3 reasons influencer campaigns fail, and how to fix them


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Choosing a social media influencer or brand ambassador is a risky proposition. Finding out your influencer has done something embarrassing is every marketer’s nightmare, but the truth is that most influencer campaigns fail for more mundane reasons. Not connecting with your audience or creating an inauthentic experience are common reasons why social influencer campaigns fail so often.

With social media becoming such a big part of branding, finding the right influencer has never been more important. The right choice can give your brand a boost with fans and potential customers; the wrong choice often just disappears into thin air — or worse.

This article will look at three common mistakes companies make when choosing a social influencer, and what they can do to make the best influencer choice possible.

Choosing an influencer before knowing your market
The mistake: A company doesn’t know its target market or its influencer’s target market well enough. The influencer campaign doesn’t register, and doesn’t increase sales.

The solution: Know your target market
Choosing an influencer can’t be done overnight. It can’t be done by gut feel. It takes research and deep social insights. The first step is getting to know your target market in a broad sense. A maker of sports jerseys may do this segmentation analysis and find that its market is largely young men.

That’s only half the task, though. You also have to segment the influencer’s audience by the same factors. An influencer that appeals to women over 60 will likely not move the needle for your audience, leaving your campaign dead in the water before it starts.

This is, by far, the most basic step of choosing an influencer, but if you skip it, there’s no way your campaign can be successful.

Not matching your influencer and market affinities
The mistake: After finding the target market through segmentation, the company chooses an influencer with the same target market, but performs no other research.

The solution: Know your audience and influencer affinities
Segmenting your target audience is really just a step along the way of picking an influencer. Skipping it virtually guarantees failure, but success requires more detailed analysis. Sure, your influencer may match the broad segments that you’re looking for, but does your audience and your influencer’s audience have similar affinities? Continuing with the sports jersey example, let’s say that social media analysis shows your audience’s main interests are football, Pittsburgh, trucks and baseball. Choosing an influencer whose audience talks about minivans, food, soccer and childcare will probably not move the needle.

It goes deeper, though. Even having one affinity off can make or break a campaign. Using the example above, if you’re marketing game jerseys to Pittsburgh Steelers fans, Tom Brady likely matches all your broad, target market segmentation, and an affinity analysis will show his fans also talk about football, trucks and baseball. But that one miss — Pittsburgh vs. New England — is a deal breaker for any serious fan. This shows again, there are no shortcuts. Performing analysis and getting deep social insights, and using them, is the only way to get your campaign off on the right foot.

Not investigating shared values
The situation: A company does the basic research and picks an influencer, but people don’t believe the person is authentic and the campaign doesn’t catch on.

The solution: Shared brand values
On the surface, this may not seem like a mistake at all. There’s no doubt that many influencer campaigns are successful even when they just eliminate the first two mistakes. But those campaigns that truly stick with us, and yield great results for companies, make sure the influencer and company share core values as well.

Here, we’re not talking necessarily talking about those tough-to-measure things like character and trust — although those are important. Ensuring authenticity is perhaps the most important thing when developing a social media campaign, so finding an influencer that already embodies the values of your brand gives you a big head start.

For example, if the sports jersey company is targeting Pittsburgh, an influencer that is already a well-known fan of the teams can give the campaign credibility from the start. Likewise, the posts and interactions will feel more organic to the audience, because they will be more organic.

Finding these types of matches requires deep text analysis, but also needs tools that can accurately identify things like logos, objects and people, in addition to situations and even actions. If a potential influencer has posted a picture of himself wearing a jersey, while cheering on his team at the game, that could be critical in your decision, so you need to have the tools that can give you that information.

Choosing an influencer is scary, but it can be one of the best ways to promote your brand. Eliminating these three common points of failure takes a lot of the guesswork out of the decision. Relying on research and deep social insights, rather than a gut feeling or cursory analysis, puts you on the path toward a long, rewarding relationship with the influencer you choose.

Lou Jordano
Lou Jordano is chief marketing officer at Crimson Hexagon, bringing more than 20 years of experience building and leading high-impact teams within global enterprises and high-growth startups. Prior to Crimson Hexagon, Lou served as the CMO for Attivio, a privately held cognitive search and insight platform company.  Previously, Lou was the CMO at Ektron, now Episerver, and held leadership positions at TIBCO Software and EMC, now Dell. Lou holds a Master of Arts from Hofstra University and a Bachelor of Arts from Holy Cross.


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