Branding Marketing Social Media Marketing

Is Your Brand Getting Influencer Marketing Wrong?

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Millions of people interact with influencers on social media every day. Social media influencers can be a powerful way to reach new customers or convert skeptics. With the spectacular rise of Tik Tok, image-based brands—like cosmetics, fashion, music, and gaming—have been able to target masses of Millennials and Gen Z.

But how can you know if influencer marketing is for you? And if it is, how would you choose which influencers to work with? Between the nano, micro, mid-tier and macro levels, there are probably thousands of influencers that might work for you. That’s why it’s important to write down a list of traits you’re looking for in an influencer before you start looking. Here are some key considerations as you decide whether to embark on an influencer campaign:

1. Goals, Measurements, and Contracts

Like all advertising, you have to know your goals before starting. From there, figure out things like platform, influencer target, messaging that fits specific influencers and what your call to action is and how that’s communicated through the content.

Proper measurement is also key. You need to make sure you set the right KPIs for your team so that you’re clear about the ROI you seek from engaging influencers. Are you engaging influencers to:

  • Drive sales?
  • Build awareness?
  • Help with a specific consumer demographic for new customer acquisition?
  • Change consumer perception of your brand?
  • Answer your brand’s critique? 

Finally, the contract negotiation should be very specific, and stay true to your goals and measurements, as discussed above. For example, you should set expectations on:

  • Type and number of posts
  • Which platforms will be used
  • Messaging
  • Usage rights
  • Links to e-commerce 
  • Revenue-sharing vs. compensation on activity 

In terms of negotiating, see what the sticking points are on price. Usually this centers around exclusivity requirements, licensing rights, number of draft reviews—keep in mind video re-shoots can be particularly pricey—and ownership rights. You can negotiate lower rates by having some give on these areas.

Also note that advertising needs to be disclosed by the influencer, per the Federal Trade Commission.

By narrowing among dozens of reasons to engage influencers to a key singular goal will help with specifics around setting team expectations and specific measurement. And if you don’t set proper expectations, things will not pan out as planned and the relationship could be ruined. That leads to wasted money and bad publicity. 

2. In-House vs. Out-Source

Your company hires experts in marketing, advertising, PR, digital, etc. You should also hire someone that knows influencers. This could be in-house or agency side. Managing influencer programs in-house helps maintain more control of the brand and the campaigns if influencers are a key pillar of your marketing strategy.

On the other hand, working with digital influencers can take a large toll on internal teams—in terms of heavy lifting of time—from forming deals for content creation to pushing paid ads across your brands’ social channels, and measurement. Stacy DeBroff, CEO of Influence Central, tells me “Many companies opt to engage seasoned specialists like my team to run their influencer engagements, as it ensures deep vetting of potential influencers, carefully framed and signed influencer agreements that include extension of content rights to the brand, seamless campaign management, online draft reviews before content gets posted, and detailed and guaranteed campaign metrics drawing directly from each influencer’s behind the scenes data.”

3. Authentic Match

Companies must compare their Brand Value Proposition and Buyer Personas and find authentic matches. Otherwise, customers will discount content from an influencer who seems to be just “doing it for the money.” Additionally, marketers must gauge each influencer’s passion for the brand and their desire to work with you. The key is not to just chase influencers that you think are up and coming, but to go after influencers that will help build an authentic brand.

4. Influencer Strategy

Rather than defaulting to the bottom of the rung with micro influencers or spending your way to the top (unless you’re a large brand) with social media celebrities, the best strategy is a mix of nano, micro, and mid-tier influencers.

Such a mix will usually give the best ROI, since these groups together have a decent mix of followers and are perceived to be more authentic, generally. And of course, marketers need to aim for a mix of influencers that fit the brand/business life stage. Below are the different levels of influencers:

  1. Nano influencers (1-10k followers): It costs dramatically less to engage this group, since many of them will create content simply for product samples in return. As such, they can offer you the ability to engage certain groups at lower costs. But be sure they have some experience with such campaigns prior to engagement. Of course, some first-timers will do a great job, but consider their experience level before you go all-in.
  2. Micro influencers (10-50k followers): Typically, micro influencers do not have agents—which can often try to pull more money from your pockets—and they tend to be more personal. Though they have smaller followings, comparatively, they can be very effective.
  3. Mid-tier influencers (50-500k followers): They have a substantial number of followers, but they typically use many brand partnerships to make money. So since social media can be their primary source of income, they can be dramatically more expensive than the previous tiers. Additionally, many mid-tier influencers have started to engage agents. 
  4. Premium/Macro influencers (500k-1m+ followers): They are best used for big, themed and/or seasonal campaigns. But it is often best to avoid them. They often communicate through agents, and the relationship is much less personal. As a result, they frequently dedicate much less of their time to the project. They can also miss the message of authenticity, which is critical, and should be a deal breaker.

While follower count is okay for gauging cost and reach, you can’t make your decisions simply based on this number. KPIs like views and engagement will usually give you a much better idea, and a simple conversation with the influencer in mind can go a long way.


Influencers can be a powerful tool in a marketer’s toolbox, but they must remember that this is about relationship building. That’s why it’s key to involve influencers in your brand, get them passionate, and to not treat them as just an execution point. But at the same time, don’t let them take advantage of you, which is why it is so important to gauge up front how passionate and authentic they are about your brand and have a very clear and specific contract. 

All in all, remember to:

  1. Set specific goals, measurements, and contracts
  2. Decide if you want influencer management done in-house or out-sourced
  3. Find authentic matches and foster passionate relationships
  4. Create a strategy that will maximize ROI 

About the author


Kim Salzer

Kim Salzer is a Partner & CMO with Chief Outsiders, the nation’s fastest growing “executive-as-a-service” company. More information at