The Home Truth’s of Influencer Marketing

October 4th, 2018 by

Let’s lay down the truth once more…

As a concept, influencer marketing is easy to grasp but to put theory into practice takes knowledge, experience and a particular set of skills. In our day and age people have become practically immune to traditional marketing and most people despise being sold to. People have become savvy and are aware of the world around them. People don’t care about brands. They care about their lives, families and interests and if a brand can add value and enrich their lives then people will listen. Influencer marketing therefore isn’t easy, even if you have the theory nailed. Some would even call it “a major challenge”. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it right, but we see a hell of a lot of people doing it wrong. And as is no secret; sometimes a great start in getting something totally right, is by not doing it totally wrong. With that in mind our top 5 Influencer Marketing DONT’S!

Below, for your perusal!

1. Large followings do not automatically equal high engagement

Too many brands believe that Influencer Marketing is about paying somebody with millions of fans or followers to endorse a product or service and they often forget to consider the audience, blinded by the numbers. In order to leverage influencer marketing to effectively build a brand it is about engaging the right people. It is more effective to invite 5 of your friends to come on a road trip with you than it is to shout “I am going on holiday” from a rooftop. Your friends will care, and may even join you. Strangers won’t, but if you are lucky they will think you are crazy, and at least you got their attention. The point is that influencer marketing is much like “word of mouth” but amplified through technology. But before you go after scale it’s about ensuring that you are speaking to the right people. The influencer that is right for your message may not necessarily sit within your target demographic. The most important thing to consider is whether or not they have your target audience’s attention.

Data also shows that influencers with smaller numbers of followers often have more engaged followers because a lot of them still CARE.

They are the ones responding to comments and keeping a dialogue open. They create content that their followers truly love and still have the time to interact with them on a much more intimate level. Social media stars are followed by numerous people for a number of reasons but not all of their followers are actually engaged with the content and may not be the right people you are trying to target. Don’t let the numbers fool you. Before you spend money on scale, think exactly about what you are trying to achieve and who you are trying to target.

2. Being overly prescriptive with creative

By definition influencers are influential because a large number of people appreciate their content. Then a brand comes along and wants to tap into that audience but doesn’t feel comfortable giving the influencer creative freedom. Sure, brands have guidelines to follow and an image to uphold. But micromanaging an influencer is never a good idea, for a number of reasons. First and foremost, if the content that the influencer produces isn’t in alignment with a brand’s image or guidelines then the match isn’t good. Second, the influencer’s audience is used to a certain style of content so if it’s suddenly different it will stick out, but not in a good way. People don’t want to be told what to watch. They decide. And if they show up expecting to see content that they like and it suddenly differs they will not be happy. This is bad for everybody involved. The audience for not getting their value, the influencer through an annoyed audience, and ultimately the brand pays the price.

Brands need to spend more time building relationships with influential brand ambassadors and less time micromanaging their creative output.


A controversial reality, but we see it happening all the time. Brands being promised high engagement rates but are unaware of the mechanics in achieving these. Amplifying content through the back and forth sending between a number of social media accounts with large follower bases doesn’t automatically equate to real engagement. It may look like things are buzzing but what proportion is buzz and what proportion is just noise? Really, this tactic often over promises and underdelivers and yet we see brands going for it because they are blinded by focusing on the wrong numbers. Of course data helps guide decisions.

But again, don’t be fooled that large followings, volume and scale are what makes campaigns effective.

4. Having a bad product or service

When done right, influencer marketing creates win – win situations. If done right, brands will reach the right people, who will be interested in not only the content but also see relevance in their lives for a brand’s product or service. The influencer wins because their audience is happy as they don’t feel like they are being pressured to make a purchase and the whole conversation changes to being introduced to something that somebody they trust can vouch for. Endorsing a weak proposition doesn’t create win win situations.

How can you vouch for, or be excited by a bad product or service? You can’t.

It has to be authentic to be effective. If you try to fake it, an audience will pick up on it very quickly, and it’s a bad day when they do. Strive for the win-win, stay authentic or leave it.

5. Neglecting Value

Time is money. We all know this. But focusing too hard on profit can actually be counter productive. There are ways a brand can add value to a person’s life that goes far beyond making a sale. We get asked to boost downloads, sales, subscriptions through our campaigns and while this can certainly be achieved, shifting your entire focus on it, isn’t necessarily the best way forward. Instead focus on the “why”.

Why should anybody care, why you exist?

And if your message is powerful, interesting and engaging it will as a matter of consequence lead to more downloads, sales, subscriptions. It’s about reverse engineering the outcome and giving people something that they value first. The choice will be on their terms. They will choose value. Every. Single. Time!

Influencer marketing is more than just a trend, a fad a new buzz word. It’s extremely effective because it’s about long term relationships, transparency and authenticity. It’s about the win-win.

Our Influencer marketing agency and Social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USA, UK, UAE and China.

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