Dispelling the 7 Most Common Myths and Misconceptions About Influencer Marketing

Opinion: Many brands get distracted by creators with large followings

Are you guilty of believing any of these misconceptions about influencer marketing? Weedezign/iStock

Our team at #paid has been trailblazing the industry with the rise of influencer marketing. We believe that social media has led to our current age of the creator—the social media creator who can turn their passion and talents into one’s true calling.

We see our role as experts in influencer marketing as a way to democratize access to creative talent. This allows marketers the ability to bring their brand to life in a human way. The creators can turn their passion into a living, and their audiences can continue to be entertained every day by awe-inspiring content.

I would like to take a moment to dispel the seven most common misconceptions about influencer marketing that we get from marketers:

  1. Choosing creators based on the size of their following: Many marketers get distracted by creators with large followings and neglect to consider other factors when choosing which creators to collaborate with. Important factors include: aligning a creator’s audience demographics with the brand target market, ensuring that the product matches with the creator’s content and creating the right creator-brand alignment.
  2. Fake followers and engagements are unavoidable: Not true—there are a lot of people with large followings, but discerning whether their following is legit or if they’ve bought followers or likes requires marketers to examine their follower and engagement growth. Our product at #paid is able to analyze a series of metrics including tracking anomalies in these growth metrics. Normal scenarios should see a linear growth with little to no outliers; high variance should raise suspicions.
  3. The return on investment of influencer marketing can’t be measured: Influencer marketing can be used in many parts of the path-to-purchase journey, but its sweet spot is driving consideration and purchase intent. In terms of attributing the value and impact of influencer marketing, we need to think about what brand marketing metrics make sense. We can go beyond just the total number of people we reach or that engage with our sponsored collaborations. Our clients receive a sentiment analysis to see how the audience reacts and link in bio clicks, video completions, online conversions, or other metrics that relate to what the campaign goals are. At a campaign level, marketers are running brand and sales lift studies with external research partners like Nielsen.
  4. You can get a good sense of influencer marketing by working with a few influencers: Would you test the efficacy of television by seeing the effects of a couple of commercials on an off-primetime show? What about running a $100 Google AdWords campaign? Without enough data and scale to test these campaigns, you won’t develop enough insights to make an informed decision on whether it worked or not. There are rare instances of bad experiences between brands and creators: Don’t let one-off situations ruin a potentially valuable thing.
  5. Going back to the same creators over and over: Working with a lot of agencies—traditional public relations or talent agencies—can often lead to the conditions where you use a limited talent roster on an ongoing basis. While continuous ambassadorships have a strong use case, healthy influencer marketing programs should include new creators who bring different, fresh audiences. In the same way that we frequency-cap our ads to make sure that we don’t oversaturate our campaigns, we don’t want to oversaturate our message with the same creators too often.
  6. Influencer marketing is only for consumer brands: Consumer brands—particularly fashion and beauty brands—were the early adopters of influencer marketing; but almost every category product or service could adopt its principles. Whether you work on consumer packaged goods, retail stores, financial services, automotive or business-to-business, we are all consumers of media and follow our favorite social media creators. How you adopt influencer marketing depends on how you bring each campaign to life. Consumers crave human experiences. As marketers, we need to think about how our brands participate with our consumers’ lives, whether it’s for an everyday consumer brand or a product or service that we use at work.
  7. Paying creators isn’t genuine: By now, we should all understand that creators need to get paid. They bring value to our brands and deserve to get compensated accordingly. With Federal Trade Commission mandatory disclosure rules firmly set and enforced, all content with a material exchange between creators and brands must be disclosed, but that shouldn’t take away from the message itself. Good creators only work with brands that authentically match their feeds and would be useful to their audiences—they should be proud that a brand wants to work with them and legitimize them as a tastemaker and true expert. To embed the disclosures in a seamless way, creators can start their caption with “Super excited to be #paid and work with Brand X …” in order to make the requirements seem more natural and honest with their audience. In fact, we believe that honesty and authenticity are so important that we named our company in line with one of the originally recommended hashtags from the FTC: #paid.

We hope you found these common misconceptions about influencer marketing helpful and that it helps get you on the journey to producing incredible content for your brand. Together, we can change marketing for the better and work with world-class talent to bring our brands to life in a human way.

Richard Wong is vice president of marketing and creator relations at influencer marketing platform #paid.