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Influencer marketing is a major component for all brands with a social media presence, but it’s still a fairly new practice. As this tactic becomes more deeply entrenched, brands must be mindful of the potential for rogue influencers to cause a crisis. Here are some steps to avoid them.

Know What Your Influencers Are About

It’s exciting to think of someone like Kylie Jenner or Taylor Swift sharing about your brand – especially knowing how many fans they have on social. Though influencers don’t have to be famous, it’s certainly nice exposure – under the right conditions.

As Jamie Elgie writes in Forbes, “Don’t say yes to anyone with a high social media following. Make sure the influencers are professional, create good content and share the same values as your company. Quality over quantity.”

This requires a bit of social research into their interests and passions, and how they communicate with their fans.

Perhaps video game makers Electronic Arts could have predicted Breaking Benjamin front-man Benjamin Burnley would take things to the extreme if he didn’t like Star Wars: Battlefront, when asked to say nice things about the game.

Luckily it didn’t hurt the game’s sales, but it could have gone a different way.

Understand Sentiment of Those Engaging with Influencers

Here’s another reason quantity of followers isn’t enough to work with: engagements and sentiment. If an influencer’s audience isn’t actually engaged, they won’t be very useful to your brand.

There are two key metrics to look at when assessing the audience of your influencers – and whether they’re a fit for your brand.

1. Engagements/Post/10K followers – this tells you how actively engaged a following an influencer has. It’s not total engagements that measure that value, but the density of engagements.

2. Sentiment of engagements – celebrities in particular can have passionate haters, i.e., people who actively respond to everything in a negative fashion. Some may even encourage such behavior. That’s great if it works for them, but if it won’t work for your brand, steer clear.

Define the Parameters of the Job

Don’t assume influencers understand what’s expected of them – spell it out. Influencers should understand exactly how and when to communicate, and what they can and cannot say. Have a contract in place that details the consequences of speaking negatively about your brand.

Just as you have – or should – a social media policy for your employees, your influencers should be aware of their role and the rules.

Even better, make it clear what they get in exchange for their voice. That way there’s no incentive to change their tune.

Be Transparent

Speaking of incentives… Some influencers may be excited just to receive a public thank-you for shouting out your brand, or some swag after the fact. But if your influencers are paid, or gifted products for the sake of reviewing/talking about them, this must be disclosed.

In this age of authenticity in advertising, consumers do not appreciate brands and influencers breaking their trust by hiding those relationships. Moreover, those who don’t identify posts as sponsored may face legal action from the FTC.

When the alignment is right, sponsored partnerships are successful, so why risk it?

Monitor All Activity and Plan for Disaster

Even the best of influencers can misstep – or fall out of favor with the public. Trends change constantly, as do consumers opinions about everything. The only way to ensure your brand is safe from a crisis is by monitoring influencer activity, and dealing with any issues that crop up while they are small.

This is something you should already be doing, so it’s not reinventing the wheel. Use regular influencer reporting to keep track of how your influencers are performing, and keep higher-ups informed of any potential trouble spots.

Influencers and brand ambassadors can be amazingly beneficial to your brand, so don’t let these caveats scare you from pursuing this marketing tactic. Just put your social analytics tools to use in choosing wisely, and following up, and you’ll be just fine.

Want help assessing the best influencers for your brand? Reach out and we’ll show you how our tools do just that!