There are a lot of ways to start utilizing influencer marketing as part of your brand, and unfortunately, not all of them work as well as they could. As such, there are also a lot of myths floating around the emerging practice, and it’s really important to figure out what’s what before you devote time, money and resources to influencer marketing campaigns that end up leading nowhere.
To help, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common myths and the reasons that they are, in fact, wrong.
Myth #1: More Followers = More Sales
There are just too many reasons that someone could have a high volume of followers. Take Arianna Renee, for example. You would think with 2.6 million followers, her clothing line would make massive sales. In reality, the brand she was working with dropped her because she couldn’t sell…
Why? Because it’s not about follower count – it’s about seeking out and finding influencers who know their audience, create authentic content and engage.
Arianna has followers of all demographics, interests and ages. That means they’re not following her because she creates quality content in a niche they love – they’re following her because, well, everyone else is, so why not?
As you find your influencers, you’ll be far better off working with those whose audiences align entirely with your niche (even if they have a smaller audience) rather than influencers who have a large, broad audience.
Myth #2: Fakes are Unavoidable
Fakes are unavoidable only if you jump in headfirst without any planning or research done beforehand. With the right tools and connections, though, you can steer clear of fake influencers.
Check follower-to-following ratio, the comments, the replies, etc. But most importantly, check who they’re connected to.
Are they interacting and collaborating with other influencers?
Do they seem well established in their niche (even if they’re a nano influencer)?
Do they have a history of successful partnerships and collaborations?
The point is this: don’t rely on the numbers or some secret metrics formula to weed out fakes. Talk to the influencers, build relationships with them, find ways to get plugged into their community. And when you find an influencer you trust? Ask that influencer to guide you to others who align with your brand.
Myth #3: Scalable = Simple
Sure, simple copy-and-paste campaigns are scalable, and they definitely have their benefits. But creative, unique campaigns are where it’s at for long-term ROI. And they can be scalable, too, when you’re connected to the right influencers.
For example, Perlu’s influencers sat down with a multi-billion dollar car rental company to help them come up with a campaign. The idea? Host a 25th Birthday Road Trip for influencers of all kinds who are turning 25 (the age you can finally rent a car).
Think about it: instead of having dozens of influencers post a picture or two on Instagram, why not send those same influencers a rental car to take a road trip?
It’s definitely more involved than a copy-and-paste Instagram caption but the influencer marketing ROI is exponentially higher because they’ll be posting pictures and videos all along the way!
The brand would get tons of content, and the bonus? That content would tell a story, which is far more engaging than a single Instagram post that gets lost in the feed after a couple days. In fact, stories are so powerful, they actually change the brain’s chemistry.
Myth #4: FTC Guidelines Don’t Matter
The Federal Trade Commission has long been filing complaints against large companies like Sony and Warner Bros. for digital advertising violations. But now?
The FTC has turned its fiery eye on someone else: influencers.
The crackdown really took a turn in 2017, when the FTC sent out 90 warning letters to influencers in a single month. Yikes.
FTC violations can lead to thousands of dollars in fines for both brands and influencers. Just take CSGOLotto, Inc. for example. They paid some gamers up to $55,000 to post about using the gaming site and got a rude wakeup call when the FTC found out.
FTC guidelines aren’t hard to follow, and doing so shows you’re a trustworthy company who works with trustworthy influencers. Having your influencers add #sponsored in an Instagram caption is far easier than recovering after the FTC puts you on blast and ruins your brand reputation, right?
Myth #5: Social Media is King
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube… there are billions of people on these platforms, making them popular influencer marketing tools.
What many brands are failing to remember, though, is that social media influencers aren’t the OGs of the influencer marketing world. Bloggers are. In many ways, they built this industry, and they’re essential for your influencer marketing strategy.
“At Kaplow, we truly believe that influencer marketing is an extension of communication strategy,” senior vice president of influencer marketing Samara Finn Holland told us. “It’s not just a siloed distribution channel… we really look at what I call the whole ecosystem of influence that surrounds our client’s consumer target.”
In short, the most effective influencer marketing strategy is holistic. It includes influencers of all kinds – social media influencers and bloggers.
Remember Vine? Remember how huge it was and then how it just…died?
Influencers who blog are far more immune to the ups and downs of social media. Instagram may die one day, but the internet sure isn’t going anywhere for a long, long time. So wrapping bloggers back into your influencer marketing strategy will set you up for success that outlasts social media platforms.
Myth #6: Influencer Marketing is Transactional
We get it. You’re trying to scale your influencer marketing. As we discussed in Myth #3, many brands assume “scalable” has to equate to “simple.” So you fill the pipeline with copy-and-paste campaigns with a dozen or two dozen influencers. They post. You pay. Bada-bing-bada-boom. Campaign over.
What you’ve just done is a transaction. And while transactional influencer marketing campaigns have their uses, relational influencer marketing is where the real, long-term ROI lies.
Because your audience is increasingly concerned with authenticity.
So how do you make sure your influencers’ content feels authentic?
By choosing influencers who are truly invested in your brand and building relationships with them so that they can produce more authentic content, more often.
The more your influencer shares your product – the more ingrained your brand is with their brand – the more their audience will trust that your product is really worth investing in.
Myth #7: Influencer Marketing Can Be 100% Automated
Sure, you can automate data collection, payments, email blasts and auto-responses. You can even automate your own posting schedule. There are so many new tools and resources making influencer marketing easier and easier – which is awesome! These tools can help you create smarter, more efficient influencer marketing campaigns.
But can they help you automate everything? No.
Should you automate everything? Also no.
Take a look back at Myth #6 where we talk about building relationships. Relationships are built through real conversations between real people, not an automated template email that relies on personalization tags like %FirstName%.
Or check out Myth #2. How do you avoid fakes? Not by trusting a tool that only looks at numbers and metrics. You avoid fakes by looking at who they know and interact with, who they collaborate with and the quality of content they produce.
Or how about Myth #3? How do you create scalable campaigns that go beyond one-time, transactional, copy-and-paste campaigns? By involving influencers upstream in the brainstorming process. You can’t automate a brainstorming session.
Influencer marketing relies on building relationships, building trust and producing creative and authentic content. Try to automate that, and your influencer marketing campaigns will always fall flat.
Myth #8: Influencers Aren’t Marketers
While they may not be formally trained in marketing (though some of them are), influencers do understand one thing better than anyone else: their audience.
Genuine influencers have grown and nurtured their audience by learning what kind of content they love, how to engage with them and how to “sell” to them in a way that works.
So while they may not have a marketing degree, they do know their audience (and how to market to them) like the back of their hand. Combine that kind of insight with your greatest marketing minds and you’ll create an influencer marketing powerhouse.
Myth #9: Influencer Marketing Isn’t Right for Your Brand
We’ve seen brands of all kinds get into influencer marketing – from SmileDirect (a brand making waves with the new at-home braces trend) to Smoke Shack Jerky to Binx (an STI at-home testing company).
If you approach influencer marketing already thinking about the “limitations,” you’ll never meet your full potential. You don’t need to be a glam or “trendy” brand selling beauty products or the newest tech gadget to get into influencer marketing. Influencer marketing can work for any brand.
Because buyers are more empowered than ever with the tools and information to research a product before they buy. A whopping 81% of buyers conduct research before buying a product!
The only problem? There is so much information out there. So what do buyers do in the face of information overwhelm? Well, 76% of them turn to their peers.
The reason influencer marketing works so well is because, at its core, it’s word-of-mouth marketing. Buyers see influencers as trusted peers, which means an endorsement from an influencer is far more effective than any ad.
But don’t take our word for it. Get in touch with influencers and seek their input early and often in the brainstorming process. They’ve got the best ideas – and will be your best help in moving beyond these influencer marketing myths.
For more influencer marketing myths that you should not believe, check out this animated infographic from Giphographics.