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Three massive influencer marketing fails businesses can learn from

Anthony Richardson /

influencer marketing

Q-83 founder and managing director Anthony Richardson. Source: Supplied.

Influencer marketing can be a powerful way to reach new audiences and deepen relationships with existing ones. When it’s done right, it can have a big impact on your bottom line and brand sentiment.

With authenticity and transparency firmly in the spotlight, when things go wrong, it doesn’t take long for the public to rally together and call it out. This can have nasty effects on a brand’s reputation that don’t go away quickly.

Here are three of the biggest influencer marketing fails over the past few years, and key lessons, to make sure it’s not your brand at the butt of the joke.

Are they friends with the enemy?

In 2018, Gal Gadot (@GalGadot) tweeted a video introducing her ‘new mate’, the new Huawei Mate 10 Pro, from her iPhone.

The slip up was called out pretty quickly, being retweeted over 1600 times before she had a chance to take it down and republish it from an android.

Social media users are pretty quick to spot a phoney and when you’re looking to make relationships with influencers and ambassadors, it’s key that their values and their behaviour align with the brand.

If an influencer constantly mentions one brand only to switch to the competitor on a dime, their audience will be pretty quick to call out their lack of authenticity and that association can have disastrous effects on a brand’s reputation.

It’s important you do your research before you engage an influencer. Search their previous brand partnerships and their content for anything that might make your ads come across as anything but authentic.

Let creatives be creative

In 2015, Scott Disick (@letthelordbewithyou) was paid to promote Bootea’s weightless shake and ended up posting the email instructions he was sent into the caption.

I’m not surprised. When you take away all of the creative direction from an influencer it’s no wonder all he thought to do was copy and paste.

Influencers and content creators know their audience better than anyone. They’ve built a following by sharing content their audience loves, consistently. When you throw #ads in the mix that are inconsistent with their other media and tone of voice, their audience can spot it, immediately disengaging and losing trust.

When you work with influencers, feel free to give them direction but don’t dictate the process. They are creatives so, let them be creative.

Is their audience as big as you think it is?

Recently, Arianna Renee (@arii) was set to launch her new fashion business of the back of her huge Instagram following. In order for the production company to fulfil orders and continue to manufacture her product, she needed to sell at least 36 t-shirts, which she failed to do.

It’s easy to see how she could have presumed her large following would translate into sales. A lot of brands get caught in this trap, paying extraordinary amounts of money for influencers with millions of followers, who’s content fails to reach anywhere near than many people.

The number marketers need to focus on is reach. This is the number of unique accounts that actually see a piece of media.

Just like any other form of advertising, in order to predict ROI, you need to first know how many people will actually see the ad at all.

There’s another lesson to be learnt here. It’s not always just about how many people see an ad, you need the right people to see it. Often we see supermodels partner with swimwear brands because they look amazing in the product. That works great when it comes to creating eye-catching content but, when it comes to generating sales, not so much.

Many of these influencers have a large, male-based following, often in countries where these products aren’t even sold. Sure, their content has high engagement rates, but not from anyone likely to buy the product.

It’s important to look at an influencer’s audience demographics to make sure they match up with your target audience.

Don’t be fooled into thinking the guy on the cover of GQ magazine who looks great in a suit has an audience full of men in need of a new one.

NOW READ: Why bigger isn’t always better when it comes to influencer marketing

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Anthony Richardson

Anthony is the founder and managing director at Q-83.