THE BLOG
04/12/2016 05:29 pm ET Updated Apr 11, 2017

215 Influencers & Experts Tell Me Their Worst Influencer Marketing Mistake (Part 1)

It's a warzone out there isn't it?

Over 2 million blog posts published a day...

Millions of products to choose from...

You wonder if you'll ever be able to cut through all the noise.

Besides... you'd need a ton of money to get pushed to the front line right?

Yes, that was true years ago, but not anymore...

Going viral has become more achievable than ever and you can do it with a marketing budget of a six year old.

All you need is a group of influencers promoting your content/products.

Unfortunately, most people fail at this badly...

Good news for you... you've got 215 mistakes to avoid so you can get started on the right track.

If you want the full guide then go to the Influencer Marketing Step by Step Guide.

If you want the raw answers from the influencers, then dive right in...

The biggest mistake I have seen others make when it comes to influencer marketing is to ONLY target the top dogs. Don´t forget to blogger outreach to the rising stars. The rising stars are easier to connect with and they will become the top players in the future. In my first 14 months of blogging I focused on blogger outreaching to the top influencers AND the rising stars. It has led to me getting featured on 158 blogs and being invited to participate in 5 books.

Tor Refsland Creator of How To Blog Outreach Like A Boss

A year and a half ago I didn't know anything about blogging. I had no idea that someone can earn money only. I didn't even know the difference between a website and a blog. I started by helping a friend who has been in the blogosphere for many years.

This guy was making expert roundups as a paid service for other bloggers. In the beginning, I was just doing easy tasks, like research and promotion. In time, I learned all the necessary steps for creating a successful roundup.

The problem was that I reached the point in where I was doing most of the work, but I was receiving only a very small part of the money and no credit for my work (I was doing everything under that guy's name, inclusive posting on his twitter profile, editing posts under his name and even sending emails from his email address).

So, a few months ago I decided to provide my services under my own name. The main challenge that I faced was the fact that nobody knew me. I got to know many bloggers through my work, but they had no idea who I was. So, my biggest mistake in influencer marketing was the fact that I start cold emailing to a few of my contacts.

I read a very good post on blogger outreach and I thought I understood everything. It looked easy: read their post, share them on social media, leave a few comments, after that send them an email. The first email was something positive about their work and the second email was a pitch.

Needless to say that it didn't work out for me. This strategy is great if you are a blogger trying to connect with another blogger, but it doesn't work if you are just a reader, that is trying to sell a service to an influencer.

Fortunately, I came up with a better idea. I made my own blog and the first post that I published was an expert roundup in which 40 Bloggers Talk About Their Biggest Challenge.

This post got a nice number of visitors and shares, and most important, it allowed me to truly connect and build relationships with other bloggers. Shortly after I made this post I started getting clients for my expert roundups.

As for the second part of the question, I can also share a mistake that someone else did towards me. I did a roundup for a client, he seemed satisfied with my work and he asked to make one post for him every week. Putting together an expert roundup requires more time than 7 days, but I was determined to do my job well.

The problem was that, although I agreed with my client that he will pay me half of the money before and the second half after the post is done, I didn't wait. I started working like crazy sending lots of emails and in a few days, I already had about 30 answers for that roundup post.

At that moment, I told my client that I won't continue with any work until he pays me as we agreed. What happened then was completely unexpected: he fired me. He told me that he didn't trust me because he didn't believe I could stand up to his expectations. After many negotiations, he offered me only 25% from what we initially agreed to publish that post that was half done.

I refused him and I sold that roundup to another blogger. I explained her the situation, she understood, I emailed all those experts and I informed them that the post will be published on a different blog. Nobody had any issue with that. So, I sent some more emails and I made it one of the biggest expert roundups on the web. In this roundup 110 Top Bloggers And Entrepreneurs Share Their Most Successful Social Media Action.

When the post was published it was a huge success:

- 118 bloggers were featured*

- 1500+ social shares

- 137 comments

Now, do you believe that my previous client did a big mistake by not trusting me? He only wanted each roundup to have around 20 experts and get just a bit over 50 shares. 2016-04-10-1460321342-8066517-110topbloggers.jpg * the title mentions only 110 bloggers, because I received the last 8 answers after the post was published. I updated the post, but I kept the same title.

Minuca Elena creates expert round-ups that provide quality content and bring huge traffic to her clients you can find her at her minucaelena.com and twitter.

Most people get into the mind frame of trying to optimize their outreach process and hire someone to do it for them. If you really want to build a relationship with an influencer, then you better do it yourself. There is nothing worse than receiving an email from a VA saying so-and-so really likes your website. I'm like, "if he or she really did like my stuff, then they would have reached out to me themselves." Thanks but no thanks.

Dave Chesson Kindlepreneur.com (@DaveChesson)

The biggest mistake I've made in influencer marketing is not doing it sooner! I spent way too long trying to get traffic and readers through other marketing tactics like SEO and social media. When I started connecting with other bloggers and key influencers is when things really turned around for me. The more people I connect with, the more traffic I get. But, even better, I get even more people connecting to me because of the connections I've made.

Corinne Kerston blogger at CorinneKerston.com @corinnekerston

I've certainly made some mistakes of my own, but the biggest mistake that I see being made across the board is approaching Influencer Marketing like it's an advertising medium - one that you can just spam with emails or social mentions and expect results. How many times are influencers bombarded with tweets, asking them to retweet this or that... from people they've never talked to before. There are no real shortcuts to influencer marketing. It's all about creating relationships and opportunities.

Mike Allton The Social Media Hat

My biggest mistake with influencer marketing is jumping in to send emails too quickly. It's important to follow a process and build the relationship and by doing this it takes more time but you get better results. I follow my 6 stage process for influencer marketing which helps a lot.

Ian Cleary (@IanCleary)

Influencer marketing isn't just a one-time campaign - it's an ongoing effort. One has to put time to not only ramp up the relationship, but to maintain it in perpetuity. This takes a plan and a strategy, and you/your team has to build the habit of engaging and adding value, even when there is nothing to talk about. Like many others, I've had times where I haven't heeded this advice, and let key relationships lay fallow.

Zvi Band (@skeevis), Founder/CEO of Contactually

My biggest mistake in Influencer Marketing is to mistaken Influencers as ambassadors to the brands I was serving. Ambassadors are invited but influencers are hired. I have mistaken the number of page views as power of influence. Influencers are meant to be for campaigns and not for long-term social conversation like the ambassadors.

Andrew Chow (@ideasandrew) Andrewchow.sg
Do you start a first date by asking the girl/guy to come home with you? No. It doesn't work. Then why start influencer marketing by asking the girl/guy to give you something? Why would a stranger...
  • Read and review your book?
  • Write a great guest post for you?
  • Give you feedback on your startup idea?
Slow down. Be nice. Give something first. Warm them up. Collaborate on something. Then when you ask for help, they'll be happy to come over spend the night... Take your time and go get 'em, romeo! Andy Crestodina orbitmedia.com (@crestodina)

The biggest mistakes that you'll make in Influencer Marketing are the SHOTS that you didn't take. - It's a twist of Michael Jordan's quote, but I love this because the biggest reason a lot of people (including myself for many years) made was that I didn't even want to send those "outreach emails". I was afraid of sending it and often think about things like, "what if no one responds", or "what if the influencer gets pissed". Too many "what-ifs" would be the biggest mistake of anyone who would do influencer marketing. I recommend that you follow what other people are successfully doing, add your personal twist and flavor to influencer marketing. Then send that "outreach email". What's the worst thing that could happen? You're ignored. Email deleted... But, if the influencer says yes, that's going to open up a lot of opportunities for your brand and business.

Ryan Cruz For no more "what-ifs" in online marketing, visit TrafficSalad and follow Ryan's tweets on @TrafficSalad

When I first started out, I listened to all the wrong people. "Use this email template," they said. I did, and so did countless other marketers. The results went from bad to worse.

Here's why:

Templates are problematic because heavily distributed ones are easy to spot. They also don't help you learn anything about writing great outreach emails.

So what's the solution?

Write emails based on a framework. Distill it down into the essential elements you need to include in each email, then tailor it to the person you're contacting.

When you use a framework, you'll become far better at writing emails that people will want to read, and you'll be more likely to get a positive response.

Adam Connell (@adamjayc) www.adamconnell.me

I think the biggest mistake being made in Influencer marketing is looking only at the influencer, and not at the connection and relationship she/he has with followers. Too often Influencer Marketing is reduced to simple broadcasting of a message. Old marketing was dictation... new marketing is communication. It's time to Change from Convince and Convert to Converse and Convert!

Ted Rubin (@TedRubin) TedRubin.com and ReturnOnRelationship.com

If you want an influencer to share a blog post or help sell your product(s), ask. Most people sit back and hope for an influencer to find their crap. Stop being a panzy and email them. Call them. Tweet them. Being intentional about my influencer networking last year made me more than $40,000 on single product launch (AFTER the 50/50 split), as well as multiple six-figures in client referrals. Dominate intentionally.

Josh Coffy Founder of flightmedia.co on Twitter/IG/Snapchat

My biggest mistake when it comes to influencer marketing is being WAY too late to the party. When I first started my business I spent my time on traditional networking. I didn't know about networking with influencers to reach my audience more quickly and with more impact.

Jessica Sweet (@wishingwellgift) www.wishingwellcoach.com

I wish I had done more of it, more often. Influencer marketing has such a multiplication effect that every time we focus on it, we grow and expand. Yet, as entrepreneurs we like to make things hard on ourselves and not repeat the things that brought us success in lieu of new, shiny objects. The biggest mistake we've made is not making it a more profound part of our overall strategy.

Greg Rollett (@gregrollett) Ambitious.com

Biggest mistake is that people only start trying to influence or help other people when they need something. You need to dig your well before you're thirsty.

Jordan Harbinger (@theartofcharm) theartofcharm.com

A crucial mistake I've seen others make is not to develop relationships with influencers before they need them. Relationships take time to develop and the best way to nurture them is by being helpful.

Mary Jaksch, WritetoDone.com @WritetoDone

I think the biggest mistake people make is having the wrong expectations, specifically overestimating how quickly to expect results. We've been doing influencer marketing for over 1.5 years and we've seen our traffic grow substantially, but it wasn't something that happened in a day, a week, or even a month. Instead it's a process, of getting the word out there, writing content, building relationships, etc. Eventually influencer marketing transitions into more organic as you build up a reputation and people come to you, it's worth the wait but it takes time. If you have the wrong expectations, you'll probably give up too early.

David Schneider is the cofounder of NinjaOutreach an all in one Prospecting and Outreach tool that was created to streamline the process of connecting with influencers. You can find him @ninjaoutreach and his blog SelfMadeBusinessman.

The biggest mistake you can make with influencer marketing is thinking of it as a one and done project. You need to remember that relationship building takes time and effort. You need to put a lot in before you can expect an influencer to be your champion.

Amanda Maksymiw @amandamaks

Thinking it's all about influentials. The message is just as, if not more important than the messenger. What will drive people to talk and share whether they have 10 friends or 10,000? We to think beyond special people and starting thinking about crafting contagious content.

Jonah Berger, (@j1berger) Best selling Author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On JonahBerger.com

I am not so sure that Influencer marketing is not just a new term for a tried and tested approach of early adopters that Geoffrey Moore talked about in Crossing the Chasm. When I was involved in the launch of a new biotech product we followed that 'influencer' model to gain early attention and traction. We made two huge mistakes in doing this. Firstly, many of the influencers were more interested in the perks of being an influencer than helping us achieve our early recognition and secondly we spent so much time listening to the influencers and placing all our faith in them that we ignored what the wider market was telling us, the product was not right. Ultimately, we had to completely reconfigure and re-launch.

Paul Copcutt (@paulcopcutt) paulcopcutt.com

I think the biggest mistake you can make is to not think about what's in it for the other person and not giving them value or helping them with their problems. You have to remember that the "influencer" is putting their neck on the line by backing you up, so you better have a good product, blog post etc... I get people approaching me for support and most make no attempt to think about my point of view or how it might appear if I share something that's completely unrelated to what my audience is interested in.

Paul Minors (@paulminors) paulminors.com

Not having a clear goal. So many companies work on influencer marketing just wanting people to talk about their brands or products without really having a purpose behind it. Know what you want and be able to explain it clearly. I even recommend going one step further by saying that you should have an ROI behind everything you do. If it's not making money, eventually you'll have to stop doing it. Make sure you're making a profit behind everything you do.

John Rampton (@johnrampton) johnrampton.com

My biggest mistake in influencer marketing was doing it randomly without a strategy. As a result I was noticed by so many influencers but I couldn't take any benefit from them. The only benefit I was getting in the beginning were shares for my posts. Once I came to know the unlimited benefits of influencer marketing like getting client referrals from them, I started enjoying its real benefits. So develop a clear influencer marketing strategy on how you'll achieve your goals. This I think is the only kind of marketing that can be done both amateurishly and professionally both. So follow a professional approach while doing it.

Mi Muba Founder and CEO of Be A Money Blogger your go-to source to learn how to become rich with blogging gradually and surely.

Set a clear goal - I've seen companies that go into influencer marketing without a clearly defined goal of what they are trying to accomplish. You need to start by defining the key performance indicators (KPI's) you are going to monitor for your campaign. You can pick a single KPI or multiple but its best for you to think through what you are trying to accomplish with your campaign and select the most applicable. Next, you need a way to measure them, you can use Google Analytics, Mixpanel, unique phone numbers, whatever. You just need to make sure you have things in place to measure that you are meeting your goals and defining success.

Rick Ramos (@ricktramos) rickramos.com

When conducting Influencer marketing, far too many companies simply look for impressions. The problem seems to stem from the ease of measurement. But, a truly thoughtful campaign which seeks to find people with genuine influence, and the ability to impact sales takes more time to put together and may not have an immediate metric for a manager to talk about. For Influencer campaigns to work, this short-term thinking needs to be eliminated.

Tim Fargo socialjukebox.com

Not being organised and consistent with my message on a daily basis would be my biggest mistake. Systems and strategies are a must.

Suzie Cheel The Heart Whisperer @suziecheel Facebook
I think the biggest mistake I've ever seen made in influencer marketing is just completely missing the target on the outreach. A previous client actually brought us on-board to deal with cleaning up a negative link campaign that came about after they naively thought they could buy an email list of "potential customers" who were avid users of a conflicting service and blast them with ill-targeted email campaigns to acquire new links, instead of even trying to entreat them as customers first. It all starts with the strategy, and if the strategy you're using is broken and ill-conceived you're going to waste a ton of hours and even risk extreme PR backlash from your efforts. In this case we had to literally repair the damages they did to themselves through these efforts first using some reputation management strategies and then follow that up with a good strategy targeting potential customers, past customers, current customers, and reaching out to them in honest methods, not through bought email lists that could and should effectively blacklist the party doing the outreach.
  1. Make sure your target is a smart target
  2. Make sure the methods you use to reach out to your target is going to be well received
  3. Make sure what you're offering is something they would be interested in and not repulsed by
  4. Have a clear process for next steps based on their response if they'd like to move forward.
Sean Smith (@snsmth) simpletiger.com

The biggest mistake I've made personally with doing influencer marketing for my business, is not setting clear enough goals. It took me some time to realize that I wasn't able to measure or track my efforts properly because of this. I had to go back to the drawing board, set out my goals and objectives, rewrite my plan of action and start all over again from scratch. Anyone seeking quick results from influencer marketing, or expecting to get the most without setting clear cut goals, as to what they want to achieve, how much they want to achieve, and in what span of time, might as well not bother doing it at all.

Fabrizio Van Marciano (@vanmarciano) magnet4blogging.net

The biggest mistake I've ever made with influencer marketing was focusing too much on the short term goal (asking for a share, a link, feedback, etc) versus building a long term relationship. I quickly corrected this after a few conversations with the influencers.

Sujan Patel Co-Founder of Narrow.io & (@sujanpatel)

Not developing relationships with influencers after the campaign is over. This is the biggest influencer marketing mistake I've seen and it's made too often. The thing is, the long-term relationship with influential people in your industry is worth more than any clicks and conversions your one-time campaign may deliver. Imagine that for the next campaign you won't have to start afresh. Or imagine 10% of those influencers stick around and promote you for free going forth. This is achieved by consistent relationship development (through constant social media interactions and touching-base). It's the full-time community manager's job!

Ann Smarty (@seosmarty) viralcontentbuzz.com

I think the biggest problem with influencer marketing is not taking the time to build a relationship before reaching out and asking demands or favors. Influencer marketing is a long term strategy and it takes a long term effort to pull off.

Paul Back Founder of Earn a Living Blogging

The biggest mistake I ever made with influential marketing, and outreach, is the fact that I simply didn't do it enough of it. I was more focused on creating than connecting. After a change of heart, the last few years I've been calling more, connecting more, and investing in people more than myself. The returns have been great and I've been connecting with the legends in marketing. I have a Twitter Strategy and it does well because my motive isn't profit, it's connecting like a mad man :) You should do the same.

Luke Guy lukeguy.com

The biggest mistake in influencer marketing is going for the kill too quickly when establishing relationships with influencers that can make a big difference in your business. Never meet someone and then immediately ask them for something (such as an introduction, or for them to hook you up in some way). Wait as long as you possibly can - months or even a year - so you don't ruin the relationship by coming off as a user.

Dorie Clark (@dorieclark) dorieclark.com.

Nothing can replace a genuine relationship with an influencer. Yes, you may score a link or two as a result of scalable outreach campaigns but organic approach offers benefits beyond immediate value. Visualise superficial influencer relationship as a single, short-lived ripple and then compare it with periodic but sustained rain drops of a deeply engaged influencer.

Dan Petrovic (@dejanseo) dejanseo.com.au

The biggest mistake I've seen others make in Influencer Marketing, is that it lacks the proper study in gathering data if a particular campaign would succeed or not. It is definitely risky depending on the niche one would be in, not to mention that it does not guarantee success (conversions) at all by (just basing on the influencers followers) compared to traditional marketing where data is king. Influencer marketing has its advantages but I really think data should come first before anything else in business.

Floyd G. Buenavente (@SEOphilippiness) marketingmanila.com

The biggest issue I've seen (and I've have been guilty of myself) is not doing due diligence in understanding WHO can have the biggest impact on your brand. For instance, I'm focusing most of my time these days in the insurance niche. Reaching out to someone in the internet marketing niche isn't going to reciprocate value to both parties. Sure links are valuable, but ultimately when you're trying to build a brand you want to reach out to an influencer whose audience is relevant and valuable to your industry. The referral traffic/customer acquisition from a link is more valuable to me than the single link passing hyperlink these days. I would much rather reach out to 5 local insurance agents getting their opinions/thoughts and potentially having them share/link to my site than 100 SEO bloggers who's audience doesn't likely care much about insurance and wont visit/engage with my site.

Nick LeRoy (@NickLeRoy) RideCoverage.com

Over the years I have noticed that too many "marketers" try to reach out to influencers that are simply unrealistic targets. This is especially true for new products and brands. It's all about being smart when choosing your targets. While you want quality, you cannot expect a professional athlete or actor to endorse a product or brand (without a lot of money) that is relatively unheard of. It's honestly one of the BIGGEST mistakes I see (and it happens all too often). I recently went through this training a recent college graduate on influencer outreach for a new brand. A lot of it is poor training. Some of it is unrealistic expectations and marketers wanting to "shoot for the stars".

Michael J. Kovis tk421digital.com. @tk421digital

The biggest I've made when I started out doing influencer marketing is (1) not giving enough value, (2) not preparing an influencer list, and (3) not negotiating a "win-win" proposal. For me, creating a list of influencers that you would like to outreach is critical because it makes the campaign efficient and measurable. I've also learned that giving opens the way for receiving and building relationships with influencers skyrockets success, it's the main lessons we've learned back when I helped a customer become successful on their crowd funding campaign.

Roel Manarang is the founder of Enamtila. He helped more than 170 businesses around the world, from small businesses to fortune 500s. He writes about digital marketing, profitability, work, and growth. Learn more about him at roelmanarang.com or follow him on twitter.
The biggest mistake in influencer marketing is hiding your agenda. If you want someone to do something for you, the direct, honest approach is the only one. But, that means doing the hard work of:
  • Understanding the influencer's interests and brand and sweet spot
  • Making sure the content you want them to share, endorse or participate in is right for them
  • Making sure it's as good as it can be and really worth someone's time
  • Helping them achieve their goals before you ask them to help you achieve yours
If your work is great, any influencer should be happy to associate themselves with it. It's win-win. If it's boring, paint-by-numbers content... spend your time fixing that before you ask anyone to endorse it for you. Doug Kessler velocitypartners.com

The biggest mistake I ever made was in assuming someone was not an influencer when, in fact, they became much bigger than I ever imagined. Don't judge people. That's the lesson. And I wouldn't worry too much about influencers; just try to treat all people well.

Jeff Goins goinswriter.com (@JeffGoins)

Define your demographic and target market - aim for the bullseye. Not "everyone and anyone" (for example) who uses nail polish will want to buy your brand. Be meticulous about exactly who your consumers are. Then, do a thorough job of reaching out to the movers and shakers in, for this example, the beauty industry.... follow popular bloggers, check out their online reputation, their Klout score, their social media involvement, especially their consistent engagement online, reach out and make a connection. Once you nail your influencers, nurture them; mention them by name, ask their opinion, follow up, and have a conversation or exchange of comments online that is real! Ask them questions that your audience cares about and give them credit and kudos when they reply - in an authentic way, not canned answers. I recommend not automating responses, keeping them in real time and, most importantly, being genuine. Just because a brand has connected with an influencer, does not mean one has to kiss up to them; they are people just like you and, if your influencer really knows their stuff, they will respond well to a team member or social media manager initiating an on-going conversation. Give them credit where credit is due, but in a way that flows well and is not robotic.

Laurie Hurley TheSocialNetworkingNavigator.com Facebook

More often than I'd like, I see a large gap between a company's core audience, and the influencers that marketers are engaging with. For example, the retailer who predominantly sells to low-income, 18-30 year olds - but was courting influencers who are powerful on LinkedIn... that audience isn't spending any time there! It's frustrating because the missing step is so banal: talk to your customers! Find out where they spend time online, where they do research, and who they trust for information about products/services like yours.

Rob Ousbey (@robousbey) ousbey.com

The biggest mistake you can make with influencer marketing is misunderstanding the role the influencer plays in the buying decision. This all goes back to truly understanding your target market. It can mean anything from neglecting the influencers altogether to missing the mark with messaging. Take the time to do your audience research thoroughly - it's worth it.

Lindsay Tjepkema (@blueprintmkt) blueprintmkt.com

The biggest issue with influencer marketing is confusing audience with influence. Just because someone has a lot of "followers" or can spread a message does NOT mean that person can cause action. Influence = action, not eyeballs. If you want to engage in influencer marketing, you have to work with people who are influential about the specific topics that align with you.

Jay Baer is the President of ConvinceAndConvert.com. Check out his new podcast all about influencer marketing.

Identifying influencers based on reach. Just because an influencer has a big audience it doesn't mean they are engaged. When doing influencer marketing you have to focus on influencers who are popular and have an engaged following.

Neil Patel neilpatel.com

The biggest mistake I see is overuse of the term influencer. There are very popular people online, but it doesn't mean that they can have an impact on a purchase decision for an advertiser. Focusing on popularity is not as important as focusing on relevance and understanding the audience or community that the influencer has fostered. More often than not, a highly targeted influencer that has a smaller following can generate more awareness and purchases of a product or service than a widely popular person online.

Douglas Karr (@douglaskarr) Marketing Technology Blog

My number 1 mistake when it comes to influencer marketing is to overlook someone who may be the perfect fit for my brand because they don't have a huge following. I used to only want to focus on those who have top-tier communities; but I soon realized that the pay-off is not as good especially if they are not extremely targeted. Now I know that the focus should be more on the quality of their network and their relevance to my business instead of just the number of followers.

Nellie Akalp, CorpNet.com @CorpNetNellie

I've seen business owners hire the wrong type of influencers to market their brand. This is because, a seemingly large network and a big follower count, are often their only qualifying metrics for what constitutes an "influencer". Instead, business owners should look for the "influencers" who are creatively engaging their audiences and generating actual conversation surrounding topics in their niche. For example, a topical expert who responds to tweets from a wide variety of people (and not just from other influencers).

Melanie Nathan (@melanienathan) positiondigital.com

The biggest mistake I see most people make is to focus on the influencer's reach too much. If you want free publicity, "I want you to share this because you'll love it" works a lot better than "I want you to share it because you have major influence". People with a large reach can usually spot the influencer-equivalent of a gold digger from a mile away.

Wiep Knol (@wiep) linkbuilding.nl

Assuming that a large following will equal large conversions. Just because an influencer has a large following does not mean their following is relevant to your audience or it's worthy of any influence at all. It's better to find highly targeted influencers that have a strong brand associated with quality content and interactions that generate consistent ROI for themselves and others.

Cody McLain (@codymclain) codymclain.com

The biggest mistake I see in influencer marketing is selecting the influencers based solely on following and not because they're influential with the audience you're trying to reach. Example, you have a blog on child care and have an epic post on how to get your little one to sleep. Instead of connecting and building a relationship with Gina Ford, you message Mari Smith and ask her to share. Mari Smith may have 250k more Twitter followers, but Gina Ford is MORE influential with that specific audience. Influence is about the connection with your target audience and not just about the numbers.

Sarah Arrow Sarke Media (@SarahArrow)

When it comes to influencer marketing it's important to verify the engagement that influencers are actually getting. It's very easy to purchase follows as well as likes for each post. A person may claim to be an influencer, but in reality is a fraud looking to take advantage of companies. We've been burned by that in the past, but if you start off with smaller influencers you can get the feel of what is legit and what is fake.

Eric Bandholz (@bandholz) beardbrand.com

The biggest mistake I've made in the past was banking on the assumption that the influencer I worked with would have a big enough audience to compensate for the fact that they didn't have the ideal demographic for me. Kinda like throwing mud and hoping something would stick. Influencers have relevancy to their specific audience and the best way to achieve success with a campaign is to match up with the right influencer and not get star-struck and assume their following will jump on board with something that's disconnected from the very reason they are following their influencer.

Bob Jones (@bobjones) visible.com.au

I've seen a few of our clients work on their own and also with PR firms to enter the influencer marketing space. On their own, people don't seem to know how to put a value on their "influence" and most rely on vanity metrics to prove their worth (rather than actionable metrics like engagements per tweet, click-through rate, etc.). And even those utilizing PR firms to help still seem to have issues with attracting the right influencer for their products/brand AND the intended audience. It seems there's still a lot of maturity that needs to take place with this space!

Brooke B. Sellas (@madSMscientist) bsquared.media

Most influencer programs go for people with big social network numbers, with little regard for the influencers' willingness or fit to help. You'll see brands pay an Instagrammer $40K for a post. In many cases that post looks staged and stays up only a few hours and then gets deleted to make room for other sponsored content. It's hard to call something so fleeting effective. The better alternative is to find super-fans, with smaller following but who will be loyal to your brand. Find 100 ambassadors, each with 2,000 followers, who repeatedly post genuine, real snapshots of their experiences with the brand. They will get you much more exposure than one 2-hour post on one Instagram account.

Mana Ionescu, (@manamica) President of Chicago Digital Marketing agency, Lightspan Digital.

The biggest mistake I've made with influencer marketing is dismissing the "word of mouth" (WOM) aspect, because of how difficult it can be to directly measure and scale. The truth is, it's actually not that hard to encourage a small number of initial influencers to help you market to other influencers. I tried to start big, but with influencer marketing you can start small and it builds quickly (because of WOM).

Ruben Gamez (@earthlingworks) bidsketch.com

Making a large EGO bait piece of content where we included the top 20 financial Twitter users and only 1 linked back. We followed up with a list of 20 mid tier influencers on Twitter. and over 50% linked back.

James Norquay (@connections8) prosperitymedia.com

The biggest mistake I see businesses make with influencer marketing is they are focusing on the wrong influencers. Your true influencers are your most devoted customers and/or community members whom are your biggest advocates. Focus on them and they will continue to be your biggest brand evangelists.

Melonie Dodaro @MelonieDodaro TopDogSocialMedia.com

I think the biggest mistake brands make is reaching out to me and asking me to promote something to my audience that has nothing to do with my audience. My audience is all I got, and I respect the hell out of them. To think I'd sell them out for what? Never.

Peter Shankman shankman.com (@petershankman)

The biggest problem is these companies (or agencies) do not do the proper screening to make sure that the demographics of the influencer matches well with the product being marketed....which is usually a disaster!

Scott Eddy (@MrScottEddy) and mrscotteddy.com

Influencer marketing is incredibly effective, but too many bloggers and entrepreneurs make the mistake of choosing the wrong influencers. Yes, "Chuck" was a wonderful TV show. But, that doesn't mean Zachary Levi and Adam Baldwin are the best fits for your how-to article on prenatal fitness.

To get the most out of Influencer Marketing, you need influencers who are good matches for your target audience. Those are the influencers who can help you in the short term, and the ones with who you can cultivate long-term relationships.

Kevin Duncan (@kevinjduncan) beabetterblogger.com

I've had auto scripts calling me an influencer for their product for things like 'Life Insurance' when I have never had anything to do with it (I don't even have life insurance!). A big mistake I made was trying to cast my net too wide, and not even reading up about the person I was trying to connect with and get attention from. My top suggestion, Research! Both the audience of the influencer and the best works of the influencer, so you have something to explain why they would be a great fit with your offering. It's like 'segmenting' but with max 100 people, who you drill down to get very personal and specific with.

Colin Klinkert

With all marketing those who take the time to understand the audience and clearly define the proposition will have much more success. Great campaigns whether they are influencer campaigns or anything at all will grow out of a clearly defined situation analysis and strategy. With this backbone in place we can easily identify the right influencers and determine how we will make this worth their while.

Marcus Miller Head of SEO & PPC BowlerHat (@marcusbowlerhat)

The biggest mistake I saw one of my clients make when going for an influencer was the fact that they failed to conduct a proper research first about the influencer they have chosen. An influencer may not always be the right person to do a campaign with, simply because the product or service you offer isn't relevant to that influencer's audience. So, to keep this short, make sure that when choosing an influencer... you choose the one that's relevant to your topic/product.

Francisco Perez (@ditesco) Iblogzone.com

You can use a tool called Demographics Pro, to find out an influencer's audience demographics.

A lot of people focus on the online influencers that have big social media accounts and large platforms to broadcast their messages. I made this mistake for many years. While the logic makes sense these influencers are highly targeted so there is a lot of competition for their attention. What I've realized over time is that this strategy also misses a huge segment of influencers that work and connect offline. Those that don't have big twitter accounts have been spending their time developing their networks the "old fashioned" way and have their own strong platforms on which to connect and promote people they believe in.

Julie Gray profound-impact.com

A common mistake is to conclude that someone with many social profile followers who repeatedly uses a topic word or hashtag = someone whose recommendation of what you're selling is likely to affect sales. A more reliable acid test is to search blogs and forums for the topic and see which names come up the most and when mentioned, the amount of replies their mention generates.

Saul Fleischman CEO ritetag.com (@osakasaul)

The most common mistake I see when it comes to influencer marketing comes down to quality versus quantity. New entrepreneurs tend to try the shotgun approach, since they aren't really sure which influencers they want endorsing their product. This ends up creating more work than it's worth. A better approach is to really nail down your dream influencer, and create a dedicated and coordinated campaign to recruit them. When it comes to influencer marketing - it's quality over quantity that wins.

The biggest mistake I've ever seen is recruiting an influencer your target customer dislikes. I've seen an organic brand, with liberal customers and a feel-good brand, recruit an aggressive internet marketing type. Although management loved the influencer, their target customers saw him as a scammer and wanted nothing to do with him. If you're going to tie your brand to an influencer, make sure it's one that your customers love. Influence is not ubiquitous - there are many types of influence out there.

One more thing...

People seem to think influencer marketing is as simple as a popular person posting on their instagram. While that is technically influencer marketing, it's largely ineffective. True influencer marketing comes down to creating world-class products and a brand that your customers love. Create something that influencers like to support, and you'll be winning influencer marketing without even trying.

A good example is Slack, which is an incredible company chat platform. The product is so good - even the inaccessible influencers are pushing it for free. Take me for example - I'm not a HUGE influencer, but I'm big enough to where you'd have to pay me $10-25k to push Slack the way I do. They are getting hundreds of millions of dollars in free ad-spend, just by creating an incredible product that influencers love. Influencers became influencers by spreading value to the word - so give them something worth spreading.

Will Mitchell (@startupbros) startupbros.com

I've seen sucky campaigns where the organizer reaches out to so many "influencers". Most of those supposed influencers are not even really influencers and are sometimes practicing unethical disciplines in regards to SEO. It's such a huge fail when I'm part of a round-up post of "influencers" and some people in that same post is giving bad advice about SEO (which I'm mostly known for being against). That's a really bad thing and I often don't share the post because of that and I do not join future round-ups with the organizer.

Sean Si is the CEO and Founder of SEO Hacker and Qeryz. A start-up, data analysis and urgency junkie who spends his time inspiring young entrepreneurs through talks and seminars. Check out his personal blog where he writes about starting up two companies and life in general. @SEO_hacker - that's my main twitter handle :)

One key mistake in influencer marketing is that brands don't take into account audience insights when selecting an influencer. The more information a brand can access on that influencer's audience, the better job they will do reaching their target demographic. It might not always be the influencer with the largest audience - sometimes the best fit is someone with a smaller, more relevant and loyal following.

Many mistakes in influencer marketing come down to overlooking what seems like an insignificant detail, but in fact is key to a successful campaign. For example, when a brand is promoting a product, they can overlook what they're delivering and how. One company accidentally scheduled a delivery of a new perishable product on Christmas Eve when influencers were not around to receive it, which resulted in the product getting spoiled and the campaign being delayed. Another brand tapped into influencers to reveal new branding, but delivered product with the old branding, which was a big fail.

David Cohen tapinfluence.com

I think the biggest mistake I have ever made and see a lot of people do is to think that a single outreach template could work every single time. It's just not true and using the "shotgun" approach, you will be ignored by the most influential people you outreach to and end up with low quality placement. The best thing to do is to reduce the volume of outreach you do and actually get to know who you are talking to. This approach consistently gets us high quality endorsement where other marketers struggle to get by.

Gael Breton authorityhacker.com

The biggest mistake I've ever made is NOT first identifying the top 5 influencers that would've made the biggest impact. You don't need 10 or 20 of them. Just a handful. When I did that, everything changed. I focused on ONLY contacting them, providing 10x the value, making myself useful in any way -- and eventually opportunities came along.

Samuel Woods Growth Marketing Consultant samueljwoods.com @heysamwoods

Not using available tools and resources to their full potential. For example, Triberr is a great platform for getting more shares or tweets on Twitter, but it can also be used for connecting with influencers in your niche (and get them to share your blog posts).

Devesh Sharma (@devesh) wpkube.com

The biggest mistake I've seen in influencer marketing is brands not taking the time to actually build a relationship. I get pitched by numerous brands every day, but very few ever take the time to build a relationship with me, and more importantly think about what I want - rather than just what they want from me.

Sean Ogle (@seanogle) Location 180

The biggest mistake I've made with influencer marketing is to skip the "trust building" step. Be generous, initiate reciprocity, expect nothing in return and the rewards will flood in down the road.

Will Blunt (@WillBluntAU) bloggersidekick.com

A mistake everyone seems to make is establishing a foundation before asking for something. The reason most asks never succeed is because the size of the request is far greater than the trust that has been established. I wrote a blog post on this called Please Don't Ask Before You Say Hello and Another 9 Don'ts.

Liz Strauss

The biggest mistake I've ever made was being too aggressive in my initial influencer outreach email to brand new connections that I was trying to establish a relationship with. The best advice would be to start with the basic fundamentals and reach out discussing something that you both have a passion for, or similarities with. Then as time goes on, send them over a link to your content to see if they'd be willing to share it.

Matt Banner onblastblog.com @blastyourblog

Go to Part 2 to continue reading.

Matt Banner onblastblog.com @blastyourblog

Go to Part 2 to continue reading.