Get All Access for $5/mo

4 Tips to Avoid Influencer Marketing Catastrophes The difference between glowing success and epic failures in influencer marketing is a very thin line.

By Jonathan Jadali Edited by Russell Sicklick

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Edward Berthelot | Getty Images

Influencer marketing usually goes one of two ways, it either results in glowing successes where the returns are staggering or it results in epic fails where it takes the company months if not years to recover. As an entrepreneur in the digital marketing space, I have sat front-row-center to both of these outcomes pretty often.

A 2019 survey reported that in the year that about 17% of companies surveyed planned to spend 50% percent of their marketing budget on Influencers in 2020.

The numbers do not lie, there is certainly a positive ROI trend that accompanies Influencer Marketing, and 90% of marketers find the results of Influencer Marketing better than or comparable to most other marketing channels. However, the problem occurs when Influencer Marketing is done wrongly.

Related: 4 Influencer Marketing Secrets Entrepreneurs Need to Know

The mere fact that this system of marketing depends on the viral nature of social media content, means that a bad job can very easily kill a brand's image at a startling speed. These tips are meant to guide marketers to get it right with Influencer Marketing.

Outline your campaign goals

Your campaign goals are the clearest guidelines you can create when choosing to invest in Influencer Marketing. Your Campaign goal may be Gaining Brand Awareness, Gaining Social Media Followers, Content Creation, App Sales/Downloads, or Newsletter/Email Subscribers.

If your goal is Content Creation, for instance, it is far more beneficial to go for an influencer with great content; design skills, photography skills, This is better than settling for influencers with average or poor content because you are seduced by their seemingly wide reach. The reason is simple; people will judge your content by the content regularly posted on the platform it is advertised on.

If your goal is Brand Awareness, for instance, Reach becomes a very important metric to consider. However, how you define Reach and how you identify Relevant Reach is an entirely different conversation, one that you need to have to be able to choose the right influencer.

Choose the right influencer

Kendall Jenner's Pepsi Partnership ad in 2017 was an epic failure and highlights a few of the mistakes marketers make. The ad tried to promote diversity by presenting Pepsi as a symbol of diversity and lending support of the BLM movement.

Their choice of Kendall, a white woman as the Heroine of their ad rightfully enraged a lot of people and caused Pepsi to take down the ad with apologies. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Kendall, she just wasn't the right fit.

The major metrics you must consider when choosing an Influencer are Reach, Engagement Rate, Relevance, Authenticity, Content Quality, Content Frequency, Reliability, Audience Quality, and The Influencer's Values.

Reach speaks to the size of the audience that the influencer has in terms of their followerships, but the power of an Influencer's reach is qualified by their engagement rate.

Related: How Influencer Marketing Took Power, and What the Future Holds

A typical formula for calculating Engagement rate is to survey at least 10 posts, count the likes, shares, and comments on each, divide the total with the number of followers and multiply by 100. The average percentage across 10 posts is the likely engagement rate and can help you decide if the reach is broad enough to you or not.

An Influencer's Relevance and Values are perhaps one of the most important metrics you should consider irrespective of your campaign goals.

It is better put in the Words of Alex Smetana, an Instagram Influencer and Marketing expert, "Just as bad as it would be for a vegan influencer to endorse your meat product, both Influencers and brands should ensure that their values align or risk a massive miscommunication that leads nowhere"

An Ideal Influencer is one that is perceived as an expert in a relevant niche, who has built trust and loyalty amongst their followers and above all, one who engages with their followers in replies, and reactions.

Steer clear from influencer fraud

Many New Marketers to the Influencer Marketing Space are unaware of the rampant fraud that has held back the Influencer marketing Industry. Influencer Fraud is so subtle that in Alex Smetena's words "It shows a semblance of success, excites you with noise, but delivers no real results"

Many of the smaller brands that utilize Influencer marketing cannot afford to run Ads with the Celebrity class. These small brands have to find relevant and lesser-known influencers who have enough reach and authenticity to help them with their campaign goals. This has led many marketers to encounter Influencer fraud and massively ineffective campaigns.

Avoiding these kinds of situations is the key to succeeding in this space. One of the best ways to steer clear from Influencer Fraud is to try to figure out the reason for the influencer's followership. If the Influencer has very few posts compared to their followership that is already a red flag. If the engagement rate is very low, this is a warning sign as well.

Influencer Platforms like Buzzsumo, Pitchbox, and Ninja Outreach have also become like a saving grace for most marketers. These platforms work like "Matchmaking" sites where Marketers can meet Influencers by searching specifically for the categories and features they want.

Many of these platforms do their due diligence and thereby reduce the potential for fraud. While the potential is not eliminated by some of these platforms, it sure whittles down the list for you and enables you to have more clarity in your decision.

Make realistic offers

In 2018, Sunny Co clothing embarked on an Instagram marketing campaign to promote their Baywatch-themed swimsuit edition, The Pamela. Their promotional offer promised swimsuits to everyone who reposted and tagged their handle in the first 24 hours. They didn't anticipate that the ad would go viral with over 30,000 people participating in a few hours!

Needless to say, they couldn't back their offer up. They retracted it, declaring that they had the right to cap the offer. This led to what can rightly be defined as a marketing catastrophe for the brand, as customers raged and many mocked.

While this was not an Influencer Marketing Campaign, brands are still known to make offers through Influencers when advertising via Influencer Marketing. Avoiding events like this is mandatory because they can scar your brand and limit your impact on future campaigns. It is safer to stick to promises you can deliver on.

Influencer Marketing maybe the new fad, but like every shining object, it shouldn't be taken at face value, it should be tested, scrutinized, and evaluated before any brand engages in it. New businesses have died on these streets, there is no reason not to tread carefully.

Jonathan Jadali

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO of Ascend Agency

Jonathan Jadali is an American entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Ascend (a Social Media Marketing and PR agency). Jadali has served hundreds of entrepreneurs and businesses, as well as numerous Fortune 500 companies.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business News

How to Be a Billionaire By 25, According to a College Dropout Turned CEO Worth $1.6 Billion

Austin Russell became the world's youngest self-made billionaire in 2020 at age 25.


Taylor Swift Has a Lucky Number. And She's Not the Only High Performer Who Leans Into Superstitions to Boost Confidence.

Even megastars like Swift need a little extra something to get them in the right mindset when it is game time.


SEO Trends You Need to Be Aware of Right Now, According to a Seasoned Pro

Navigate the future of search engine optimization to elevate your online presence and drive meaningful engagement.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.


These 3 Big Tech Companies Offer 6-Figure Salaries and Easy Interviews — Especially If You Follow This Expert's Advice

There are far more candidates than positions, so being strategic on the job hunt is key.