Maybe you’ve heard that influencer marketing is projected to be a $10 billion industry. Or maybe you just have a passion for (insert your favorite topic here) and you’d love to turn that passion into a full-fledged, IRS-paying gig.
Great! Someone, somewhere out there needs your expertise! And some brand, somewhere is looking for someone like you to help promote their wares.
Whether you have five Instagram followers or 5,000, it helps to know the smartest, most efficient ways to build your influencer brand. (And make no mistake, if you want to succeed in influencer marketing, you need to think of yourself as a brand.)
With the Perlu blog, we’re striving to share helpful articles to get you started on the right path to success as an influencer. At the same time, it’s equally as important for you to know what minefields to avoid. So we’ve gathered a list of the top mistakes that we’ve seen new influencers make, along with advice on how to get out of any ruts should you fall into them.
Now, on to the minefield…
1. Ignoring FTC Guidelines
Let’s start with the most important landmine first: the government. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is more congenial than the Internal Revenue Service, yes, but if you dare cross them, they will shut you down.
Please remember this: If you’re ever promoting another product or service through social media, you need to let your followers know that your post is sponsored by a brand. At the very least, let them know that it’s a paid post. Better yet, forget we said, “paid.”
Payment is only part of what can get you in trouble if you don’t provide full disclosure. The FTC defines it as “being rewarded.” This includes payment, discounts, being entered into a sweepstakes for a significant prize (their words), free trips, and more.
If you’re not being rewarded and genuinely love a product or service, have at it. No worries.
Otherwise, let your audience know with a quick sentence (Company A gave me this product to try, and I love it) or a hashtag (#ad or #sponsored will do the trick). You could even offer a “wink wink” to your audience by using the above hashtags and adding #gotpaid or #paythebills, depending upon your personality and brand. However, even if you want to have fun, don’t make fun of the FTC. Otherwise, you’ll put your brand and the brand you’re working with in jeopardy, which means penalties and fines could come your way.
Quick warning: Don’t think that by putting a disclosure in the post you can make a video without the disclosure. The FTC is very adamant about including the disclosure in videos too, since not all viewers read descriptions.
2. Saying “Yes” to Every Request
This one sounds easy, but if you’re reaching for the stars and burning the candles at both ends, you’ll be tempted to accept request after request (after request).
Influencer marketing is often a 24/7 job. Don’t say “yes” to every pitch, project, and opportunity that comes your way, because there’s just not enough time in the day to maintain your voice, brand, quality, consistency, and value. (Plus, you’ll be stressed out and have high blood pressure, which will make your doctor angry at you…)
If you keep hustling, the requests and money will come eventually. Concentrate on quality and value over all else. Stay true to your brand and your personality. If you check these four boxes on a project, then move on to the next one. Once these qualities start to weaken, the next thing you know, you’ll be juggling five projects—and they will all suffer in quality. Don’t think your community won’t notice.
Think of your audience and continually give them a great experience. Success will follow, without you having to make every brand and influencer happy.
Robin Camarote, founder of Work Life Lab, says, “I’m constantly trying to find the balance between too little and too much work.” Go find that balance.
3. Not Collaborating with Other Influencers
Influencer marketing is not something done in a vacuum. Some have tried. Oh, they tried. Hint: they didn’t last long out there all alone.
By its very nature, influencer marketing is a collaborative, social affair. You collaborate with brands, with your audience, and with other influencers. By collaborating with other influencers, you get in front of new audiences, faster, and more effectively.
When you partner with other influencers, you both promote the content and you do so to a much larger, combined audience. For half the work, you get 2X the reach. It’s a way for you to attract a whole new set of fans. (Plus, you get to collaborate with some creatively awesome individuals!)
Successful collaborations can include Instagram takeovers, collaborative articles, round-up blog posts, surveys, joint videos, group trips, and most anything you can imagine.
Our collaboration platform, Perlu.com, brings influencers together to do the amazing. The platform categorizes passions and topics to help you link up with likeminded individuals more efficiently and easily.
Collaborate with other influencers and you’ll be introduced to amazing, new audiences to expand your reach.
4. Being Inconsistent
Schedule, schedule, schedule.
You have scores, maybe hundreds, maybe even thousands, of followers who look forward to your posts. You need to maintain a consistent posting habit—both on social media and online (if you blog or write articles).
Believe it or not, you’re not the only person out there who has a passion for your particular topic. Chances are, if you’re not producing content, someone else will. If your audience is unsure when you might be posting next, they may move on to more reliable sources.
Consistency is king. OK, maybe queen, behind value.
If you’re having trouble maintaining consistency, try creating weekly schedules, documenting “to-do lists,” and finding your most productive time of the day and blocking it off in your calendar (no texting or shopping online). Treat your content production time like a critical client meeting—everything else should get pushed aside until it’s done.
If you’re unsure of the frequency with which you should be posting on social media, SocialReport has gathered a great list of social media posting frequencies based on engagement research. However, these findings can (and should) differ depending upon your brand and personality:
- Facebook: 1-2 posts per day
- Twitter: 3-5 tweets per day
- Instagram: 1-2 posts per day
- Pinterest: 3 pins per day
Always produce content and share through your channels according to the cadence that works best for you and your audience. Just be consistent about it.
5. Alienating Your Core Audience
User engagement is vital to your brand. We’ve seen the virgin influencer rise from a daily, no-name blogger to then appearing in multi-million-dollar campaigns, only to alienate her core audience who lifted the tide the entire time.
We get it. Influencers can become celebrities—sometimes virtually overnight. Add paparazzi and brands throwing money at you, and we can understand how a person might get carried away.
But never forget your core audience. And the most simple, rudimentary way to engage with them is to respond. If you blog, be active in the comments section. If you post, reply back. If you make videos, join in the discussion.
Yes, this can become a wormhole and can devour your precious time. However, after you post, why not hang around for an hour to gauge the reaction of your audience?
They won’t expect you to be lurking in the comments section or responding to Instagram posts in the middle of the night, at least not every night, but you can never forget to water the very seeds you’ve cultivated for hours, weeks, and years.
Keep engaging them. You may just find powerful nuggets of advice in there, especially if you start to stray from your brand or your core audience. Audience feedback is powerful, and it can help ignite new ideas in your mind so that you can keep engaging and thrilling them with your new content, art, and projects.
6. Focusing on Your Critics
Oh, the haters are out there.
They lurk in the comments section, begging for a response. They jump into your Instagram feed, questioning every motive. All this negativity can bring an influencer down and have you questioning yourself.
The more followers you earn, the more recognition you’ll receive, the more brand exposure you’ll get,…the more crazies you’ll attract. Ugh!
We know, we know. This really sucks.
YouTube personality Jaclyn Hill, otherwise known as JaclynHill1, has grown her brand to 5.4 million subscribers and worked with BECCA cosmetics and Morphe Cosmetics. However, the larger her following grows, the more haters appear in the comments.
In fact, in one of her videos, Jaclyn said, “The negativity is bringing me down. It’s making me not want to go to my videos. It’s making me not want to film videos. It’s making me not want to get creative…”
Don’t let the haters get to you. Ignore them. Mute them. Block them — that’s right, go ahead and block them. If they want to wallow in a sea of ugliness, let them do so somewhere else.
These are YOUR channels. YOUR creativity. YOUR contributions. YOUR community. Stay true to yourself. Grab your lightsaber, focus on the positive, and infinitely more positivity will flow your way.
7. Promoting a Brand You Don’t Believe In
It happens too easily. An influencer gets a big call from a New York brand, dangling money and support behind a campaign that promises to reach many, many, many, many, many eyeballs.
It’s tough to say no to that, especially if you’re fairly new to influencer marketing. But if you don’t believe in the brand, you don’t believe in the brand. It’s as simple as that, and you should probably walk away.
Much like Tip 5 above, you need to be yourself and follow your instincts. (Don’t worry. If you stray too far from your brand’s personality and essence, your followers will let you know.)
Even if you find a brand you (kinda) like, don’t be afraid to disagree with improper direction from them. You know your brand and your followers. They don’t. Plus, they have hundreds of “yes men” in their organization who quite often contradict themselves. Do not give them full reign of your brand.
An example is David Gulasi, a famous influencer in China, who let a brand partner guide him down a road he knew was wrong. He then paid the piper, with the piper being his angry audience.
Lesson learned! Only partner with brands you believe in. And once you partner with a brand, don’t let them drive your brand. Let them ride shotgun, at most, but you’re the driver.
8. Not Reviewing Analytics Data
It’s 2018, kids. Brands demand analytics. You should, too.
Where do you start? With goals. And we suggest starting with subscriber or follower goals, as they are basic and easy to track.
Where do you want to be in the next 3 months, the next 6 months, and the next year? You’ll find that when you make these goals, you have something to shoot for. A bar to reach, so to speak, so you can’t slack off, because subconsciously, you know that goal is sitting there staring at you.
Next, you need to make a plan on how to reach your goals and monitor your performance. And we’re going to get all “marketing-y” on you here, but let’s start with key performance indicators (also known as KPIs for you marketing nerds).
To oversimplify, you need to, at the very least, know what works and doesn’t work for your brand. The most popular KPIs for social include likes, followers, shares, views, downloads, comments, and web visitors from a social channel.
To start, monitor your follower growth on every social media channel. If you have a website, use Google Analytics to see what posts lead people to your site. Use YouTube Analytics for deeper insights into how viewers are engaging with your videos. Use Instagram Insights to see what works (and what doesn’t work so well) on the photo sharing platform. There are many social media monitoring tools you can use, as well, such as Mention, Keyhole, and HootSuite.
Monitor your performance through data. Then, amplify what works and minimize what doesn’t. Over time, you’ll derive the perfect formula for influencer success.
So there you have it. Eight mistakes we often see new influencers make. Avoid these, and you’ll grow your audience and achieve greater success faster. (Which, is a whole heck of a lot more fun!)