14 Tips To Avoid Harmful Influencer Marketing Techniques For

A company’s brand is vital to its success. One way many companies attempt to protect and enhance their brand is by using marketing techniques that will keep the average consumer returning. This could include acquiring an influencer who acts as the face of the company by acting in infomercials, being in ads and using their social platforms to discuss the company’s brand. While this may seem like a good idea to go get an influencer for the brand, companies sometimes struggle with the influencer and their services. Everything from differences in how to present your brand to discrepancies in compensation can be a potential danger to a company.

There are ways to avoid these problems with influencers who are helping. Even if the damage is already done, there are maneuvers that can recover the company’s brand. Brand marketing is important to a business, but it does not have to exceed your budget. 14 members from Forbes Communications Council share their wisdom on how to avoid or to recover from this.

1. Stay True To The Original Audience

The most important factor to consider is why and how to engage with influencer marketing. Are you trying to reach the influencer’s fans, or are you trying to gain loyalty and fans of your own for your brand? Brands should not solely rely on an influencer’s fans. Rather, they should engage with their audience to deepen the relations to build a sustainable momentum. – Hanna Park, bemyfriends

2. Swallow Your Pride And Take The Fall

Two words: Accept responsibility. Instead of the common knee-jerk reaction of the “blame game,” it is better to simply own up to the debacle, regardless of the outcome. “Things happen, mistakes were made, we learn from our mistakes…and we do our best to move on, better for it,” could be the simple yet honest copy that helps all brand-loyalists move on with greater respect of the brand itself. – Boaz Santiago, Legally Remote, PLLC

3. Make Financial Moves That Are Great On Return On Investment

It goes wrong 100% of the time when you overspend on influencers. Celebrities and influencers can command $1 million or more for a post; some brands think that’s the answer to their revenue problem, but the return on investment isn’t always there. Instead, brands should scale influencer programs over time, closely monitoring and managing return on investment. This identifies ways to invest in the most profitable influencer relationships. – Jeremy Foreshew, Ambassador Software

4. Research The Background Of The Influencer

Do your due diligence. Before you engage with any influencer, research how they’ve collaborated with brands in the past. For newer influencers, this “metric” is even more important than engagement or follower count. Chances are, if they’re creating content that feels relevant, fresh and entertaining, the content they create for your brand will be, too. – Melissa Kandel, little word studio


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5. Be 100% Sure The Influencer Enjoys Your Product

Requesting an influencer to review you without being sure if they like your product or service can do some serious harm to your brand image. With the kind of domain authority influencers have, if they write negatively about you, it might potentially ruin your reputation. Incentive-based influencer marketing programs are the safest where you can be sure of being reviewed positively. – Lauren Parr, RepuGen

6. Get On The Same Page As The Influencer When It Comes To Content

Since influencers are given guidelines for content but the content is still intended to be somewhat organic, the messaging can go wrong and be difficult to control. The best way to avoid a message that can be damaging is to be very prescriptive in your guidelines from the beginning. Controlling what the message must include and avoid can help give the influencer boundaries while staying creative. – Victoria Zelefsky, The Menkiti Group

7. Keep The Relationship Between Business and Consumers Accessible

One example of influencer marketing gone wrong is when a crypto coin is marketed by famous influencers but really becomes a cash grab. If a business is stuck in a negative situation it’s important to offer some type of incentive and directly apology to the businesses customers. Opening up chat rooms for possible solutions with customers is vital. They want to be heard more than anything. – Christian Anderson, Lost Boy Entertainment Company

8. Align Everything With What Is Going On In The World

Who can forget the TV ad in which Kendall Jenner stops mid-photoshoot to join a protest, and then offers a can of Pepsi to a police officer, creating peace amongst the crowd and ostensibly unifying the world? Pepsi quickly pulled the ad and issued an apology, but how many executives were involved and how much money was spent in its creation? An in-house DEI expert should have veto authority on every ad in the modern era. – Jackie Lamping, Ava Ventures

9. Have A Plan That Makes Sense For The Influencer

If you are automating your influencer marketing, you still need a good strategy and a realistic goal for it to work. For example, one “teen” cosmetic company was promoting trips as prizes during the pandemic. Neither the target nor the prize were viable, and the strategy fell woefully short of its goal of obtaining emails. Goal and strategic alignment are key. – Mollie Barnett, The SMART Co.

10. Get Someone Who Loves The Brand Just As Much As You

Influencer marketing has always gone wrong when using influencers that aren’t already passionate about the brand. If your business is contacted by an influencer that isn’t already using your product or service, the answer should always be no. Influencers who are passionate about your products are the most authentic. Also, consider bringing a few of those influencers in-house to create content as well. – Scott Stevenson, Blackstone Products (North Atlantic Imports LLC)

11. Keep It In-House And Get Someone Who Is Familiar With The Brand

Companies approach us to help build their executives’ social profiles — to turn them into influencers, if you will. We always ask, “what’s your contingency if that executive leaves,” or worse, joins a competitor. It’s not a showstopper but it requires advance planning. – Andrew Martin, Asia Online Publishing Group

12. Be Sure Your Marketing Is Parallel With Your Company’s Values

Kim Kardashian’s Skims brand was going to be called Kimono, a traditional Japanese dress. She was called out for culturally appropriating Japanese culture. She renamed the brand to Skims, aligning with the company values of inclusivity. Influencer marketing is still a new marketing tactic, and it is important to align your company’s values with them to not make your message sound hypocritical. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

13. Give Your Influencer A Clear Direction Of What To Do

One of my favorites is Scott Disick’s copy/paste mistake on Instagram in which he pasted the company’s instructions directly into the comment, showing everyone that it was actually a marketing ploy. By giving your influencers the creative freedom to comment in their voice, you can avoid the disingenuous feel and eliminate embarrassing copy/paste mistakes. Communicate to ensure they’re on brand. – Asad Kausar, Dabaran

14. Be Aware That This Could Hurt Or Help The Influencer

Matt Damon’s cringeworthy endorsement of Crypto.com was a big influencer fail last month, but the reputation most damaged is Damon’s own. Influencers can share their celebrity with the brands they support, but they can also be dragged down by them. Journalist Jon Schwarz points out that $1,000 of bitcoin the day Matt Damon’s commercial aired would now be worth $375. – Dave Platter, PropTech Group and Juwai IQI