By Sammy Alderson
Rumors and theories run free in the wild, wild west of influencer marketing. After 300 hours of searching for influencers last year, I had some theories of my own regarding the biggest misconceptions. To confirm my theories — or to debunk — I turned to the experts — brand and agency influencers — who shared what they believe are the biggest misconceptions in the influencer marketing industry.
Katie from Native — Clean personal care
“One of the biggest misconceptions is that influencer marketing is a good fit for every brand. Executing a successful influencer marketing campaign comes with many challenges, including activating on the correct channel, with the correct creators and the correct offer and messaging. These things take time and resources to test and optimize. Just having an influencer talk about your brand or product is not going to move the needle.”
Jen from Top Tier Media — Social media management
“One of the biggest misconceptions is that working with influencers leads to immediate sales and instant ROI. It can happen, but in general, a brand should expect that working with influencers is more of a branding exercise and they can expect more long-term ROI. It’s also important to work with many influencers (not just a few), and to form long-term partnerships with the ones that really vibe with your brand.”
Ise from Meeki — Cosmetics brand
“I believe one of the biggest misconceptions around influencer marketing is that it’s very easy and quick to do, which is not the case. It takes a lot of time to find the perfect influencer that fits with the brand. On the other hand, people see it as a very lucrative business and [believe] that whatever influencer they collaborate with, it will be successful. This is obviously also not true, as many influencer collaborations result in little to no sales or interaction.
Matt from Reverb Communications — Video game marketing
“Even in this day and age, ruled by social media, there still is no substitute for meeting in person. This makes attending events extremely important. In-person engagement is more genuine and personal. You simply can’t shake a hand, give a distinctive look, high five or get/give a hug when separated by miles.”
Madelynn from Mattr — Influencer marketing platform
“To me, the biggest misconception is that it’s easy. A lot of clients come to us and treat it like it is nothing. Or a lot of brands try to do it in-house before seeking a platform or agency. I think they don’t realize what goes into finding a truly good influencer. Not just based on the look and feel, but engagement, interest, rate, location, experience, availability, audience demographics and psychographics, etc. It really narrows down your pool. We get last-minute requests all the time from clients or brands that want to launch a campaign in two weeks because to them it’s just finding one of the millions of influencers on Instagram to upload an image. But there is so much more that goes into trying to find a truly impactful influencer, at least to the standards of our company.”
Paul from Position Music — Music publisher
“The biggest misconception is that you have to ‘go big’ and get an influencer with more followers or a larger community. We’ve found that finding those ‘mid-tier’ influencers that have a good audience overlap with our music is a sweet spot for us. It usually feels more authentic and organic and is usually cheaper. It takes more groundwork to do research on the potential influencer’s following and to see if it’s a good fit, but we’ve found it’s worth it in the long run. It’s also beneficial to work with a mid-tier influencer before their community grows even larger so you can establish a healthy relationship and rapport.”
Michele from KidBox — Kids’ clothing
“There are a few big misconceptions about influencer marketing. First, that it is not as efficient as the traditional forms of marketing. Second, that influencers are lazy people without jobs trying to make money off of posts. I think a lot of companies are hesitant to fully invest in influencer marketing because they don’t think it is as impactful as traditional marketing, like an ad in a magazine, a billboard or a commercial. This is completely false; in every campaign I have run we have hit over one million impressions. We personally send influencer unique swipe ups and codes to see how many people they bring to the website as well as how many orders are generated. You can’t get those kind of numbers off a commercial.”
Danish from MTalent Asia — Talent agency
“People have a misconception that the influencers’ number of followers — or even any influencers they see or know personally — are the only thing that matters in getting the product out. Curating a list of influencers for a campaign is very important in order to get a successful result. For example, the influencers need to have consistent content quality, good engagement (likes and comments) and they also need to do something of worth (public interests such as music, film/tv, make up YouTube, charity organizations) in their career. Not only that, understanding their demographic is key. So numbers are not the only factor for a successful campaign, but one element in a combination of different factors to make a cohesive influencer campaign.”
Sammy Alderson is cofounder of marketing tool Strawberry Socials. He’s also an Official Snapchat Lens Creator and has developed musical artists on TikTok.