If you’ve followed our blog for the last year, you know that we’re constantly running into advertisers who are jumping feet first into Influencer Marketing without stopping to learn how it works or to fully understand whether or not it will actually help them achieve their goals.

Throughout the year, I’ve been keeping track of some trends. I listen for questions that advertisers ask and the way they describe what they want from Influencers. From that, I have narrowed down 4 “flags”. Any one of them tells me that Influencer Marketing is NOT what the advertiser is looking for.

1 – You want editorial control over the content.

Let’s start with content. Yes, you can be “brand sensitive”. You can ask that influencers do or don’t use some words or phrases. You can even ask to see their drafts if you want to check for proper grammar and ensure that they aren’t promising something on your behalf that you can’t live up to.

But, be careful.

First, the more “high maintenance” you are, the less likely it is that influencers are going to want to work with you again.

More importantly, though – influencers know how to create content that resonates (INFLUENCES) their readers. Quite honestly, they are better than you at it. So – let them create the content. Let them hold the reigns and use their own voice to tell a story that will get their readers wanting to know more.

If you must have editorial control, if you want specific content created, images used in a certain way and the ability to make the message exactly what you want it to be, you should not work with Influencers. You should purchase advertisements.

2 – You only want to work with influencers that surpass your traffic threshold.

Sure, you want influencers that actually have a following. You want to be sure that they have done some work to generate traffic. But, if you’re looking for a specific stat, it tells me that you’re using a formula of impressions, to clicks to conversions. That’s not how Influencer Marketing works.

As I discussed in last week’s blog post, less is more with Influencer Marketing.

Think of it this way… Target has millions of people coming in and out of it’s doors. If your new solar-powered lantern is on the shelves in the sporting goods section, it has the opportunity of being seen by a certain percentage of the people who peruse that aisle, and will likely even be picked up and purchased by a handful of those visitors.

Now, consider that your solar-powered lantern is sitting on the shelves of an eco-friendly recreational supply store. Almost every person who walks through the door will see it. Plus, the guy behind the counter will be able to do more than answer “Aisle 7” when someone asks him if he carries lanterns. He’ll be able to passionately describe your product’s features and benefits and highlight the aspects that impressed him the most.

You realize one is an example of Infuencer Marketing while the other is an example of advertising through product placement – right? Neither is better than the other – they are different.

If you’re looking for high traffic sites to display your product so that you can apply your formula of visits > impressions > clicks > conversions again, you’re looking for advertising, not Influencer Marketing.

3 – Our $250 minimum spend makes you cringe.

If you don’t have $250 to dedicate to a test an Influencer Marketing campaign, please don’t launch one. Anytime an advertiser balks at our minimum spend threshold, I know that money is tight for them. They need to see every dollar spent come back with at least a penny more on it, and they need that to happen fast.

Influencer Marketing is not a fast strategy. It’s about building relationships with people who help shape the buying patterns and purchase decisions of your target market. It’s about convincing them that they should work with you now, and continue working with you throughout the coming year or years.

Influencer Marketing isn’t always easy to track down to the penny. A consumer may hear about you from an influencer and be interested, but not click on a tracked link and buy your product. Maybe it’s not until they see someone else mention your product, or they find themselves in a situation where they need your product when they go to Google to type in your name, find your site and make the purchase.

Influencers are great at planting seeds in the minds of the right consumers. It doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t always follow highly-traceable routes.

If you have only $250 or less to spend, Influencer Marketing is not the answer. Instead, I recommend you work on a conversion funnel that attempts to convert as many visitors as possible into email subscribers and then those subscribers into paying customers. Purchase Facebook ads and/or Google Adwords and watch you campaigns like a hawk, tweaking them for the lowest cost and highest conversion.

4 – You expect one post to generate sales.

I don’t know who is spreading this rumor, but I really wish they’d stop. Influencers do not have some kind of Jedi mind trick that they play on their readers. This isn’t magic, Influencer Marketing is not a workaround to the typical consumer buying process.

Consumers become aware of a need… they develop an interest in solving that need… they research their options… they finally decide what they’ll do.

Influencers can help you reach consumers in one or more of the stages of this buying cycle, but they won’t help you circumvent it altogether.

If think Influencer Marketing is magic, it isn’t for you. I’m not sure any marketing strategy is going to meet your expectations, so I won’t recommend one in this case.

If you’ve made it past these misconceptions – or never had them to start with – Influencer Marketing can be a powerful strategy in your overall marketing mix. We’d love to help you get a campaign up and running.