The 5 Biggest Influencer Marketing Myths That Won't Die

No, influencer marketing doesn't have to be expensive. And,no, you needn't always compensate influencers.
The 5 Biggest Influencer Marketing Myths That Won't Die
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Whom would you rather get advice from: a close friend or a brand? The answer for most people is, obviously, a friend. And, given the ever-widening transparency on the web, the definition of "friend" is expanding to include influencers.

Related: How Your Business Can Benefit From Micro-Influencer Marketing

Influencers have serious power over audiences. In fact, according to Adweek, 49 percent of people say they rely on influencers' recommendations when making a purchase decision. That's a huge opportunity for your brand.

If your brand can tap into influencers' power, you'll make a big impact on your audience, generate more leads and drive more sales. On average, businesses generate $6.50 for every $1 they spend on influencer marketing.

"In many respects, influencers are key to making sense of the billions of pieces of content and words that are published throughout social media services," marketing consultant Mark Evans has said. "They are the ones we follow, trust and ultimately help decide what will succeed or fail."

But influencer marketing isn't an easy feat for any brand. You have to make the right connections and approach your audience with a partnership that feels authentic, or risk losing out to competitors.

There is so much information out there on how you should be doing your influencer marketing strategy -- but not all of it is accurate. Here are five of the biggest influencer marketing myths many brands still think are true:

Related: 5 Reasons Micro-Influencers Shouldn't Be Ignored

1. Influencer marketing is expensive.

As humans, we're hard-wired to favor instant results. We want what we want, and we want it now. But, in marketing, the greatest payoff doesn't usually come right off the bat.

Many marketers invest the major proportion of their time and money in paid media. There, it's easy to define and gauge results but paid media don't always give you the results you want. Many are hesitant to invest in influencer marketing because they think they'll be paying a lot for little reward, but it's actually the opposite.

If you're targeting big-name celebrity influencers, there's no way around it -- you'll be shelling out a lot of dough. So,you're actually better off working with organic, niche influencers. These are the ones who can do more for your brand and will cost much less to work with.

2. You must provide influencers monetary compensation.

While cost is definitely a factor to consider when ramping up your influencer marketing strategy, it may be less than you think. Not all influencers will require payment for a partnership with your brand.

Compensation is one of the most hotly debated topics rwith influencer marketing. How do you negotiate a deal that respects the influencer's time and contributions, while still maintaining an authentic relationship?

For most influencers, money is not the most important part. No matter how much you offer, if the partnership doesn't make sense for this person's audience, he or she won't accept it. So, make sure you target influencers whose expertise, values and interests align with your brand's. This will ensure the most mutually beneficial partnership.

Compensation can also mean different things to different influencers. While some will want monetary compensation, others may want less tangible benefits. Consider offering an inside scoop on your company -- or perhaps point out that your brand can help widen the influencer's reach.

"The best reward for the influencers is one that isn't necessarily money or tangible perks.Often, being seen as influential by their peers will be enough motivation," says Tonia Ries, SVP and executive director at Edelman Square.

3. FTC compliance isn't important.

It can't happen to your brand, right? Wrong. Federal Trade Commission egulations requiring influencers to disclose paid sponsorships could result in big consequences for your brand if you don't follow them precisely. The result could be thousands of dollars in fines.

While 88 percent of marketers in a report by Linqia said they made sure influencers disclose sponsored content, 12 percent indicated they still do not comply with FTC guidelines.

If you're one of the 12 percent, it's time to step it up. Whether you're a big brand or a small mom-and-pop shop, if you're paying someone to promote your brand's products and services, that person must disclose the sponsorship.

4. The more followers an influencer has, the better

Not all influencers are created equal. Take Kim Kardashian, for instance. She has one of the largest social media followings ever, but does that mean she's the right sponsor for a tractor brand? Probably not.

"Stop 'big name hunting,'" says Joe Chernov, vice president of marketing at InsightSquared."They're all ego-trapped out. Focus instead on next-generation leaders and you'll have them all to yourself."

While Kim Kardashian does have a huge number of followers, not all of those followers are going to be the right audience for your brand. In fact, teens are seven times more emotionally attached to YouTube personalities than to traditional celebrities. So if you're looking to target teens, it wouldn't even make sense to work with a big celebrity.

Instead of follower count, look at the followers themselves. How engaged are they? The more engaged they are, the more likely they will be to take action.

When searching for an influencer to work with, make sure the influencer has a voice in your industry and that your audience trusts that person. If they're a leading tractor blogger, that partnership will make more sense for your tractor brand.

"People are overwhelmed by information density and look to social proof for guidance on who to follow," says Mark Schaefer, social media marketing consultant. "But, in the long term, lasting influence comes from trust, not your number of Twitter followers."

5. Measuring the ROI of influencer marketing is impossible

Defining success is one of the biggest challenges marketers face -- especially when it comes to influencers. Last year, 86 percent of marketers, according to one survey used influencer marketing and most planned to double their investments in 2017. But 78 percent of those marketers said that determining the ROI of influencer marketing was going to be their top challenge for 2017.

What's important here is that measuring ROI doesn't have to be difficult. With the right metrics, discovering whether or not your influencer marketing program is successful is feasible.

You must start, though, by defining your goals. This will help you determine which metrics to measure. Do you want to increase brand awareness? Track social shares and engagement? Looking for your audience to take a specific action? Looking to track click-through rates and conversions?

When asking influencers to share content, use special tracking links so you can see how many clicks the influencer specifically gets on that content.

Related: A Guide to Working With Instagram Influencers: What to Look For

When it comes to tracking data, the important thing to remember is not to track everything. If you try to gather too much information, you will quickly become overwhelmed and not know what any of it means. But ,by focusing on a few key metrics, you can pinpoint where you're finding success and where you need improvement.

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