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10 Mistakes To Avoid When Running Influencer Marketing & User-generated content (UGC) Campaigns

Influencer marketing campaigns can take different forms, from YouTube videos and sponsored content to guest blogging, shoutout content, and product placement. Even amidst the ongoing global pandemic and economic downturn, brands are engaging influencers to reach wider audiences and market promotions, events, and products. 

Influencer Marketing & UGC Promote Authenticity

Social media giveaways, sponsorships, endorsements, and collaborations can help build lasting partnerships, increase brand awareness, and reach target audiences. Getting your brand in front of fresh eyeballs helps expand your reach but extra exposure is not the only factor. When companies collaborate with social media personalities or industry experts, they add authenticity and credibility to their brand. 

User-generated content campaigns also help improve personalization and audience engagement as content is authentic. Whether it is sound files, videos, tweets, or text created by business partners, influencers, employees, or customers, UGC helps add credibility and an authentic voice to social media campaigns. 

With fake profiles, misleading information, and fake news dominating the media scene, social proof and credibility are now more important than ever. User-generated content also helps humanize brands and makes it easier for companies to cut through the noise. As banner blindness is becoming increasingly common, UGC enables businesses to connect with audiences in a more personal way. 

There is just one problem with using influencer marketing and user-generated content. It can all go wrong and for a variety of reasons. From choosing the wrong person to manage your campaigns to taking a brand-centric approach and having an inadequate outreach strategy, read on to learn more about common mistakes when running influencer marketing and UGC campaigns. 

Influencer Marketing 

1. Downplaying the Importance of Key Performance Indicators

While influencer marketing adds credibility and helps earn a positive reputation, relying on authenticity only, without having specific goals and key performance indicators to measure performance, can be a huge mistake. Key performance indicators to focus on include leads, sign-ups, sales, search traffic, social media following, engagement, and awareness. 

Having specific goals and KPIs allows businesses to target the right audiences and use the best tools and strategies, whether blog posts, contests, giveaways, unboxing, or product placement. This also helps in choosing the right marketing channel and content to share, which can be a YouTube or TikTok video, Instagram brand story or feature post, or Facebook post. Successful marketing campaigns are based on clear goals that underlie the overall marketing strategy and help identify expected outcomes, be it increased brand awareness and social engagement or improved conversions.

Credits: The State of Influencer Marketing 2020 by Linqia

When it comes to measuring success, The State of Influencer Marketing 2020 report shows that the most important indicators for businesses include engagement (71 percent), brand awareness (60 percent), and impressions (60 percent). To judge success, businesses must not solely rely on comments, likes, and other forms of engagement but also look at metrics such as number of registrations, installs, leads, and conversions.

2. Taking a Brand-Centric Approach 

The reason why influencer marketing campaigns are more successful than traditional approaches is that it’s the authentic and honest voice that drives visitors and keeps them engaged. While branded content leads to sales, it is often seen as being biased and deceiving. This is why people go online to get more information before making a purchasing decision. 

Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising report shows that people have more trust in recommendations by friends and family than in branded advertising. Likewise, 70 percent of respondents indicate they trust customer reviews, with 58 percent of respondents reading newspaper articles and other types of editorial content. Speaking of traditional advertising, close to 50 percent of users trust ads in magazines (47 percent), brand sponsorships (47 percent), and ads in newspapers (46 percent). The least trusted sources are text ads on mobile phones (29 percent), ads on social networks (36 percent), and online video advertising (36 percent). 

Sometimes businesses also fall into the trap of over-emphasizing their brand, leaving little room for influencers to come up with the best strategies and approaches. The key to running a successful influencer marketing campaign is to approach online audiences in a more subtle manner, bringing the credibility and character of the influencer into the spotlight. 

3. Engaging the Wrong Influencer 

Influencer marketing is an investment worth making but there are experts of questionable quality and competence. It is important that businesses choose professionals whose tactics, communication channels, vision, and ideas align with the brand. Engaging a big-name celebrity with a large reach and following may not be the best choice if that celebrity’s personality does not resonate with your target audience and brand. 

Scott Disick teams up with BooTea Shake only to ruin their online marketing efforts. The influencer was too lazy even to notice that he had copied the full directions of BooTea’s marketing team and pasted them into his post’s caption.

4. Choosing the Wrong Channels

When looking into different channels, the first thing that comes to mind is factors like following, demographics, interests, age, and gender. But there is more. Instagram is the most popular social media by far but other platforms may be better for niche marketing. Needless to say, each platform offers unique benefits and audiences that may or may not resonate with the elements of your influencer marketing campaign. Instagram, for example, is mainly populated by Millennials and Generation X and Z users. Posts with videos or photos appear in feeds and thus allow marketers to present products and services in a visually appealing way. With more than 2.7 billion users, Facebook is the largest marketplace that is frequented by virtually all age demographics. Influencer marketing allows businesses to reach a large and engaged audience, with 1.82 billion daily active users in November 2020 alone. Facebook also offers a valuable analytics tool, Facebook Insights that allows brands to assess the impact of a campaign on engagement and reach, with an option to view age and gender demographics, relationship statuses, education, etc. 

Influencer Marketing 2019 Industry Benchmarks by Mediakix

That being said, the most influential channels for influencer marketing include Instagram (89 percent), YouTube (70 percent), and Facebook (45 percent). Data by the 2019 Influencer Marketing Survey by Mediakix also shows that the least popular channels are Twitter (32 percent), Pinterest (42 percent), and Twitch (48 percent). Some of the popular formats that influencers follow are posting IGTV, video, stories, and posts on Instagram and using YouTube Live and YouTube Video for live streams and video content. 

5. Not Catering to Organic Creators

Even if you are running an influencer marketing campaign, focusing on your organic content creators pays in the long run. If their followers grow in number, you will have multiple channels to promote your brand. But you have to offer something in return to keep them motivated. Say you are a game developer. Perks can be in the form of tickets to exclusive events, access to new builds, social media presence, graphics, fonts, or assets, or in-game currency. Access to perks can be based on criteria such as high-quality content, minimum views, or regular posts. 

6. Not Being Creative Enough

Running multiple influencer marketing campaigns without changing the format will likely result in low engagement rates and click-through rates. This is because you are targeting the same online audience. What you can do instead is try different sponsorships and new geographies and social media channels. Experiment with things like different platforms, integrated or dedicated content, audience and language geographies, genres, and content. 

User-Generated Content 

7. Downplaying Relatability 

When buyers share their experience with a product or brand, this allows potential customers to read and determine whether a purchase is worth making. For many consumers user-generated content is the most reliable source. A 2012 report by Bazaarvoice titled Talking to Strangers: Millennials Trust People over Brands reveals that for 84 percent of Millennials user-generated content influences purchasing decisions. 

How Boomers and Millennials Use UGC Differently by Olapic

Fifty-one percent of Millennials report that UGC from strangers has more influence on what they buy than recommendations from colleagues, family, and friends. 

The fact is that sharing pain points and positive experiences between past buyers and potential customers builds trust and confidence. Posting a mix of Q&A exchanges, reviews, feedback, and photos helps users get a feel of the multifacetedness and diversity of your brand following and brand community. 

Brand communities form on social media networks as this is where people with similar interests can gather to discuss and share ideas, relate, exchange information and contact details, and communicate. Features that members use for content sharing and socializing include planning meetings, update notifications, chatting, instant messaging, and check-in to private and public locations. 

Social media networks also function as online communities of consumption that influence purchasing behavior. This allows brand communities to develop so that brand aficionados from all walks of life interact, meet, and share experiences and ideas. 

Showing how diverse your brand community is will attract potential customers and some may choose to join in and share brand and product experiences. Even negative sharing has been shown to benefit both consumers and brands. A journal article on negative experience sharing published in Internet Research gives important insights in this relation. Community members who share negative experiences do so to vent feelings, seek support, and reduce stress. Sharing negative experiences can actually increase happiness levels for members who seek and find support. This results in improved group cohesion and member loyalty. Negative experience sharing also gives brands a human face as the idea of a perfect brand or product no longer sells. Today, it is precisely flaws and imperfection that consumers expect from brands as this reflects the imperfection of being human. Besides, perfection can never be as interesting as imperfection. 

8. Offering Prizes No One Wants

It is true that people are willing to do just about anything to earn cash but contributions by random people are not as valuable as content by users who are passionate about your brand and product range. 

Think of prizes that your target audience would love to get, whether it is a gift certificate, your best-selling products, promotional products, vouchers or discounts, or free services. Other options include limited edition products, early access products, and new releases. 

Credits: Buddy’s Pizza Instagram Page

Whatever the product of choice, the most important thing is to offer a prize that helps create excellent user experience and is relevant to your business and brand. This will drive plenty of good quality user-generated content from people who care for your brand. 

Depending on your industry sector, running an event-based contest can be a great way to engage your audience. Valentine’s Day, the day of friendship and romantic love, presents an ideal opportunity to organize a contest. Whether you sell jewelry, flowers, gourmet cheeses, or handmade soaps, a Valentine’s Day contest is likely to generate a lot of interest. 

If you are a travel agency or tour operator, offering travel, hotel stays, and airfare can be a great way to encourage people to create content and increase brand awareness. Fun and memorable activities also make for great prizes that spark audience interest. Examples are snorkeling and scuba diving tours, helicopter tours, and hot air balloon rides. 

Other examples of tried and tested contest prizes include gym memberships, dinner vouchers, VIP event packages, and yearly or monthly subscriptions, again depending on the sector you are operating in. 

9. Not Promoting Contests

Promoting your contest is the key to running a successful campaign now that there are hundreds of thousands of brands competing for attention. Customers, on the other hand, are overwhelmed by marketing and the sheer amount of information presented by brands. The main challenge that companies face is how to position themselves to stand out in the crowd. This you can do by using different types of content to promote your contest – video content with calls to action, infographics, guest posts, white papers and ebooks, and blog posts that spread the word for your campaign. If you have a promotional budget, you may want to consider popular marketing tools such as: 

  • Pinterest images
  • Brand sponsorships
  • Billboard ads
  • Newspaper and magazine print ads
  • Radio ads
  • Retargeted display advertising
  • YouTube videos
  • Promoted Tweets
  • Facebook and Google ads

Needless to say, running a successful contest also involves defining objectives that align with your marketing strategy and business. These can be anything, from increasing social media following and driving new customers to improving brand visibility and promoting a service or product. The next steps in creating a successful contest campaign include defining your target audience, choosing contest format, setting rules, choosing prizes, building a sense of urgency, and monitoring. 

10. Ignoring Haters

Relying on others to create content involves risk. There are always well-wishers and haters that have something to say about a brand, product, movie, celebrity, political figure – you name it. One strategy to adopt is to leave naysayers unaddressed. This may not work in some cases, however. According to Bo Thorp, local managing director of Chimney Group, moderation is the best approach to dealing with haters. Moderation helps ensure that social media users are not only easy to identify but can be held accountable for breaking rules and outright bullying. When you get negative responses, let commenters know you are listening and try to handle honestly. To ensure that moderation is efficient and users understand the rules, Thorp recommends that companies adopt strict policies when it comes to legality, social and political correctness, privacy, originality, and authenticity. 

Taco Bell are being creative in their attempt to defend their brand image on Twitter

The best approach to dealing with haters is a combination of human, community, and automated moderation as part of your risk mitigation strategy. There are four types of risk mitigation – limitation, transference, acceptance, and avoidance. Risks that are best to be avoided involve damage to your brand image and financial loss. Content with a high probability impact for financial harm must be carefully moderated to mitigate risk while offering socially-enabled user experience. 

Takeaways 

Influencer marketing and user-generated content make people more receptive to brand messaging than traditional media. Your campaign is doomed to turn into an epic fail, however, if your marketing strategy is targeting the wrong audience and has inadequate performance metrics, and content is not tailored for the marketing channels you are using. Finding the right influencer is also crucial for the success of your social media campaign. Based on values, lifestyle, niche, and expertise, you will find different types of influencers such as beauty, gaming, and SGI influencers, activists, sports stars, photographers, journalists, actresses/actors, models, etc. Ideally, the person you choose to work with is popular or an expert in your niche and their messaging, image, and values align with your brand. This will help you to establish credibility, increase your brand reach, and drive customer acquisition and sales. User-generated content helps build more personal relationships with potential customers and thus facilitates purchasing decisions. Content is created by people for people. Showcasing real-life experiences adds an authentic voice to your marketing campaign which is what customers need. Distorted content, hoaxes, fake news, and misinformation are flooding social media and branded content seems to be everywhere around us. Because of its human element, user-generated content is shoppable content that helps raise credibility levels and boosts your social media influence. 

Sources: 

https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/article/2012/consumer-trust-in-online-social-and-mobile-advertising-grows/

https://www.linqia.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/The-State-of-Influencer-Marketing-2020.pdf

https://www.statista.com/statistics/346167/facebook-global-dau/

http://media2.bazaarvoice.com/documents/Bazaarvoice_WP_Talking-to-Strangers.pdf

https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/INTR-12-2018-0531/full/html

https://www.ft.com/content/30097a02-a9cb-11e7-ab66-21cc87a2edde

https://www.fourstarzz.com/post/different-types-of-influencers

https://mediakix.com/influencer-marketing-resources/influencer-marketing-industry-statistics-survey-benchmarks/