By Tina Wells, CEO and founder of Buzz Marketing Group.
Influencer marketing is a hot topic in marketing right now. Over 70 percent of marketers reported using influencer marketing in their campaigns in 2015, according to data from Adweek, and that number is likely to continue to grow in the years to come.
I've identified three main mistakes brands make when launching influence campaigns here (although I could point to dozens more). As the CEO and founder of an agency that's been focused on millennials and influencers for over 20 years, I've built over 100 campaigns and worked with thousands of influencers.
I believe in the power of the consumer's voice to elevate the buying power of products and services. And when executed correctly, influencer campaigns are important tools that allow emerging brands to play in the big leagues, and powerhouse brands to reconnect with their customers.
Here are the key mistakes you don't want to be making with your influencer marketing this year:
- Not clearly identifying your brand ethos and values. There are influencers for every type of brand, but sometimes brands feel the need to build their campaigns around a well-known blogger or influencer whose values may not necessarily match their own. This is the biggest mistake you can make. Brands like Lululemon have nailed their influencer strategy, partnering with well-known yogis and spiritual gurus like Gabrielle Bernstein. Their influencers always channel the spirit of Lululemon, not the other way around.
- Thinking all influencers are good influencers. Just because an influencer has millions of followers doesn't mean they're a good partner for you. The best influencers have a solid following, with engagement and a passionate community built around their core values (yes, influencers are brands too, and their personal values matter). Before you hire an influencer, check out their last 10 posts and see how engaged their communities were with those posts. Would you want that kind of engagement for your post with this influencer? If it's not a "yes," move on.
- Not defining the end goal from the beginning. This is, by far, my biggest red flag that a campaign is doomed for failure. In this day and age, you are not just "testing" an influencer. No one has a budget to throw at the wall and then pray for success. We like to build our campaigns around the goals of our client: Are they trying to increase sales of a product? Change the brand's image or share of voice? Launch in a new market? Better target moms ages 35 to 55? All influencers are not created equal, so you need to engage with them based on their areas of strength. Think of a category like "mom bloggers," for instance. Are you looking to engage with moms of toddlers? Teenagers? Empty-nesters? This may seem tedious at first, but identifying your goal and then matching influencers to meet a specific goal will put you on the path to success. And it should go without saying that before you begin the campaign, you need to identify third-party tools like Keyhole that will handle measurement for the program. Do not allow the influencer agency to completely control what success looks like.
This year presents the perfect opportunity to get to know a diverse group of influencers. Consider all of the areas you are passionate about, and follow one or two influencers in that niche. Explore creative tools and innovation in their space. It's an exciting time to create influencer campaigns that allow you to better connect with your customers.
Tina Wells is the CEO and founder of Buzz Marketing Group, an agency that serves clients like Dell, Microsoft, OWN, American Eagle Outfitters, and Levo.