars about the problem.

    Failing to flag a sponsored post as paid is not only taking advantage of impressionable consumers and damaging your brand reputation, if you’re caught breaking consumer protection law, the government body can take enforcement action.

  • Working with influencers who buy followers

    Working with influencers who buy followers logo

    Another issue to hit the world of marketing in the past few months is ‘influencer fraud’. Unilever in particular has taken steps to improve the integrity and transparency of its partnerships.

    The beauty brand won’t work with influencerees who buy followers and will be putting influencers with optimum transparency at the top of their partner lists. The brand’s top marketer Keith Weed told The Drum:

    “The key to improving the situation is three-fold: cleaning up the influencer ecosystem by removing misleading engagement; making brands and influencers more aware of the use of dishonest practices; and improving transparency from social platforms to help brands measure impact. We need to take urgent action now to rebuild trust before it’s gone forever.”

    Raising awareness

    Since Keith Weed highlighted this fraudulent behaviour, L’oreal has introduced influencer ‘background checks’ into its marketing vetting process.

    In order to build ultimate authenticity, the brand almost exclusively works with ‘micro-influencers’ (those with followings around the 10K mark).

    Its process involves weeding out fakes (such as those with a sudden surge in followers), seeing which other brands the influencer has worked with, the kind of content they post, then finally paying a third-party company to conduct a thorough background check before contracts are signed.

  • Focussing on follower numbers

    Focussing on follower numbers logo

    Yes, they’re important. But follower counts aren’t everything. A recent study by Rakuten Marketing  found that marketers would pay a whopping £75,000 for one single sponsored post by an influencer with over one million followers.

    Yet the true success of your campaigns lies on finding the perfect influencer for the job - and they don’t necessarily need to be a million-follower diamond. Micro-influencers can often give brands a higher engagement rate, with more authentic content and a more trusting audience base (read our guide to building a local following for more on this).

    It pays to be trusted by a few hundred users than overlooked by thousands - or worse, be sent down a social storm of death threats over mouthwash.

Staff Writer