The Most Dangerous Myths About Influencer Marketing

Tatiana Beale
July 13, 2016
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With its rising popularity, influencer marketing is a key topic on every marketer’s agenda. As a marketer, you have multiple online sources to turn to for information, but most of these sources fail to provide accurate advice. Without proper information or training for influencer marketing, you're in danger of doing it wrong.

That’s why Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Marketing, decided to take the pulse of his community, including marketing industry leaders and experts, to dispel the most dangerous myths about influencer marketing. Lee recently presented the findings in a presentation alongside Nicolas Chabot, VP EMEA at Traackr, at the Digital Marketing World Forum in London. The following summary has been curated from the TopRank Marketing blog.

Check out the top five myths in influencer marketing to know what’s real and what’s a hoax when it comes to the practice.

Myth #1: Popularity = Influence

Busted: 

It is a Myth that Influencer Marketing is Marketing Based Only on Popularity, Mistaken for Influence. Neville Hobson – Senior Business Consultant, IBM Social Consulting

Lee’s take: 

While audience and reach are very important, it’s what people do once you’ve reached them that pays the bills. What good is being promoted to a Twitter audience of a million followers if no one clicks the link, shares the tweet or is otherwise affected?

Myth #2: You Should Buy Influencers Like You Buy Advertising

Busted:

The notion that you can buy influencers like media is dangerous. It’s a relationship business, not real estate. – Stephen Waddington, Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum

Lee’s take: 

It is true there is an organic and a paid approach to working with influencers just like anything else from search to social to content. The myth here is that you always need to pay influencers and that just isn’t true...Paying influencers comes down to what they’re doing for you. When you pay someone that has talent AND and audience to promote to, it makes sense to pay them. When you identify a brand fan or advocate and invite them to co-create content around things they already care about, that’s more of a collaboration.

Myth #3: Brands Don’t Have Time to Develop Influencer Relationships

Busted: 

Brands must make the time to authentically build relationships with influencers and there is no better way to do that, than co-creating content. Jason Miller, Senior Manager, Global Content Marketing, Marketing Solutions, LinkedIn

Lee’s take: 

Here’s a situation you might relate to. An amazing campaign is concepted, created and ready to drop. And it’s suggested that you reach out to some influencers to help you promote. There’s no time to create a relationship in this situation except for the monetary kind. Alternatively, when influencers are included from the start, from planning to creation, they’re invested in the success of the end product. The act of collaborating on the creation of the content facilitates the relationship. By the time the content is ready to promote, the influencer is ready too.

Myth #4: Influencer ROI is Measured Through Participation and Social Media

Busted: 

True influencer ROI goes way beyond social shares and output counts; it’s in the doors those influencers can open for you and the relationships they help you build. – Shonali Burke, President & CEO, Shonali Burke Consulting

Lee’s take: 

It comes down to goals and how you will monitor progress towards those goals as well as achieving them. If your goal is simply to create more broad awareness for your brand, then increase in social network size, social shares and other engagement metrics may be your focus. But if your goals are to inspire business outcomes like leads, sales, and revenue, then you have a different mix of metrics to work with.

Myth #5: Influencer Marketing Replaces Existing Marketing

Busted: 

Influencer marketing can and should fit into your existing marketing activities, complementing them and accentuating them. – Joel Harrison, Editor-in-chief, B2B Marketing

Lee’s take: 

Some still see influencer marketing as a silo within PR and comms or marketing and others see it more holistically as something that could work cross functionally in your organization as depicted in the diagram below from Traackr. While I happen to agree that influencer marketing programs can actually be both, the myth that influencer marketing replaces other marketing is based in fear. Approaching marketing strategically, with empathy to the customer experience and with an understanding of what influences inspire action amongst your community, it would be foolish not to incorporate influencer engagement at strategic planning stages for marketing.
The Cross-Function Influence Model – Influencer Marketing Infographic

And there you have it! By paying attention to the most "dangerous myths" of influencer marketing, you're more likely to execute the practice the right way. And while this blog post is just a curated snapshot of Lee’s take on the top myths in influencer marketing, make sure to check out the full post for additional insights. Beyond the “dangerous” myths are 20+ more from additional members of Lee’s community and the team at TopRank Marketing.

Do you have any myths to add to Lee’s list? Leave a comment and join the debate!

This post is brought to you by Traackr,

the technology platform behind the world’s leading influencer marketing programs. Want to become the smartest marketer you know? Subscribe to get better at influencer marketing, one newsletter at a time.

Tatiana Beale

A B2B content marketer and publisher with a passion for creating unique story ideas. A stellar planner and executor with a “customer first” journalistic approach. A resourceful problem-solver motivated by deadlines and impacting business results.