Are you seeing these red flags in your relationship with a social media influencer? It may be time to get some relationship help (or to say goodbye).
Marketing trends are constantly changing. Among them, influencer marketing continues to grow and has had some massive successes. But there have also been failures.
Customers are becoming increasingly tired of #ad after #ad, and it’s not easy to find a strategy that works.
As the director of Contentworks Agency, I’m often being asked to facilitate influencer relationships. In this article, I’ll show you what working with influencers can achieve and also point out the red flags that your social media influencer relationship is on the rocks.
Benefits of a Healthy Social Media Influencer Relationship
Influencer tweets increase purchase intent 5.2X and 40% of consumers report making a purchase because of influencer recommendations. Using influencers builds trust and credibility among relevant audiences. In fact, this relevance increases engagement and reach that translates into an average of 11X more ROI compared to traditional marketing methods.
And influencer marketing works for almost all industries. For example, financial services are perceived as boring, and they come with many advertising restrictions. However, Amex is proving that engaging relevant audiences makes for effective marketing. Instead of promoting its products, Amex has turned to influencers with relevant audiences to build FOMO and promote the lifestyle afforded by using the brand. The result is over 3.5 million engagements per year.
Social media influencer relationships are also great for not appearing too pushy. On average, a person is exposed to around 5,000 ads daily and that is just too intrusive. Two-thirds of consumers are now using ad blockers, which makes influencer relationships a more reliable way of reaching out to target audiences in a way that doesn’t appear as forceful as direct ads.
Influencer relationships are a powerful marketing tool, which explains why brands are willing to spend money on them. Celebrity influencer Kylie Jenner makes an estimated $1 million per Instagram post and fellow celebrities like Selena Gomez and Kim Kardashian have been known to make several hundred thousand dollars per social media post. It’s highly unlikely that businesses would be willing to part with such large amounts of money if influencer marketing didn’t work.
The Downside of Social Media Influencer Relationships
About 42% of the world’s population uses social media and unsurprisingly, businesses are leveraging its power. However, influencer relationships don’t always go well. Recent years have been marked by some epic fails. Does Fyre Festival ring any bells?
Fyre Festival has been dubbed “the greatest party that never happened.” The music festival, which was meant to be exclusive and luxurious, had a massive influencer campaign that involved many celebrities. There was so much buzz that the #FyreFest campaign went viral and got 300 million impressions in 24-hours.
However, the whole festival turned out to be a disaster. One of the most viral photos from the event is one of a cheese sandwich that was served to party-goers instead of the celebrity chef-made food that was promised. With several fails like this, influencers are now expected to take more responsibility regarding the products and services they promote.
Social media influencer relationships are also evolving. Consumers are aware that influencer marketing is just another marketing tactic. As a result, they are increasingly more reluctant to follow influencer recommendations than before and the fact that #ad and #sponsored are everywhere is not helping much.
Consumers are craving authenticity and many influencer strategies need some refining. There’s also much talk around regulating the influencer industry. After the Fyre Festival disaster, more attention is given to influencer responsibility for campaigns. In the UK, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has tighter rules for influencers, who are now required to follow an influencers’ guide and influencers in the UAE are required to have licenses under the new media rules.
A social media relationship can make or break engagement and brand authority. You need to know when such a relationship is in trouble and how to fix the problem.
Not sure what influencer relationship trouble looks like? Here are seven signs to look out for.
1. You are getting too much negativity
Customers are the backbone of any business, and their unhappiness can cost you your reputation as well as money. If you start receiving too much negativity from customers you need to fix the problem fast. When Aloni Benau, the founder of Australian firm Glow Dreaming started getting lots of negative feedback from the brand’s influencer campaigns, he decided it was time to change strategy.
The founder realized that the brand was losing its authenticity when Instagram influencers started messaging the company asking for free stuff and the influencer campaigns also started getting many comments like “This is just another paid ad.” The business decided to ditch the influencers and focus on user-generated content, and this has increased sales by 15%.
Social media manager tip: Invest in social listening and monitoring tools to stay on top of any negative customer feedback and comments. Although you don’t have to completely rule out influencer marketing because of a few negative comments, constant negative feedback will harm your business and you should always be aware of it and be prepared to deal with it.
2. There’s a drop or change in engagement
High engagement is a good indication that your influencer relationship is being received well by your audience. So the reverse shows that your posts are not quite driving your message home. If people no longer respond to your influencer content as much as before or they act bored or frustrated, that may signal trouble. Influencer marketing is not cheap, and follower engagement is all part of that essential ROI.
Social media manager tip: Try the following when dealing with decreasing or shifting engagement.
Look back carefully at the sort of content that gets the most engagement. Overly plugging a product in a staged way won’t do you any favors, as Volvo found out when it partnered with beauty and fashion blogger Chriselle Lim. The influencer/brand relationship didn’t seem to fit. And this riled fans while in turn led to an updated post from Lim herself.
Determine when the decline started. If the drop in engagement started after a certain influencer campaign, determine what you did differently for that particular campaign that may have affected interaction.
Talk to your audience. Sometimes your audience will go quiet on you if they don’t like what you are offering, so spark conversation to better understand what went wrong with your campaign. A quick poll or quiz with strategic questions relating to your campaigns can reveal why your audience is suddenly uninterested.
3. Your audience is shifting away from certain influencers
If your target audience is shifting away from certain influencers and you haven’t done anything about it, you are in trouble. Many consumers are ditching endorsements from celebrities and macro-influencers because they love the authenticity and personalized experiences that micro-influencers afford them.
On average, micro-influencers get 7X more engagement than macro-influencers and their follower numbers mean they provide higher reach compared to nano-influencers. They also drive the social media buzz 22x more than any other group of influencers, and so consumers gravitate more towards them.
Consumer relationships are much tighter with micro-influencers because they are relatable, and 61% of people say information from “people like me” is more credible.
This may explain how Tom’s of Maine tripled its community by using micro-influencers and spending $0 on ads. Yes, $0. The brand noticed that its audience was shifting away from macro-influencers, and it identified micro-influencers among its existing followers and collaborated with them as advocates for the brand.
4. Your ROI is unsatisfactory
89% of marketers say their ROI from influencer marketing is better or at least comparable to that of other forms of marketing. That means many businesses have found success with influencer marketing. If your business is not seeing these results, you are probably missing something. Possible reasons for an unsatisfactory ROI include partnering with the wrong influencer, being too salesy, and simply not giving your audience what it needs.
Social media manager tip: Use a robust method for measuring ROI (59% of brands measure ROI using clicks). Analyze the changes you need to make to stay relevant to your audience and increase your ROI. To make this process effective, you will need to combine social listening with data analysis and influencer research.
5. There’s too much self-promotion
The customer must be first, even in influencer relationships. If you find that your influencer campaigns are self-centered and all about your products and services, you need to rethink your strategy. Promoting your products is essential, but bragging all the time is annoying. Consumers care more about what’s in it for them, how you are serving the community and why an influencer fits into this.
Your influencer relationship should address your audience’s needs and pain points.
Social media manager tip: If you find that your influencer relationships are too braggy, repurpose your information to show your customers what they can get from your products or services. Try the 80/20 ratio of the Pareto Principle. The idea is that 80% of effects come from just 20% of causes, therefore, you will get more interaction from your influencer relationships by minimizing the amount of time spent on promotion and focusing more on interaction.
Source: Content Authority
Successful marketing hinges on building trust and brand loyalty, and that is achieved by giving people what they need without them asking. Once you achieve this, the sales will follow.
6. You are working with unpopular influencers
Working with unpopular or controversial influencers can jeopardize your influencer campaigns. For instance, Kendall Jenner has had some major slip-ups with some of her influencer campaigns. One of the most prominent was her appearance in a controversial Pepsi commercial, which was accused of undermining the Black Lives Matter movement. The regret she showed for appearing in the ad also did her no favors with many calling for her to apologize outright and not just cry.
Khloe Kardashian also faced backlash for being “irresponsible” about the products she promotes. Body confidence activist and actress Jameela Jamil criticized the star for putting her name to non-FDA approved weight loss shakes.
Working with big stars may seem like a great idea because of their huge follower base, but it may be hard to convince people to try out her endorsed products due to their history.
Social media users are unforgiving, and couple that with the fact that consumers trust influencers less and less and you may want to rethink working with an influencer who is unpopular. Similarly, you should do your due diligence before picking an influencer and dishing out your marketing budget.
Social media manager tip: Conduct thorough influencer research. While there are several agencies that can streamline your influencer selection process, it’s wise to look into your influencers’ past campaigns and possible associations yourself. After all, would you be quick to believe an event ad from the Fyre Festival influencers?
7. Your competitors are changing tact
One of the big rules in marketing is that you need to be aware of what the competition is doing. If you find that most of your competitors are dropping their influencers, then it may be a sign. For example, when it was revealed that social media influencer Olivia Jade had illegally gained entry to USC with their mother Lori Loughlin bribing the college $500,000, she was dropped by multiple brands including Sephora and TRESemmé.
Likewise, one of Australia’s most prominent radio stars Alan Jones was recently dropped on mass by advertisers after stating that Australian prime minister Scott Morrison should “shove a sock” down the throat of New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern. Volkswagen Australia, ME Bank and Anytime Fitness are among more than a dozen advertisers who cut ties after listeners approached them directly on Twitter:
Social media manager tip: Understand the competition’s reason for changing tact before following blindly. You need to ask what the competition’s motive and goals are before concluding that your influencer relationship is in trouble. However, a move by many competitors at once probably signals that you need to move, too. Keep on top of key hashtags on Twitter and remain in touch with follower sentiment.
What to ask yourself
Identifying and acknowledging that your social media influencer marketing is in trouble may save your brand from losing some much-needed brand loyalty and authority. Plan your influencer marketing relationship in advance and consider …
How successful your influencers have been in the past?
What ROI can you expect to get for your influencer marketing involvement?
Engagement rates: Are influencers expected to make one post or engage with users?
Will you provide the content or will the influencer?
Are there any compliance issues involved?
Have you got an easy “get out” clause?
Are you withholding a portion of the fee based on the campaign’s success?
And finally, don’t be lazy and rely on social media reports given to you by your influencer. Those may be skewed and leave out critical information. Always be vigilant and use your social media management tools to monitor interactions.
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