You may be skeptical about whether Influencer Marketing drives results against your primary objectives. You’ve likely heard horror stories about other brands investing sizable budgets only to not get the ROI they were hoping for. I could tell you that the global Influencer Marketing market size has more than doubled since 2019, according to Statista. Additionally, I could point you to a survey done by Influencer Marketing Hub that shows how 90 percent of respondents believe Influencer Marketing is an effective form of marketing. And, if I really wanted to pull out the big guns, I’d show you that Influencer Marketing was valued at 13.8 billion dollars in 2021. However, if you’re still not convinced, dispelling the most common misconceptions about Influencer Marketing may be just the information you need to make campaign decisions.
Common Misconception 1: Influencer Marketing is expensive
Celebrity influencers and those with huge followings often charge five to six figures for one Instagram post. So, it goes without saying that you can spend a lot of money on Influencer Marketing campaigns if you prefer. Assuming that’s not in your budget, though, rest assured that the vast majority of influencers have more reasonable compensation expectations. To clarify, you can pay fair wages and partner with the right influencers while meeting campaign objectives.
Common Misconception 2: Influencer Marketing is cheap or free.
The good news is that creator partnerships can be affordable. In fact, you can partner with some influencers, compensating them in product instead of cash. However, do your research. Fair pay is an issue, so identifying equitable payment for the type of campaign you’re working on is key. For example, nano-influencers tend to appreciate free products more than other influencers. They also tend to have higher engagement rates. Therefore, if you want to sell, say, socks, you could send nano-influencers your product with a discount code in exchange for their willingness to share a review and the offer with their followers.
Conversely, the more followers an influencer has, the less likely that free product will suffice, unless you have luxury or higher-value items. For instance, say you’re a cruise company trying to increase awareness of the availability and safety of your cruises. You could give influencers free vacations and in exchange, they could share their trip via their social channels, tagging your brand. To get the best coverage, consider covering airfare, offering offshore excursions, and giving them VIP experiences aboard the ship.
Common Misconception 3: Compensating influencers in free product results in purchase conversions.
Moving consumers from awareness to conversion in the customer journey requires much more than throwing products at your favorite influencers. Hoping these creators will not only promote said product but have followers primed to purchase is wishful thinking. In short, this tactic will not guarantee conversion. So, how can your brand drive purchases?
First, see common misconception 2 above to get a clear understanding of the expectations surrounding earned media and product-compensated campaigns. Second, identify the appropriate activation for each stage of the Influencer Marketing funnel. And third, ensure you are providing fair pay based on influencers’ contributions. That usually involves more than just free products. Not every campaign takes customers from the awareness to the referral phases. For example, a TikTok video may generate billions of impressions and lead to massive awareness. But, it likely won’t help your brand get repeat business or referrals, especially if you don’t target the right audience. A blog tour sharing an eBook about your brand’s services may create evergreen content and help your brand get organic search. Furthermore, it may drive downloads and get you contact information. However, it doesn’t guarantee sales.
Honing in on the marketing funnel stage you most want customers to go to, choosing campaign objectives that align with that stage, and selecting tactics that support it will best drive your desired results.
Common Misconception 4: Nano- or micro-influencers don’t drive results.
Often, influencers who are newer to social media or who have smaller followings are just the right resources to get your brand its desired results. To clarify, micro-influencers have up to 75,000 followers on Instagram, up to 50,000 views on YouTube, or up to 100,000 monthly views on their blog. Although their followings are up and coming, what truly sets them apart is their high engagement and loyal followers. Because of those two things, micro-influencers are stellar at not only raising awareness but guiding potential buyers farther down the Influencer Marketing funnel. The key is to be relentless about checking their engagement, finding evidence of audiences that follow calls to action, and proving how their followers move from top to bottom of the marketing funnel.
Common Misconception 5: All influencers buy followers.
The highest quality influencers, like the ones we work with, don’t need to buy followers. Yes, fake followers can be a thing. These are automated accounts, or bots, not representing real people. However, you can avoid them with a solid vetting process.
Common Misconception 6: YouTubers don’t need to be paid because they make their money from ads and views.
Claiming that an influencer doesn’t need campaign compensation because they make money from ads and views is like saying professionals shouldn’t get paid for their jobs if they have other streams of revenue. YouTube influencers invest time and money to produce quality videos. Therefore, they deserve fair payment, whether cash or product compensation or both.
Smaller YouTube influencers may be happy to produce review-type videos in exchange for products. However, driving results from video-based campaigns (we all know the importance of video these days, right?), requires partnering with influencers with high views and engagement. Furthermore, you get what you pay for. So, commit to equitable compensation.
Common Misconception 7: Influencers’ audiences don’t like sponsored content.
Most influencers’ audiences recognize that creators can’t live on views alone. Furthermore, they get why an influencer would want to partner with their favorite brands. Additionally, they rely on their reviews, tips, and recommendations to assist in their purchasing decisions.
At the same time, influential social media mavens know how to be authentic. Namely, they follow the FTC’s guidelines and disclose brand ambassadorships to their followers. Obviously, some people may not prefer sponsored content, but the vast majority understand it’s part of the deal.
Common Misconception 8: Influencers with more subscribers or followers drive higher ROI.
Influencers with a high quantity of subscribers and followers may drive incredible results. However, these movers and shakers may not always be the golden ticket. In fact, both reach and impressions are inextricably tied to engagement. Therefore, the people that are more likely to move further down the funnel are the ones that like, share, save, or comment (i.e., engage) with influencer’s content. In short, whether you partner with macro-influencers or nano-influencers or anyone in between, pay attention to engagement!
Common Misconception 9: Most influencers are either unprofessional amateurs or stuck-up celebrities.
Anyone who’s put in the effort to get at least 1,000 followers on Instagram and wants to partner with brands knows they can’t afford to be unprofessional amateurs. They also recognize that professionalism gets them the most gigs. Furthermore, many celebrities or “weblebrities” have agents, making it so you don’t interact with them—stuck-up or not—anyway. The “anything-goes” beginning days of Influencer Marketing have passed. Hundreds of thousands of influencers globally means amateur or difficult influencers won’t survive the competition. In fact, the best influencers—meaning those with big audiences and high engagement—produce quality content frequently and promote your brand authentically. While they might not display your products like hired talent would, therein lies their value.
The trick is to work with the right influencers and draw up contracts that define your requirements. Most importantly, give them enough creative license to promote in a way that is true to their brand and is a fit for yours.
Misconception 10: You can’t measure campaign success.
Measuring campaign success can be fast and easy. First, familiarize yourself with what results are possible from each Influencer Campaign activation. Next, identify the campaign’s desired results. Then, create a tracking plan. Finally, ensure you have the right tracking tools. For example, if your goal is to increase brand awareness by 10 percent, you could measure that by tracking impressions and engagement. However, if your goal is to drive sales, and you’ve decided to pair affiliate marketing with Influencer Marketing, you could measure that by the influencer affiliate’s unique click-throughs.
Some common campaign objectives and ways to track them include:
- For tracking unique blog post views, use Google Analytics Behavior data.
- To log impressions like follows, retweets, likes, listens (podcast, audio, video), sponsored updated likes, and update views (video, live streaming), use platform-specific analytics, such as Facebook insights, Instagram insights, In-platform insights (e.g., for podcast listens or downloads), Twitter analytics, or YouTube analytics.
- For engagement, record shares, comments, saves, opens, and click-through rates (emails or links). Similar to impressions, you can use your tool or platform’s analytics programs. For example, use your email service provider’s insights, Facebook insights, Instagram insights, Pinterest analytics, TikTok analytics, Twitter analytics, YouTube analytics, etc.
Discussing metrics at the outset ensures you have a plan in place so stats aren’t an afterthought. Most importantly, create a baseline at the campaign’s outset, track regularly throughout the campaign, and capture quantitative and qualitative data. That way, when it comes time to craft your results report, you can simply drop the data into the design and prove ROI.
Wrapping It Up
Misconceptions exist about Influencer Marketing. However, if you take the time to dive into the truths behind them, you’ll find that Influencer Marketing is both effective and reliable. Above all, identify your campaign’s objectives, match tactics to the goals, and track metrics throughout the campaign to prove ROI.