5 Rookie Mistakes Biz Owners Make With Influencer Marketing

We've talked about who influencers are and how they can help your biz - now it's time to talk about what NOT to do! I have encountered influencer marketing from all angles. I have been on the side of the brand (from very large to very small) working with influencers to promote their products. I have witnessed many a Facebook group post in blogging communities asking for help and advice regarding sponsored opportunities. And I have been approached as an influencer to talk about certain things on my blog.

Though I have had many experiences in influencer marketing, I have noticed that biz owners are making the same 5 mistakes over and over again. Keep reading to get ahead of the game, stand out from the crowd, and wow the influencers you work with! 🙌

Influencer Marketing 101: 5 Rookie Mistakes Biz Owners Make | Whether you're new to influencer marketing or not, you are more than likely to be making one of these rookie mistakes in your influencer marketing strategy and campaign. I'll walk you through the errors, how to avoid them and what to do instead! Click through to find out more and grab your free guide to my top 10 influencer marketing collaboration ideas!

Asking influencers not to disclose that their content was sponsored

Oh my god - I can't wait to get this one out of the way and off my chest. This is a GIANT no-no in the world of influencer marketing and it's something that most commonly affects bloggers. If you are approaching a blogger to write about your product/service, please do not ask them to refrain from disclosing that their blog post was sponsored. Here's why:

  • This deters bloggers (and other influencers) away - they want to be authentic with their audience. Taking money for a blog post without telling their readers about it feels wrong on so many levels to them. Not only will you get a "no" from them, there's nothing to stop them spreading the word that your influencer deals are a little dodgy!
  • It upsets their audience when they're not transparent - ever seen the comments of a sponsored YouTube video that doesn't state it was sponsored? They're not a pretty sight. An influencer's audience are usually MUCH more supportive of a partnership if they are transparent in their collaborations.
  • It's pretty much against the law - I can only speak for the UK but the ASA (Advertising Standards Agency) are pretty hot on making sure brands and influencers are honest and upfront about their collaborations. However, not many biz owners KNOW this is an issue - in fact, 6 in 10 marketers don't know about these laws and over a third of them that do know choose to ignore it [source]. Literally SMH.

Consumers (blog readers, YouTube viewers, etc) are very familiar with the concept of 'paid for' content and it's something that they expect to see disclosed. If you're asking influencers to be discreet about your partnership, you might as well wave the opportunity goodbye.

Expecting something for free

Ughhh. This is another common mistake that makes me die inside. I'm just gonna go ahead and say what we're all thinking here:

Influencers make a living through sponsored content/affiliate links/advertisements/etc. It is their job to create content for their audience. They get paid to do this everyday. 

#Newsflash - they are not going to be happy (in fact, they should be offended) if you ask them to promote your product for free. Unless you are offering them an amazing-no-way-they-will-turn-this-down experience, like an expenses paid trip to Walt Disney World or a brand new 72" plasma TV, it is extremely unlikely an influencer will say yes to an unpaid opportunity. 

Now, there are some exceptions to the rule here - some smaller influencers will be more than happy to create content in exchange for a free product or service. For example, I have been working with a client to increase exposure for their software and we have been offering bloggers access to the premium software in exchange for a blog post.

However, if you are expecting a YouTuber to create a 10 minute video all about your biz with nothing in return, you're on cloud nine.

Focusing on quantity over quality

I feel like a broken record here but I spent so much time biting my tongue in my agency role because of this. I wanted to run into my client's offices and scream "just because they have millions of followers, it doesn't mean they are the best fit for this project"! 

When you are looking for influencers to collaborate with, you want to be looking to check off the following criteria:

  • The influencer needs to be in the same niche as your biz - you wouldn't approach a BookTuber (a YouTuber that vlogs about book hauls, novel reviews, etc) if your brand were in the video game industry. It's not where your audience are hangin' out and there are much better fits for your biz.
  • They should be getting high engagement rates - more on this in a moment!
  • Your audiences should align - it's not unusual to directly ask an influencer about their audience demographics. In fact, I'd definitely encourage this! You might think a 30+ year old has an audience similar to their age, but the majority of their followers could be in their teens. It's great to get this clarity from the outset before you start to get involved with an influencer.
  • Their content fits in with your brand values - the influencer could be perfect fit for your biz but their content might not exactly fit in with your brand's values. For example, if your biz values authenticity, sincerity, and friendliness, you might not want to collaborate with a prankster vlogger!

I could talk about this criteria for DAYS but then I'd have nothing left to talk about in my e-course 😉


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Looking at the wrong stats

Engagement rates are where it's at my friend! Sure, 1 million YouTube subscribers is AMAZING, 400,000 Instagram followers is GREAT - but their engagement rates might be really shitty.

Someone's engagement rate is basically their FOLLOWING (the number of followers they have on one platform) divided by their ENGAGEMENT (total number of likes, comments, shares, views). 

Take a look at the engagement rates on their last 5 posts; you can look at anything from their blog posts, YouTube videos, Instagram posts, etc. Good engagement rate varies per platform - let me break it down for you!

  • Facebook and Twitter - Anything over 1% is above average.
  • Instagram - IG has much better engagement rates overall. You should be looking for users with at least an average of 6% engagement on each post.
  • YouTube - It's much more specific on YouTube. There should be 5 comments on a video for every 1000 views. A comment:views ratio of 0.5% or higher indicates the YouTuber has good engagement!

Working this out will tell you if they're audience is engaged and interested in what they are posting! 

Top tip: Try to find any other sponsored posts the influencer has done in the past and compare engagement rates on those vs their organic content. This might tell you that their audience doesn't receive advertorial content well.

Adopting an impersonal approach

Some of my greatest successes with influencers in my last job were all down to the fact that I was extremely personable with the people I reached out to. Whether it was their managers or the influencers themselves, I worked hard to remain friendly and, most of the time, informal.

Whilst they expect a professional partnership, it's more than okay to adopt a friendly approach:

  • Take the time to get to know them through their blog/YouTube/Twitter.
  • When you first reach out to them, add a sentence or two asking them about something you noticed in your research (i.e. 'How was your holiday to Canada? It looked amazing on Instagram!" or "P.S. I absolutely LOVED your video about X, it was so hilarious/enlightening/relatable!").
  • Make sure you are being authentic here and not just making shit up for the sake of it - it could come back to bite you in the butt.

If you just send a copy and pasted message to the influencers you are approaching without a personal touch, you might as well send the email straight to your trash can. #RealTalk


So, were you guilty of any of these rookie mistakes? What did you learn and what are your next steps on your influencer marketing journey? I'd love to know in the comments below!


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Zoe Linda

United Kingdom

Zoe is a sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary book nerd that happens to own and run Bookshelf Journey. Her favourite books of all time are the Harry Potter series (duh) along with The Catcher In The Rye and Gone Girl. John Green is her spirit animal and Hogwarts is her home.