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3 Influencer Marketing Mistakes Brands Will Make in 2018

Written by Melanie Newberry | 12-Feb-2018 14:09:32

If we were to go back just five years ago, names such as Zoella, PewDiePie and Logan Paul wouldn’t mean much to the average 30+ year old. Today, however, bloggers, vloggers and YouTubers are household names and have an unprecedented power in the marketing industry, which has led brands to invest millions of pounds getting their products into the right hands.

But with YouTube full of unboxing videos, monthly favourites and one brand tutorials, High Street stores plastered with YouTuber faces and new collaborations being announced all the time, are brands taking the time to ensure that their influencer marketing will stand out and deliver results?

Here are three mistakes that brands not keeping on top of the public mood towards influencers will make in 2018:  

1. Failing to Assess the Authority of an Influencer’s Sponsored Content

We can probably all agree that the biggest benefit of having a blogger recommend our product is their sense of authority and trustworthiness. Their viewers see them as impartial and down-to-earth; almost a friend that just happens to know a lot about their specialism. That all goes out the window however, as soon as an audience learns that their “friend” has been paid to recommend a product to them.

To stay on the right side of the CMA, bloggers must let their audience know when they’ve received an incentive to promote something. Most have become very good at putting a positive spin on their no-longer-impartial views by promising to never recommend a product that they don’t truly believe in, but as viewers wise-up to just how much money their internet “friends” are making from their purchases there’s a distinct taste of cynicism in the air these days.

 Credit: JaackMaate / YouTube

The perfect example of this is the scandal surrounding the Zoella Advent Calendar that peaked in November 2017. Vlogger products are often met with a little cynicism nowadays from critics, but what was interesting about the Zoella scandal was the number of fans who criticised their idol this time. A quick skim of the reviews on the Boots website will give you an insight into the backlash, with many fans calling the calendar “overpriced”, “a rip-off” and even “exploitive of young children”.  

Credit: Boots

Boots were forced to cut the price of the calendar by 50% after being bombarded with complaints and poor reviews, and Zoella filmed a short apology for the disappointment, claiming that it was Boots that decided on the price and not her. Things did not blow over quickly, with seven-year-old tweets that did not show Zoella in a good light soon surfacing and forcing another apology from the YouTuber. Her YouTube channels haven’t seen an upload in the first three weeks of 2018 and it will be very interesting to see how any future product releases are approached to gain back some of her authority.  

So, the mistake to avoid here when working with influencers in 2018 is to only establish how authoritative an influencer is within their industry and fail to assess how much authority their sponsored content has. Have they had a PR scandal in the past for promoting something out-of-character or over-priced? Do their sponsored posts receive significantly less engagement than their organic posts? Is their channel full of sponsored posts with multiple brands? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you may want to rethink whether they have the right authority to promote your campaign. 

2. Failing to Spot a PR Crisis Waiting to Happen

If an influencer is big enough to be scrutinised by the media then the likelihood is that they’re going to cause at least one controversy in their career; particularly if they’re young, inexperienced and broadcasting their every whim to millions of subscribers on a daily basis. But as bloggers have made the switch from teen influencers to household names, those little blips can quickly become career-ending errors and can cause damage to associated brand campaigns.

The latest influencer to make headlines for the wrong reasons is Vine-star-turned-YouTuber; Logan Paul.  The twenty-two-year-old star caused outrage after filming an apparent suicide victim in Japan, and for footage from the same trip which showed him being disrespectful of Japanese culture. YouTube responded by removing him from the Google Preferred premium advertising programme, and pausing all projects with him “indefinitely”.

 Credit: Logan Paul / YouTube

Brands wishing to work with influencers shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that a lack of past indiscretions means an influencer is safe to work with. A close inspection of use of language, political leanings (or lack thereof), public behaviour, associated influencers and more can flag up any potential problems that conflict with brand values. PewDiePie’s reckless discourse during gaming sessions hinted at a PR crisis on the horizon long before Disney were forced to end their associations with him.

3. Failing to Value Audience Quality over Quantity

It’s easy to be impressed and distracted by a large follower count, and reporting a reach in the millions is sure to get you a nod of approval from the big boss, but in 2018 you need to be looking further than the quantity and working a little harder to understand the quality of an influencer’s audience. Top tier bloggers will certainly get your product in front of a large number of people, but if they’re the wrong people then your campaign simply will not succeed.

 Credit: Alice Living / Instagram

Primark are particularly skilled at getting the right influencers excited about their products, and have a broad network of quality influencers for each department. Their beauty ranges are all over YouTube makeup tutorials, fitness influencers are posing and performing in their workout clothing, and they have tapped-up the most accessible and down-to-earth fashion bloggers to talk about their affordable clothing ranges. Primark have understood their various niches across products and departments, and targeted the most appropriate influencers for the job, instead of being seduced by a big following that simply wouldn’t shop with them.

Brands should make the mistake of chasing numbers over engagement and conversion at their peril this year. When Snickers chose to team up with Katie Price for their “you’re not you when you’re hungry campaign” by asking her to post confusing tweets about economics, the joke went down like a lead balloon with her followers, even causing complaints to the ASA for misleading advertising!


2018 is shaping up to be another exciting year for influencer marketing, with lots of opportunity for brands to grow their audiences and reach. Contact us today for expert advice and guidance on how to get your content into the right hands!