Even the best influencer marketing campaigns can face unexpected challenges, and yes, our team has had to learn the hard way when encountering several of these issues.
Here’s 12 things that can go wrong with any influencer campaign, and how to avoid them:
Skewed Engagement Rates
Whether an influencer purchases fake followers or purchases likes and comments on each of their posts–yes, there are apps for both of these–an influencer’s account may not be as authoritative as it may initially appear. However, while there are tools for influencers to mislead the average viewer, there are also tools marketers can use to identify the authenticity of an influencer’s account. So, for influencers that have tried to grow their accounts artificially in the past, there are now several strategies brands can use to identify which influencers have an organic following, and which do not.
Pro Tip: Prior to establishing an influencer partnership, identify if each influencers’ account is authentic by checking their engagement rates and running their account through the Follower Health Tool.
Incorrect Shipping Information
One of the most common influencer issues that can delay, or even ruin, influencer partnerships is the issue of influencers providing inaccurate shipping information. Getting the product in the hands of the influencer is one of the most important aspects within an influencer campaign and for some reason, influencers give marketers the wrong shipping information more often than one would think.
Whether the influencer doesn’t provide their full address (i.e. city, state, and zipcode), forgets to include their apartment number, or simply misspells a word, it’s one of the most overlooked steps by both the brand and the influencer.
Pro Tip: As a marketer, be sure to request each influencer’s full address, including their apartment or suite number, and confirm the address with the influencer prior to sending product. If an influencer provides a P.O. address, confirm with the brand that they’re able to ship to a P.O. address, because it’s likely that their products may be too big to ship there.
Unfortunately, there are several things that can go wrong when shipping product, aside from being given the wrong shipping information. Whether it’s a delay in shipment or an unsuccessful delivery due to a signature requirement, it’s the marketer’s responsibility to deliver the correct product to the influencer they are partnering with, in a timely manner.
Pro Tip: Avoid shipping mishaps by timing shipment according to the influencer’s schedule and providing each influencer with the tracking information of their product, outlining the expected delivery date and time. If a signature is required upon delivery, relay this information to the influencer so they can plan ahead of time and ensure that someone is available to receive the package.
Lead Gone Dark
Once product has been sent and delivered to the influencer, the issue of the lead “going dark” arises, meaning the influencer is no longer responsive. Without an influencer agreement outlining the terms of the partnership or a signed contract prior to product delivery, the influencer isn’t held responsible to uphold their side of the agreement and it puts the brand in jeopardy of losing any return of investment.
Related: How to Find the Right Instagram Influencers for Your Brand
Although brands want to believe that every influencer will post as promised, that’s not always the case. If the lead goes dark, the partnership ends up wasting the client’s money and the marketers time trying to coordinate the partnership without any return.
Pro Tip: Create an influencer contract outlining the terms of the partnership and the influencer’s responsibilities prior to sending product. Once the influencer has signed and agreed to the terms, they have a legal responsibility to uphold their side of the agreement. That way, the issue of a lead going dark is less likely to arise, and if it does, legal measures can be taken to protect the brand.
Exceeded Posting Timeline
Once the product is sent, the partnership then becomes a waiting game until the influencer shares their social media post. An issue that can potentially arise here is that influencers may not post within the requested timeframe. This issue is due to a lack of preparation and communication on the marketer’s side, and it can frustrate both the client and the influencer.
Pro Tip: Ensure that the influencer agreement clearly outlines a time frame in which the influencer is required to post on social media. Posting within two weeks of receiving product is a time frame that most influencers can agree to. As a best practice, follow up with the influencer the week the product was expected to deliver to confirm that the influencer received the package and to outline the two-week timeframe in which they are requested to post on their social media networks.
Next, follow up with the influencer during the same week the post is expected to go live as a friendly reminder to ensure that the social media post is scheduled to go live on time.
No Product Featured
Even if posting guidelines and requirements for the influencer were clearly outlined prior to establishing the partnership, it’s still likely that the influencer will miss one of the posting guidelines or leave out a key aspect of the partnership. One of the most commonly ignored posting guideline is product inclusion within the image the influencer shares on their social accounts.
Related: How to Choose the Right Influencer Agency
Although influencers may not see this as a vital aspect of the influencer campaign, it is. By showcasing the product within the social post, it is optimizing brand exposure and familiarizing the influencer’s followers with the brand and its products.
Pro Tip: Upon sending the influencer agreement for the influencer to sign, reinforce the importance of showcasing the brand’s products or packaging within the social post, so this requirement is clear to the influencer and there isn’t any misunderstanding.
One of the most unforeseen issues within an influencer partnership is influencers who brand each of the photos they share. It may be as subtle as their signature on the bottom corner of the page or as obvious as a logo within the middle of their photo. The issue with influencers who post branded imagery on social media is that it defeats the purpose of obtaining imagery for brands to repurpose for their internal marketing efforts. Although the brand is still able to repost branded influencer images, branded influencer images don’t perform as well as images that aren’t branded.
Pro Tip: Upon partnership, ask each influencer if they have an issue with the brand reposting their image without tagging the influencer or giving them credit. If they do, make a note within the influencer contract that specifies that the brand must tag or give credit to the influencer when resharing their image. If the influencer is willing to give the brand copyrights to their images, then the brand is able to use those photos as they please.
Improper Tagging & Brand Mentions
Similarly to posts that lack product inclusion and influencers who brand each of their photos, another missed partnership guideline is when influencers incorrectly tag the brand’s handle or misspell the brand’s name or products within their caption. Although this error doesn’t happen as frequently, it’s still an issue that can happen, especially if it is a smaller brand or if there are other brands with a similar Instagram handle. Typically, this is a mistake that can be easily corrected, but to avoid the back-and-forth hassle, it’s important to ensure that the influencer is familiar with the brand prior to posting.
Pro Tip: Familiarize each influencer with the client’s brand prior to posting! Whether it’s hyperlinking the client’s website within the initial email, sharing their social networks, or sending additional information about the brand along with the product, it’s crucial that the influencer is familiar with the brand, its products or services, and its key messaging. The more familiar the influencer is with the brand, the less likely they are to tag the wrong brand or misspell their name.
This is an issue that most frequently happens within the food, fashion and beauty space, and influencers may not realize the counter effect this has on the partnership. When influencers post photos on social media as result of a brand partnership, that include multiple brands, there is always a chance that one of those brands could be a potential competitor of the client. With food, it could be another ingredient that influencer used within a recipe. With fashion, it could be another accessory added to the outfit that also sells similar products as the client. With beauty, it could be another brand’s packaging within the photo that takes away from the client’s packaging.
Pro Tip: Within the influencer agreement, make it clear that the sponsored post must be a full-feature, meaning the client should be the only brand featured and mentioned within the post. That way, there shouldn’t be an issue with tagged competitors or other competing brands featured within the sponsored social media post.
Each influencer feels differently about giving the brand rights to the content they create as a result of the partnership. Some influencers assume that copyrights to their content comes along with the territory of a sponsored post, and other influencers view copyrights as a separate partnership or contract.
Related: How To Develop an Influencer Outreach Strategy That Converts
An issue that can arise if the marketer or brand isn’t clear upon partnership, is the issue of copyright infringement. In other words, when a brand shares or reposts an influencer’s photo before receiving written consent from the influencer, allowing the brand to share the image.
Pro Tip: To prevent any misunderstanding or issues that can potentially arise down the line, make it clear that the brand is requesting copyrights to the influencer’s content upon partnership. To have it written and agreed to, include it within the influencer agreement, which the influencer signs prior to partnership. That way, there isn’t a grey area between the brand and the influencer and it is clear whether or not the influencer agreed to give the rights to the brand.
Missing Call-To-Action Or UTM Link
The Instagram post almost always seems to overshadow the Instagram story. Influencers tend to solely focus on the Instagram post aspect of the partnership and forget about the Instagram story aspect of the partnership. This includes sharing a story featuring the brand’s product packaging, tagging the brand’s handle, including a call-to-action (i.e. “Swipe Up”), and hyperlinking the custom UTM link. Whether the influencer forgets one of these components or forgets to post the story altogether, it’s important to prepare for the unexpected.
Pro Tip: Stress the importance of the Instagram story aspect of the partnership and explain how the brand uses the UTM link to monitor any traffic the influencer’s story drives back to their website. Also, when following up with the influencer, remind them to reference the terms of the partnership prior to posting and request that they send the link to their post and a screenshot of their story.
Deleted Sponsored Posts
One of the most unexpected issues that can arise within an influencer partnership is if the influencer deletes the social media post they initially shared as a result of the partnership. Although a majority of a social post’s engagement is highest during the first 24-48 hours, it’s still beneficial to have the post live on that influencer’s feed because it allows their followers to use it as a reference or revisit the post if needed. By deleting the sponsored post, influencers are sneakily trying to clean up their feed and remove all past sponsored content.
Pro Tip: To avoid this issue, protect the client’s brand by adding a note within the influencer agreement stating that if the influencer deletes the social media post within a certain timeframe, the influencer is legally responsible for either reposting the original post or posting a new post, that follows the posting guidelines. With this clearly written within the contract, influencers will be less likely to delete their sponsored posts.