Everybody’s doing it; but are they doing it well?
Marketing and PR teams worldwide have embraced social media marketing and influencer marketing in a major, major way. And with this embrace has come the inevitable onslaught of social media marketing tools and services that allow brands to reach out more quickly and easily to spread their word to social influencers who manage popular blogs and Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest accounts.
But with this proliferation could come peril. Done poorly, influencer marketing campaigns can damage more than just your brand or client’s good name – they can actually be damaging to marketers, audiences and the social media platforms themselves.
Anybody Can Garner Influencer Posts: That’s a Problem
Crafting a social campaign and pitching influencers is very similar to PR pitching: it’s all about targeting, targeting, targeting. But even badly targeted campaigns will yield some posts by social influencers, they just won’t get good engagements – clicks, likes, shares and comments. And they will erode social media as a marketing medium for everybody else.
Remember, since almost all major social influencer marketing campaigns incorporate paid media opportunities, you can always generate some posts even if you are targeting the wrong influencers with the wrong messages. When you offer to pay influencers to get your ball rolling with some posts, some of them will take your money even if your content doesn’t mesh with the content of their social media accounts and the interests of their audiences.
When it comes down to it, today’s plethora of influencer marketing tools may make it easy to launch campaigns and reach databases of influencers, but that’s all they are – tools. Put a hammer in someone’s hands and he could either destroy something or build something. It’s all in how you use it.
Bad Influencer Campaigns Do Damage
Bad campaigns damage the entire social marketing space in different ways.
- Marketers may still get impressions with a bad campaign, but these results may not be that helpful because they won’t result in meaningful engagements. These marketers may sour on social media campaigns because of this, convinced that influencer marketing doesn’t work. Not only does this hurt agencies in the long run, the brands lose out on valuable audience outreach opportunities.
- Followers of the social media influencers will get turned off by influencer accounts that spotlight weak ads, driving users away and reducing the audience for good, high quality marketing campaigns that actually provide value to the user.
- And social media networks are concerned about bad advertising that could hurt their reputations. They want quality content traversing their networks so that their ads work too.
Indeed, the Wall Street Journal recently wrote about the dangers of “subpar ad executions, such as awkward brand mentions in social media posts or poor targeting” when new tools to reach social influencers are used in ham-handed ways.
The Journal’s Mike Shields pointed out that “major social platforms like Instagram and Snapchat are watching these influencer tech intermediaries closely, concerned that a bad experience could result in a marketer abandoning their platform altogether.”
So What’s a Good Social Marketer to Do?
It’s simple, but requires a commitment. Here are a few keys to executing good influencer marketing campaigns:
- Start with Smart Targeting: Match the right content to the right influencers. Before you add influencers to lists, you need to read their blogs, review their social media posts and even vet their followers’ posts to make sure your brand’s messages are a good match.
- Encourage Authentic Posts: Encourage social influencers to post in their own authentic voices. It’s a handcrafted medium where authenticity matters. So don’t try to micromanage posts. Provide some suggested ones and some background material, and get out of the way!
- Hone the Content: Authenticity also matters when it comes to WHAT you are trying to promote. Your brand is the expert, so spread real content around on social media. If you make a product or provide a service that solves a problem or fulfils a need, share content about the issue at hand. Don’t just use social media to promote glorified brochureware that talks all about you and your product. Provide content your typical customer actually wants to read or engage with and you’re golden.
- Be Smart About Links: Provide links to content that bloggers and social influencers actually will want to share with their followers, where the content is similar to the unpaid content that regularly fills their blogs and social media accounts.
Of course, all this takes some investment time. You need to build networks of influencers in different topical areas. You need to craft good suggested posts and develop good supporting materials. And you have to make yourself available to pitch, remediate and communicate with the influencers as your campaign rolls out. You even need to process payments to key influencers and file tax reporting forms. Lastly, you need to track and accurately report on the posts and their usage: reach, clicks, likes, shares and comments.
These are all things we take very seriously here at StatePoint Media when we execute social influencer campaigns to amplify our customer’s stories on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. And you should, too.