Influencer marketing is the new buzz term currently making the rounds. In the age of social media demigods, it stands to reason that big (and small) name brands would find a way to harness these individuals’ sphere of social influence, all in the name of extending their almighty reach. Essentially, influencers are people who have large social media followings and who advocate for your brand. The reason it works is because people are more likely to trust an ‘impartial’ outsider than the official party line from the company itself.

The Social Media Manager  at Vision Direct, Daniele Milani, says that “the key to success in Influencer Marketing is to identify who your potential customers are and how you should approach them”. Done right, it can work like a dream for the visibility and authenticity of a company, but done wrong? That’s something you really want to avoid. It can cause long lasting damage to the image and perception of your brand. Here are 5 ways NOT to do influencer marketing. Make sure you know them all!

1) Not disclosing that your influencer is working for you

This is kind of illegal, don’t do it. If you’re paying an influencer to push your brand or create some content connected to your brand, then you need to make sure they make it clear that this is the case. The FTC has confirmed that even something as simple as #BrandnamePartner or #sponsored is good enough for clarification.

2) Not fully embracing the wondrous world of social media platforms

We know, insta is like a dream come true for influencer marketing, but there ARE other platforms out there that can work just as well. The giant names still have a lot to give; for example 60 % of millennial YouTube subscribers say they would make a purchasing decision based on the recommendation of their favorite YouTube star over that of a TV or movie star. Similarly, Pinterest is another platform where you can get a lot of coverage from influencers and drive a lot of potential traffic back to your site.

However, don’t get stuck on the big names alone; look for smaller name platforms, such as 21Buttons (if you are in operating within the fashion industry), or (for influencers in the gaming/computer/software industries). Furthermore, be aware of what is popular in different global markets. For example, Polyvore is a platform that has extensive reach within the US, and to some extent Australia, but is still relatively unknown within Europe.

3) Spamming your potential fan base

Have a consistent but measured presence; nothing drives people away more than their feed being drowned in your posts. Especially if they’re boring and generic. Don’t advertise, instead, work to create useful content. Get your influencer to be creative about your product, and find a way to make the post a relevant one to your audience.

4) Falling for the Red Herrings

Daniele also warns of the dangers of ‘fake influencers’. He says that “it has become easier to purchase likes and followers, and it’s easy to strike a deal with someone that pretends to have 50,000 followers, but in actual fact has a ‘real’ reach of only 1 or 2000 people”. He recommends using digital tools that allow you to spot these fake influencers, and to do your research thoroughly before entering into any financial agreement with a potential influencer. This is especially important if your marketing strategy relies heavily on influencer partnerships.

5) Resting on your laurels

You’ve got some influencers on your side, and they’re spreading the word like wildfire; great news! But don’t stop there. Look at ways you can go forwards, even sideward. Push into spheres that maybe are nontraditional for your industry. Be a trailblazer. Work with influencers who could give your brand a new spin or take it to a different, fresh audience. Enjoy your achievement, pat yourself on the back, and then reach for the next rung on the ladder.

In summation, influencer marketing is a trend that can drive brand awareness and really make a difference to the social visibility and perception of your company. Daniele states that it “can be a powerful tool to present you product or brand to the world, but you need to define carefully where and how you want to focus your activities”. Used well, it can be a key tool in cultivating a new market and ultimately aiding in increasing revenue. Make sure you know exactly what you want to get out of the relationship, and how it can best be used to benefit your brand. Good luck!