Why Influencer Marketing Goes Wrong

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Few would argue that influencer marketing, done well, is ineffective. The catch is that often, it’s not done well. Marketers and brands pay too much to receive too little. Why?

The core problem is that marketers approach influencer identification in the wrong order. More often than not, the first thing someone asks is, “Who’s influential? Who’s an influencer we could tap?”

The question of who isn’t wrong, per se. What’s wrong is the order, the sequence. Asking who as the starting point ignores the context of an influencer marketing program, and context is everything.

For example, social media marketers today refer to some influencers as micro-influencers, on the assumption that the size of a following is still all that matters. What’s more important is whether or not the influencers we work with impact the audience we need to derive business results from. Size of audience is only a tiny portion of the overall context of influencer marketing.

A better order to ask questions in for influencer marketing to establish an appropriate, thorough context is:

  • Why: Why are we considering influencers? What do influencers bring to the table that other marketing methods don’t do as well?
  • How: How will we measure the success of the program?
  • What: What topic or theme do we want an influencer to be influential in?
  • When: When do we need to show campaign results? Depending on the kind of influencer, we may need anywhere from hours to months to start an outreach campaign.
  • Where: Where does the audience we seek to influence live and work online? There’s no point in looking for Facebook influencers if our audience is on Pinterest.
  • Who: Once we know why, how, what, when, and where, we start our search for who.

Note that who comes last. Creating the context around who is far more important. Design your influencer marketing programs like this and the chances of them succeeding will be far greater.

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