Deciding to create and implement an influencer campaign for your client is a great thing — right up until you make one or more of these all-too-common mistakes.
I have a unique vantage point when it comes to these campaigns because I’ve been on both sides — the influencer who is pitched and the PR guy doing the pitching. Ask PR people about bloggers and you’ll get stories of divas who vastly overestimate their worth and make unreasonable demands. Conversely, mentioning PR folks to bloggers will often end with horror stories of micromanagers, a reliance on unreliable metrics and forms of payment that include everything but actual pay.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
It is entirely possible for influencers and PR folks to live in blissful harmony, creating branded content that resonates with the writer’s audience while also creating buzz for the client and driving sales/lead generation/brand awareness. The trick is avoiding these five main pitfalls:
5. Mailing in Your Pitch
Look, I get it. You need influencers for your campaign, the client wants them yesterday, and mass emails are by far the fastest way to reach people and gauge interest. But mailing in a pitch and creating a horrible first impression is the quickest way to alienate potential brand ambassadors. First of all, make sure you get their names and affiliations correct. I can’t tell you how many PR people have pitched me using the wrong name and site, or started emails off with “Hello mom” while trying to talk me into a campaign about the latest bra I just HAVE to try. And while I have put on a few pounds and could, quite frankly, use the support, I refuse to work with people who couldn’t even be bothered to figure out my sex. So do yourself a favor and do a little research. Read the latest piece of content and talk about it in your pitch so they know you’re paying attention. Personalization takes a few minutes longer, but that extra bit of personal attention goes a long way when building these relationships.
4. Failing to Work WITH Them
I knew of a national campaign with a bunch of other dads for a big time brand and while the company’s idea was good, the hashtag and messaging they wanted to use was a flop. It felt forced and if the dad influencers had to use it, they all agreed it would be something that gets mentioned once and never again because it didn’t fit their brands. They brought up these concerns and the company listened, and ultimately changed it after a quick brainstorm. The campaign turned out to be a huge success, thanks largely to the influencers feeling involved and part of the process. That equaled more shares, organic engagement, and genuine enthusiasm from the people taking part.
3. Focusing on the Wrong Metrics
Pageviews, UMV, and number of followers are all important — but they’re not the end all be all. I’ve seen influencers with hundreds of thousands of Facebook likes and Twitter followers, but barely any engagement on the things they post. Beware influencers who have purchased followers and have little to no organic interaction on their posts. Instead, I’ll take the people with fewer Facebook fans who have off the charts engagement and tons of comments and likes when they issue calls to action. It’s tough to get clients to see past the follower count, but I’ve found engagement and quality content are the biggest drivers of a successful influencer campaign.
2. Lack of Trust
The influencers you’re hiring have the talent and the built-in audience, so let them create. Sure it’s good to talk about things like specific messaging, links that need to be included, and overall tone, but once you start forcing them to copy and paste large swaths of text and policing their copy, pictures, and videos, you’re hurting your own cause. They know their audience and you hired them for a reason, so trust them with a wide berth. They’re much more likely to come up with something great if you’re not riding them, questioning their every move, and forcing things on them they know their audience will reject.
1. Not Paying Them
I can’t stress this enough — pay your influencers. Too many companies think a “content for exposure” deal is perfectly acceptable, but it’s not. Branded content is a form of advertising, and if you want to leverage a valuable audience and take up space on someone else’s website and social media accounts, you need to show them you’re serious by taking them seriously — with actual payment for services. It is possible for some companies to pay influencers with experiences (tickets to athletic events, vacations, free hotel stays, celebrity meet and greets, etc), but make sure the people you’re approaching value those experiences before you offer. But if you’re not in a position to offer those things, offering monetary payment affords you good will and generally attracts a higher caliber influencer. You get what you pay for.
At Belfort Group, we take pride in our influencer campaigns and we’ve had great success because of it. If you’d like to learn more, check out our case studies.