And What You Should Do Instead 

By Jenna Dobkin

Scroll through Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube, and it won’t be long before you find a half-hearted endorsement from skeptical pundit waxing long about his contrived experiences.  It should come as no surprise to learn influencer marketing collaborations like these come at a high price and fail to deliver on a sponsor’s lofty aspirations.

Based on my experiences working with dozens of B2B and B2C companies, as well as the collective experiences of my esteemed peers, here are 6 newbie mistakes you need to avoid at all costs, and what you should do, instead.

1. Don’t Start Before You Put Pen to Paper

It’s not uncommon for a newbie to leap before they look. Neurogym‘s Marketing Director Kris Palouda explains: ”I’ve seen this time and time again. We have the best intentions and we know what we should be doing, but when the plan isn’t in writing, steps get missed. We have had that happen with our social campaign when we were without a social media manager. One piece would go out, but it didn’t have the support of the other social channels.” Kris has seen measurable consequences as a result.

Do:  Take the time to write the plan and operate to it, even if it’s just a quick checklist in Google sheets.  

2. Don’t Assume Your Sales Team Cares About Campaign Reach.  (They Don’t)

In order for your influencer campaign to be considered a success, you have to know where the bullseye is. When establishing your goals, however, make sure you do NOT measure campaign results based solely on total reach or impressions. Brian Carter, CEO of The Brian Carter Group, recommends focusing on results that materially impact your bottom line.  “While it may not easy to measure trackable sales, it IS possible to do so,” in particular using social media amplification strategies.   

“Marketers who don’t try to achieve sales may see their influencer marketing [campaign] value frequently questioned and have trouble keeping or increasing their budgets,” he explains.  ”Because there are now social marketing strategies driving trackable sales and case studies showing the effect of social engagement on sales, the bar is rising. With a significant number of companies focusing on how to get social to create more sales, more marketers are tracking this and shifting their strategies to get better results.”

Do:  Track sales conversions, or find the goal closest to the bottom of the funnel that  you can, such as lead generation or engagement, and optimize that metric as much as possible.

3. Don’t Assume Just Any Influencer Will Do

“Brands reaching out to marketing influencers to promote car repair services, for example.  **FACEPALM**”  – Sam Hurley, Managing Director of OPTIM-EYEZ

This mistake sounds absurd, when you stop to think about it, but it happens all the time when marketers attempt to shortcut their research. “Influencers with large follower counts naturally attract attention, but their relevancy is infinitely more potent than total reach!” adds Sam.  

Do:  Identify influencers that are passionate about your brand or the problems your product or services solve, and vet them carefully.  Make sure their content, and the conversations around their content, is where you want your brand to be.

4. Don’t Treat An Influencer Like A Contractor

Mike Allton, brand evangelist for Agorapulse,does not follow the standard model of identifying influencers, offering them a deal, and pushing them to execute. Instead, he is 100% focused on building real relationships with key influencers such that the entire perspective changes. “It’s not a transactional exchange, but rather friends helping friends to succeed together.” he says. “We go out of our way to provide them with help and resources so that when we ask for help, they can’t wait to jump in.”

Do:  Build authentic relationships with influencers.  Treat them like the well-loved, outspoken opinion leaders that they are. Because the focus is on relationships, Mike cautions that patience must be in abundance: “You cannot rush or force a relationship. You can take steps and do certain things to help it along and try to make sure that it grows in a positive direction, but ultimately you have zero control over that relationship. It’s a mutual state of existence which requires buy-in from both parties — you and the influencer. “

5. Don’t Assume Influencers Want to Work for Free

One of the biggest mistakes we see all time is companies offering to provide free access to a software application or platform as the only payment or exchange of value for engaging an influencer.  “That is not a gift but an obligation as it takes a lot of investment in time for an influencer or their team to learn the intricacies of a platform,” explains Jeff Bullas, CEO of “You need to pay influencers.  They have built their distribution and influence over years of work and blood sweat and tears.”

Do:  Put a fair and equitable offer on the table.  Understand whether financial remuneration is expected, and what are the going rates. Expect to pay a premium in highly competitive consumer markets including beauty, health and wellness, toys, and consumer tech as well as for reality TV stars.

6. Don’t Micromanage Influencers (It’s a Recipe for Disaster)

“Micromanaging influencers and constantly interfering with their work only spells disaster,” says Shane Barker, CEO, Shane Barker Consulting.  “Give them creative freedom, and respect their process if you want your campaign to succeed.”

Sage advice.  Last summer,I worked with a PR agency that launched an augmented reality shoot-em-up game, and they insisted on changing video titles and descriptions, both of which are key SEO ranking factors on YouTube.  As a result, the client lost over a half million views on a single video compared to the YouTube family’s average viewership.

Do:  Respect their creative process.  Provide brand messaging that gets your point across and clear guidelines that leaving plenty of wiggle room for influencers to create content the way they know best.

Closing Thoughts

While there is no one-size-fits all approach to Influencer Marketing, three factors consistently stands out in every successful collaboration: have a written game plan, do your research, and build authentic relationships with the people you want to work with.

*You’ll find these and other do’s and don’ts for successful influencer marketing, along with some of the best influencer marketing campaigns from the past year, in the free eBook:  The Ultimate Influencer Marketing Playbook of 2018.

Jenna Dobkin is Nimble Communications Director and a veteran influence and advocacy marketing professional. She’s dedicated her career to helping businesses build their brands, enhance and grow their community relationships, and close more deals, both online and IRW.

Influencer stock photo by Aratehortua/Shutterstock