Influencer marketing (although I don’t like calling it that and prefer content creator) is at an all-time high. According to Forbes, in 2019, influencer marketing on Instagram alone is expected to hit $2.38 billion. Say WHAT? It is a HUGE market, and the benefits are endless; from audience engagement to driving traffic and sales to your brand, authentic content that audiences can relate to, lifetime exposure with evergreen blog content… But are you treating bloggers the right way? And is your blogger etiquette lacking?
Whether you have been collaborating with bloggers for a while or just launched a brand, it is essential to understand even in the blogging world there are professional guidelines and etiquettes to follow. Bloggers are not JUST bloggers. Here are some top influencer marketing mistakes to avoid or mistakes you are making when working with Bloggers, Influencers, Content Creators, whatever you may want to call it.
10 Mistakes Brands Make With Influencer Marketing
#1 Asking A Blogger To Email You To Collaborate
If you are a brand wanting to work with a blogger, EMAIL THEM! A simple mistake you may be making when working with bloggers, is how you reach out to them. Don’t leave a comment on her latest IG static post or DMs asking her to email you at (insert your brand email here) if she is interested to work with you. Say what now? So, you want to work together, but want the blogger to initiate communication about a collaboration she has no idea what is about? The right way to approach a blogger is for YOU, the brand, to email the blogger informing her about your brand, what collaboration you had in mind, budget etc. Asking the blogger to make the first email contact is unprofessional and seems spammy. If you are looking for an email or contact, totally understandable, a DM is the way to go, but most bloggers have their email address on their Instagram account, also on their blog. It takes 3 extra minutes to do the digging, but it looks much more professional.
#2 Promising False Future Collaborations
You don’t want to pay a blogger for an upcoming campaign, so you approach them to do an unpaid collaboration or lower her rates, with the promise to include her in future paid collaborations. Please, do not use the tactic “the brand has future paid campaigns coming up” to entice a blogger to do free work. And if you do, remember to include them in your list of bloggers to work in your upcoming paid campaigns. This way, not only you are keeping your promise and you seem like a reliable brand, but most importantly you are valuing the blogger that worked for free when you had zero budget or so you said.
#3 Asking A Blogger To Do a Test Post
You want to work with a content creator you have not worked with before, do not want to pay her, but want her to create content for you. So you ask her to do a test post for the brand. If you require a blogger to do a test post, because you are not sure about the content she will produce, or how her audience will respond then you shouldn’t be reaching out to her in the first place. Do your research on the blogger you want to participate in your campaign before you reach out. Does she fit with your brand, does she produce quality work, how is her engagement? There is no such thing as testing the waters. You either want to work with a blogger or you don’t.
#4 Thinking Free Work Is Good for Your Brand
Apart from the obvious reasons why you should never ask a blogger to do a post for free, have you ever heard the expression, “You get what you pay for!? You better believe this applies here. Do you want quality work, with set deadlines and deliverables, approved content? Then you better have a budget. Sponsored content will always be on the blogger’s list of priority posts to complete first. Free posts? The blogger will get to it when she gets to it. To be fair, some brands don’t care and prefer quantity over quality, so evaluate where you stand with your brand. Some bloggers will do free work, especially new bloggers who want to grow their audience and create content. I also devote a percentage of my business to unpaid posts Just always keep in mind, that a blogger promoting your brand is very similar to traditional advertising. Whoever is promoting your brand is also representing your brand, and the content created is an extension of your brand. Choose wisely, and don’t make the mistake to assume all exposure is good exposure.
#5 Inquiring About Rates When You Already Have a Set Rate In Mind
Time is money! You are launching an influencer campaign, but have a limited budget. There is no point in asking a blogger for her rates if you already know your campaign budget is limited to x $$ amount. Instead of going back and forth in emails, lowballing, and trying to pay the least amount possible, inform the blogger you have a low budget right off the bat and inquire if she is willing to accommodate her rates to reflect your budget.
#6 Expect Free Promotion With Ridiculous Deliverables
No one is denying the fact that certain brands simply do not have a huge marketing budget or one at all. We all know this. If you are looking for free promotion you should ask for deliverables that are reasonable. For example, don’t ask to gift a blogger with a mascara in exchange for 3 Instagram posts, 3 IG Stories and a blog post. Below are two ways you can approach bloggers if they would be open to an unpaid collaboration. Don’t send a detailed brief with deliverables only to end your email with “We have no budget for this”.
Send an email asking this instead:
“Do you accept gifted products in exchange for reviews?”
“We are a small brand working with a very low budget, are you open to customizing your existing collaboration rates?”
Regardless, instead of thinking what can I get from this blogger RIGHT NOW change your mindset to long-term thinking. Your first point of contact with a blogger should be about introducing your brand to them. Send them a product to try with no expectations, don’t pressure them about posting, and most importantly, don’t get upset if they don’t share your brand on their social media. Ask nothing in return. Chances are if you have an amazing product, the blogger will eventually share with their audience regardless. I always share with my readers products I have tried and loved. I have also been sent products, that I didn’t love, so I never promoted. These days brands are trying to get as much free exposure as they can, which I get, but what bloggers value are brands they can trust, brands that want to build a real relationship with them.
#7 Not Building Long -Term Relationships with Content Creators
For me, this is the number one and most frequent mistake brands make. When you are working with an influencer on a campaign, you should never see it as a one-time partnership. The continuous support from both the blogger and the brand in a collaborative way illustrates to the blogger’s audience a genuine love for your brand’s products. In the end, authentic partnerships are what lead to conversions. Audiences are becoming smarter and smarter. When they see long-term partnerships, they trust your brand. Building a long-term relationship does not necessarily have to always be a paid partnership. It is as simple as including the blogger on your next event for the brand’s product launch or sending them samples of your products, keeping in touch. Instead of a transactional approach take a relational approach.
#8 Not Giving the Blogger Enough Time To Create The Content
Everyone is working with tight deadlines, especially brands, but so is the blogger you are working with. Another mistake brands make when working with a blogger, is not taking into consideration the blogger has to deal with multiple sponsorships at the same time, an editorial calendar she follows, events to attend, and scheduling time to create her own content. Be mindful to give enough time for the content to be created. The saying “
I want it, and I want it now!” is not the best approach to your campaign. Quality content is not produced overnight, and your brand wants exactly that. Quality content.
#9 Your Brand Wants to Control Everything
I worked with a brand once that controlled everything; from how many photos and which photos I could use on a blog post, to completely changing the wording of my IG caption, to even telling me I can’t use emojis. Audiences are smart. They know when something is the blogger’s voice and when something is inauthentic. The blogger knows her audience better than your brand does. As a brand, you do want to have guidelines and requirements, but let the blogger have the creative freedom to create content that resonates with her audience, NOT your audience! This way your brand can get the engagement and traction it needs from new audiences. The blogger knows their audience the best, so trust and listen to their feedback.
#10 Last Minute Invites Are NOT OK
You invited all the favourite bloggers on your media list to attend your event, and now some bloggers can’t make it, so you are going to invite your 2nd choice guests. Bloggers are not dumb. They know the difference between an invite and a pity invite. Let’s define Pity Invite: Usually given 1-2 days before an event to a person that didn’t make the cut in the first place, but now due to unforeseen circumstances is invited. Inviting someone a day before your event is insulting. Bloggers know they are being invited to make up the numbers. Or if you ARE going to do that, be honest about it. Bloggers love honesty. Also, don’t forward the invite with the typical “Just wanted to follow up on the invite we sent you last week.” Brands use that tactic way too often, and bloggers know it! You never sent that email to me!
If you are a brand or a PR company, keep these top 10 influencer marketing mistakes in mind when reaching out to bloggers or thinking of working with them. Fostering relationships is so important in this industry. Always think beyond the scope of a campaign, because it is not just about engagement numbers and rates. Think about your brand, the type of content you want circulating on social media representing your brand, and think about the character your brand is conveying when you are communicating with bloggers. Also, treat bloggers with respect. Bloggers talk, and the last thing you want is building a bad reputation for your brand.