THE BLOG

217 Influencers & Experts Tell Me Their Worst Influencer Marketing Mistake (Part 3)

04/20/2016 02:04 pm ET

You can find part 1 and part 2 here.

These are just the answers from 217 influencers and experts which originally appeared in this ultimate guide to influencer marketing.

Not realizing what's worth following. The human mind is designed to follow people, not businesses. I made the mistake of building a faceless brand for many years. But, as I've grown in my confidence, I now understand the power my story, my family, and my values bring to my mission. People crave authenticity. Your manufactured brand will never outpace you in that race.

My biggest mistake was not building my email list. Once I started focusing on getting more email subscribers (and sending them good stuff), my revenue literally tripled in one year.

Brian Dean (@backlinko) backlinko.com

I made a mistake once and answered a question from an influencer and suggested my product as an added value to the influencer and got back a big no thanks. It has to be added value we are providing without any sales pitch. Any wiff of a sales angle and the influencer is turned off. I have seen others do this in their regular marketing, when we talk about ourselves and lose sight of the problem that is being solved. It is like a lead balloon, falls with a big thud.

My biggest mistake is consistency. You have to allocate and dedicate time and resources to consistently follow, participate and callout with influencers.

Also contacting the influencer before showing some interaction can also be a buzz kill. influencers know they have the eye of the people and they are careful with their connections. They want to make sure you care and are going to add value to the community. The contact has to be focused on what you can do for them and the community (think about what they want and are trying to achieve) and what value you will provide to the overall community.

Penny Zenker (@pennyzenker) p10app.com

I see two glaring errors that are often made in influencer marketing. The first is not taking time to build value and a relationship prior to approaching influencers. Just like in "real life" you don't jump right into a new friendship asking for favors. You give first, and develop mutual respect and understanding. The other error I see is marketers spending time in the wrong location - guest posting, or soliciting influencer support within a sphere that is not reaching their own ideal audience. This amounts to wasted time and energy on the part of all involved.

The biggest mistake I see people make in influencer marketing is the ones that can easily be prevented. They focus more on trying to scale their influencer outreach than personalizing it. This means they don't send personalized emails, don't take the time to research and understand their influencers and their audiences. The focus of your influencer outreach should be to make it a win for the influencer, a win for their audience and a win for you.

Joel Widmer (@jwidmer) fluxedigitalmarketing.com

When I received copies of my first published book I thought it would be a great idea to send a copy to all the 20 or so people I mentioned in the back as being influential to me. I simply sent them the book and asked if they'd review it or share with their community. To say that was lame would be an understatement as I made no attempt to build up rapport or to even tell them why I thought they and their followers would benefit. In hindsight it's highly embarrassing and rather unsurprisingly, none of the people replied!

Tim Brownson www.adaringadventure.com

I'd say, the biggest mistake is trying to connect with Influencer without having researched on them. These people are usually busy: if you want to succeed you have to emerge from the crowd when outreaching: knowing their hobbies, their passions, citing their articles or quotes, is essential. But, people don't get it and keep sending emails that will be ignored.

Giuseppe Pastore (Zen2Seo) giuseppepastore.com

The biggest mistake I've made is assuming that relatively obscure information is only relevant to people interested in my niche. But, when I did outreach for my post on The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci, it quickly became one of my most popular and highly shared posts, even in the highly specific memory improvement niche. I now know that this kind of information has wider appeal amongst influencers than I originally thought.

Anthony Metivier (@AnthonyMetivier) magneticmemorymethod.com

Biggest mistakes I've seen others make are being irrelevant and giving up too early. They contact someone one time, never hear back and give up on it. Or they send spam messages which are not targeted and not relevant at all. You need to be in it for the long run. It takes time to build a name for yourself and establish relationships with influencers. Second, you need to be relevant, targeted and provide something unique and of value to the person you are contacting. There's no point in contacting an influencer about something they see all the time, or something don't care about and have no interest in.

Marko Saric (@markosaric) howtomakemyblog.com

When doing cold influencer outreach, the biggest mistake I have seen is not proofing your email, tweet, etc before sending it. This is more than likely the first impression someone sees of you, so make it count.

Chris Makara (@chrismakara) chrismakara.com

The biggest mistake I see people make in influencer marketing is failing to establish credibility. This is vital as you've maybe 10 seconds to convince the influencer to even read your request. "Warm" outreach is best, where you already have a relationship with the influencer through Twitter and/or other social networks. But if you don't have that, then name-drop--mention other influencers you've worked with or acquaintances you have in common--or cite well-known brands you've with, or link to A-list blogs or journals where you've been published.

Tom Pick (@TomPick) webbiquity.com

My biggest mistake was trying to get personal/chummy too fast, it really turns someone off. You really have to build some rapport first and make the relationship worth their while.

Mary Green (@marygreenim) mary-green.com

When I first got started, I made the mistake of acting like a fangirl when meeting big name bloggers I admired. If you can't respect yourself and your work enough to act like a peer, the chances of them promoting your work is almost zero.

Jennifer Gresham Founder of everydaybright.com. You can find her on Facebook.

There are two big mistakes made with Influencer Marketing I've seen in coaching clients to gain more influence and authority publishing content online. First, they have terrible POSITIONING. The are positioning their approach as my good friend Kimanzi says, "Chasing Influencers". You should not be viewed as "chasing" but rather as an advocate or partner. Secondly, they don't consider their ALIGNMENT. Alignment means you are in line with the influencer's objectives. We've featured multiple best-selling authors as a guest on my podcast because I reached out with the message that I wanted to help them promote their book, rather than leading with my own motivations. Keep your positioning and alignment correct and you'll develop great partnerships and many new friendships.

Jeremy C. Jones (@jonesima) Self Publishing Expert and Author Advocate. You can find him on Facebook.

I approached influencers as if I needed them. They were the stars, I was the wannabe. Mistake. I soon realized, "Hey, I'm an influencer, too." In fact, they needed me as much as I needed them. Symbiosis.

Donna Merrill donnamerrilltribe.com

I picked a fight with a really well known person in the legal industry. I did this shortly after starting my law firm internet marketing agency, NiftyLaw. Little did I know he sat on a lot of conference committees and was well connected. Even though I disagreed with him I am not sure I fully understood the potential effects it would have. Lesson learned: play nice...always.

Mike Ramsey (@MikeRamsey) Nifty Marketing

A common one would be to get the influencers involved and then once the post is all finished don't follow through with the outreach the people featured or the wider community to get the post the attention it needs.

You need to follow up with everyone featured via email or Twitter (depending on if you want links or shares) to get them telling their audience about it.

You also need to follow up with other names not featured to get them sharing it - people love to share this sort of content.

You also have to make it SUPER easy for the influencer to share like including a click to tweet link in the email so all they have to do is click it to share to Twitter, this makes a huge difference than just asking "please share on Twitter" as they have to go log in and actually share it.

And even if that IS their intention... they might forget or get distracted.

So have the click to tweets, the embedded links, the link to upvote on Inbound or whatever you want to achieve in the email for them.

Stuart Walker Nichehacks.com

a) Not getting to know what's important to the influencer

b) Not being clear on what you want the influencer to do

c) Thinking that influencers alone can help

d) Not saying thank you and building at least a loose relationship with the influencer

Ramon Ray (@ramonray) and smarthustle.com

The biggest mistake is putting all the burden of success on the influencer - as if success simply takes securing your market's influencer. Don't forget the "marketing" in "influencer marketing." Plan entire campaigns around that influencer. You can't just call it a day when Jay Baer has blurbed your book. Now you need to market that blurb - and, better yet, involve Baer in a campaign.

Joanna Wiebe (@copyhackers) Creator of Copy Hackers and Airstory

Fully trusting someone or depending solely on one person is the greatest mistake I have ever made. The person's confidence made me trust him, but on the other side, due to the work pressure (I assume) he could not fulfill the task I entrusted him with. Ultimately, that lead me to forgo some of the prestigious projects at hand.

I'm sure he didn't do this on purpose, but my leniency led him to take it in an easy way. Though I have told him about its seriousness and the projects on hand, but he could not deliver it on time.

I've learned a lesson from this incident... that one should not depend on only one person for everything since he or she may have other things to deliver on deadline. Sometimes a constant vigil or follow up may bring results on time, but most of the time, it may irritate the other side and get things twisted.

Philip Verghese 'Ariel pvariel.com (@PVAriel)

My biggest mistake is failing to keep up with my connections and letting it go stale. I meet people and hang out at conferences and we get along well... then I get back in my office and just go back to it. If you don't take the time to nurture those relationships and keep up the communication, then it becomes little more than a casual "hey" when you pass in the halls at a conference... and not much more.

David Risley blogmarketingacademy.com

Not a clear mistake but just generally I could have been better at nurturing relationships. I've had some good support from influencers in the past but the guys who really do it well are constantly nurturing relationships with influencers on a daily basis. I haven't really done that and I would like to get better at that. I think if you can prove yourself useful to influencers on a regular basis, they are much more likely to support you.

Dan Norris (@thedannorris) 7daystartup.com

The biggest influencer marketing mistake which I see others making (and I was probably guilty of myself some years back) is not accepting and learning from failure. The harsh reality of the matter is that most influencers don't care about the contents of 99% of pitches. To get to the level of being regarded as an 'influencer' an individual has had success in one or more ways and, unfortunately, this means they're busy people.

If you read ten guides on 'how to do influencer marketing right' they'll all tell you that you need to carefully identify your influencers, justify why they should care about what you have to say and make them feel special. In reality, that's often not enough. Most 'influencers' are busy people and sometimes absolutely nothing is enough to gain their attention. That doesn't always mean to say you approached in the wrong way, sometimes simply that you reached out at the wrong time.

As such, especially in the early days of building relationships with influencers, failure is common. That is, failure in the form of no responses. The mistake many make, however, is to give up. There's no denying how powerful influencer marketing is, however the reality is that it takes time to get right and even then, there's no guarantees of success. The real recipe for success is simply dedication. Stick at it, continue doing things which are likely to garner an influencer's attention and before long, that success will come.

James Brockbank is Managing Director of Digitaloft, a specialist team of results driven content marketers situated in the North West of the UK. You can find him on twitter @BrockbankJames.

One of the biggest mistake marketers do when they run Influencer marketing campaigns is not to track and monitor the performances. An Instagram influencer campaign can be monitored with tracking links or hashtags (if you don't use link) It's also important to identify the best influencers based on your industry or niche. The narrow it is the better your camping will perform. I've already tested some Snapchat influencer campaigns and tracking is crucial.

Stefano Mongardi The Web-Mate (Snapchat: stemonga)

The biggest mistake I ever made in Influencer Marketing was to think I could build a business by creating content for everyone. Only once I learned to focus on a target audience did I finally see results.

John Meese (@JohnRMeese) johnmeese.me

If you want to be well known and be an effective influencer, it's important to be known as an expert in a particular area. Don't just talk about any topic that comes up, focus on one particular area. This will usually be whatever your main business focuses on (in my case, buying/selling websites). When I first started out, I used to try be an expert on everything and pretended to know about every subject. While it's helpful to have a practical understanding of all areas of business, you can't be an expert at everything. Keeping focus means you are more likely to be recognised as the "go to guy/girl" in your niche.

Thomas Smale feinternational.com

Biggest mistake I've made is not taking a consistent approach to the content I create for my own platform. If you're too busy actually running your company instead of working on your personal brand I think it's important to pick one medium and stick to that consistently whether that's blogging, podcasting, youtube or something else - being consistent is key and I've failed there but working to correct.

Chris Guthrie (@ChrisGuthrie) UpFuel.com

The biggest mistake is that many people are claiming that they're influencers in a topic or field that they really don't have experience in. No joke, I met a life coach who was 22 years old last week. Is it just me or does that seem a bit ridiculous? How is a 22 year old person with hardly any career experience really be a life coach to people? In order to be a true influencer you need to live, eat, breathe and sleep your craft and be genuinely helping/teaching others by mostly giving your stuff away for free.

Greg Hickman (@gjhickman) system.ly

At pitchanything.com, we've seen more than 1,000 marketers and entrepreneurs ask for help. Today, these young entrepreneurs are losing the art of a compelling story, because they've been taught to A/B split test messaging, and "the audience will choose right marketing message." Yes, this A/B testing does work, to a degree, but in the end you'll find, all your messaging will end up in "get rich quick" -territory, which might drive traffic and revenue, but won't communicate brand quality. Testing is good, but don't give up on a good story that is authentic and connected to your brand, just to drive some extra traffic.

Oren Klaff (@pitchanything)

The biggest mistake I see with influencer marketing is around positioning. People don't position themselves correctly as an influencer. Instead, they need to position themselves to the market they want to work with directly.

John McIntyre reengager.com (@johnmcintyre_)

The biggest mistake I made was not taking a strong position on something. In the real world, listening to people and considering their points of view is the best way to grow. But, to influence people online, you need to take strong positions.

Andrew Warner (@andrewwarner) mixergy.com

The biggest mistake that influencers make is that they try to be liked by everyone. They're afraid of being polarizing, and tone their message down to be "all things to all people", when they shouldn't be holding back. The best influencers are those who can defend strong opinions, which makes them more influential at the end of the day!

Marc Mawhinney (@marcmawhinney) naturalborncoaches.com

Displaying a self-orientation by constantly selling "why you should select me" instead of selling why you should change.

Anthony Iannarino (@iannarino) thesalesblog.com

The biggest mistake anyone can make as an influencer is to believe their own hype and sell out thinking that their followers will simply become obedient, compliant consumers. Being an influencer means you are there to serve. You become the central node in an extended social network that runs on trust. You can never betray that trust, even when you use your elevated position within the network to market. Integrity is key and so is passion and the need to keep things real. There are countless examples of influencers who built up a popular profile on social networks only to see it crash and burn because they failed to grasp this simple truth.

David Amerland davidamerland.com (@davidamerland)

The biggest mistake I see people make is focusing on influencing rather than connecting and/or offering valuable content. The real reward comes from establishing a relationship. Influencing is simply a natural by-product. Here are a couple of annoying things that turn me off (and probably other people): 1) Automatic thank you's sent from a service. (they're not personal); and 2) when someone I don't know pings me through social media asking, "How can I help you?" (a hollow offer)

Jesse Lyn Stoner (@jesselynstoner) seapointcenter.com

I was excited when I finally landed my first big guest post on a MAJOR blog. I was hoping this would really help me connect with the owner! BUT...I learned I was making a gaffe by replying to every comment I got, which is considered 'comment-stuffing' or a bald attempt to up your comment count, just to get a bigger number. Feedback through the grapevine was that I was 'grandstanding' and had a swelled head. Yow! Obviously, I stopped answering every single comment, but I never did end up building much of a relationship with that particular influencer.

Carol Tice (@ticewrites) makealivingwriting.com

Biggest mistake I see others make is treating people on the other side (visitors, clients, and customers) like numbers or statistics, rather than like real life human beings. The reason, of course, is that it doesn't scale...and that's exactly why it matters.

Tom Morkes (@tmorkes) tommorkes.com

Too often I see people forget to make their messaging all about the individual they are reaching. Focus more on the "Why" and the "Purpose" of YOUR target and it will lead to more results for YOU. Remember, it's not about YOU. It's about the client.

Ben Newman (@continuedfight) bennewman.net

Placing yourself as an authority without identifying your core audience, niche, and genre are the biggest mistakes I am seeing in the industry these days. For the first 2 years I blogged in the dark (without identifying my audience's need, passion and interest), but once I knew the ingredients, people started recognizing my blog.

Kulwant Nagi (@kulwantnagi) bloggingcage.com

The biggest mistake I've ever made in influencer marketing is not understanding my audience and fan base inside out.

Erik Qualman (@equalman) www.equalman.com

200 pages. Then 90 pages. Then 59 pages. When I started out writing books and courses, I was under the impression that you needed at least 200 pages in a book. When I wrote 90 pages, I'd be a little nervous. The last course we had, I wrote just 59 pages--and clients ended up with a skill, instead of more information. My mistake was assuming that clients wanted bulk, and that's the last thing they need. What they really want is the shortest route to a skill. If your books and courses are getting thicker (with dozens of bonuses), you're making a big mistake.Clients want results, not more information.

Sean D'Souza www.psychotactics.com (iTunes) (Stitcher)

I did not set clear expectations at the onset of my first influencer campaign (what exactly I was providing them, niche audience that was being targeted, etc), and that affected communication between myself and a pretty larger and influential company. In the end my influencer campaign sounded more 'canned' than providing an honest review and recommendation to purchase their product and it did not have a lot of readership. It flopped and the company has not worked with me since then. I learned a valuable lesson about setting expectations and clear communication before you start an influencer campaign.

Chantal Bechervaise (@cbechervaise) takeitpersonelly.com

The biggest mistake I've seen a lot of other brands or affiliate marketers (as bloggers), is to promote unethical or questionable offers just to make a quick buck. In the world of online marketing (and in life), it takes years to build up a trusted reputation. The reason why this is so common in the world of online marketing, is that sometimes you can make a quick buck by promoting something scammy. Bottom line... always think about what you do and promote online before doing it.

Zac Johnson of zacjohnson.com

Accepting irrelevant campaigns. It's in the influencers interest to stick with their niche. Not just for respecting the fans and followers, but also for maintaining integrity.

Erik Emanuelli (@ErikEmanuelli) nopassiveincome.com

Lack of authenticity. People plugging products that they clearly don't use and/or like. Always shines through.

Niklas Laninge, a psychologist running the edtech startup Daily Bits Of (@dailybitsof)

The biggest mistake I've seen many influencers make (especially on Instagram) is promoting products and services that don't align with your existing platform. For example, a fitness influencer promoting a product that has nothing to do with fitness (like financial). It's important to know your audience's demographic and whether they align with your current platform. Don't just be a frickin' pitchman/woman, give real value and your audience will LOVE you!

Ebong Eka @EbongEka (twitter, snapchat, instagram [every dang social platform]) EKAnomics.com & EbongEka.com

Pestering a speaker at an event after they have just spoken - bad timing. Not researching speakers and analysts at an event beforehand. Adding comments to blogs that are blatantly selling with littler regard to blog content.

The biggest mistake I've seen others make in influencer marketing is not investing time in content creation. Some people believe that they have to share their own blog posts exclusively in order to build thought leadership, which is simply not true. Successful influencers share a healthy balance of relevant third party content mixed in with their own content.

Michael Cheng @michaelhsc, cofounder of snip.ly

I think there's a fine line between promoting your own products and services and being overly promotional. I'm sure I flirted with the latter, especially earlier on in my career. But, the 80/20 rule can be used here too - promote other people's content 80% of the time and your own 20% of the time (I could still get better at this I bet! ;-)

Gina Horkey, (@HorkeyHandBook) horkeyhandbook.com

The biggest mistake I see others make in influencer marketing is not taking the time to be authentic in their communications. People see right through that canned, fake stuff! I teach thought leaders to engage authentically when they send emails, respond on social media, and prepare content to post online. This isn't difficult--it means slowing down and sending a genuine message, tweet, or blog post. It means being a resource for others. And above all, it means making your communication personal, so the person on the other side feels valued.

Shannon Hernandez www.thewritingwhisperer.com @writingwhisper

The biggest mistake I made was focusing on building a following but not converting the following to my email list. I have 280,000 followers on Facebook, but now my access to them is controlled by Facebook, and I need to pay to play. Had I converted them to my email list I would have access to them on my terms and not Facebook's.

Gordon Tredgold www.gordontredgold.com @gordontredgold

Near to me the biggest mistake most rising influence marketers make is "Starting without an incentive". When you don't have anything to give in exchange of an email, your email list will take time to grow. It's better to create an incentive before stepping into the industry. It's not compulsory to create a really giant incentive, you can just start with a short e-book. As soon as you start giving an incentive in exchange for an e-mail... you'll boost your email list and your business.

Umair Akram (@iclicknetworks) mytechmag.com

Someone once added me to a Facebook group, and although mildly annoyed, I followed along with the postings. A few weeks later, the same person who added me to a Facebook group (or so I thought) posted about how annoying it was to be added to Facebook groups without being added to them. For some reason, although I knew better, I responded by saying, "Isn't that the same thing you did to me?" My intention was to be helpful by letting him know that perhaps these people didn't realize they were adding people to groups and assumed they were getting requests to join. Instead, it made me look like a troll. The moral of the story, if you're thinking something you're about to post on social media could be misinterpreted . . . don't post it.

Zeb Welborn (@zebwelborn) welbornmedia.com

Never generate traffic through negativity, personal attacks, or media stunts. That's because people will pay attention out of curiosity, but they only buy from people they respect. Getting attention by raising a ruckus may generate short term interest, but it hurts your long term business. Be respectful, and be respectable at all times.

Todd R. Tresidder - Founder and Money Coach at FinancialMentor.Com

Thinking that you can be an influencer overnight. I've helped clients BECOME influencers, it takes a while, and key relationships in your industry help make it faster but it still takes time to build those too! Plan on a solid year to two years of hardcore influencer marketing. (I made this mistake at the beginning too!)

Jaime Tardy (@eventualmillion) eventualmillionaire.com

My 'Influencer' status started when I was recognized by LinkedIn for my work and chosen by them to be one of the world's top 150 Business influencers. My mistake was I was embarrassed by the accolade and reacted slowly to the opportunity. I didn't realize the power it brings, and the reach it gives you. Today I get many requests to undertake keynote speeches all over the globe as a result of being a business influencer.

The biggest lesson I learned as an influencer, is that you can't be an influencer from 9 to 5, and then get back to a "different life". It's not even a job. It's a lifestyle. The way you articulate people around you is so intricate and yet so simple, that, at some point you really have to blend all of the "techniques" and "strategies" into your lifestyle. That's how it works, for me. Influencer marketing is not about what you say, but mostly about who you (really) are.

That's all folks!

Don't forget to check out the full guide if you want to take your business/blog to the next level.

Comments

CONVERSATIONS