Influencer marketing may have started as a small-scale online marketing channel where celebrities could promote corporate brands, but since then, it’s evolved to become a global phenomenon that involves thousands of versatile brands and reaching billions of consumers worldwide.
There’s no doubt about it: brands are eager to partner and collaborate with micro-influencers and influencers to reach their target audiences, gain more exposure, and increase sales. And this is because consumers are increasingly looking for authenticity in a product-driven world where they are bombarded by advertisements. Did you know that the average person sees between 4,000 to 10,000 ads per day? You may not realize it, but ads are in front of you by the dozens on social media channels and on websites in your peripheral.
This constant overflow of promotion puts influencers in a unique position to earn income through an effective influencer marketing platform. When a consumer trusts or feels closer and connected to an individual on any other social media site, they are more likely to heed their advice. Product recommendations that come from everyday people feel more authentic to buyers, and you can leverage this influence to earn money.
With a monthly active audience of over one billion users, Instagram is one of the most effective and preferred platforms for brands looking to promote their products. And that means plenty of opportunity for influencers as well. Whether you’re a budding Instagram influencer or you’ve been promoting products on the platform for a while, it’s important that you always leave a good first impression with brands and your audience.
However, as more people strive to become influencers and influencer marketing platforms appear left and right, the right and wrong way to build a social brand becomes muddled. As a potential or growing influencer it’s important for you to grow organically and take precaution when it comes to building a brand. Early mistakes can decimate your influencer career entirely. Knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what steps to take. With that in mind, here’s what you should avoid as an influencer:
Not Signing Up for An Influencer Marketing Program
If you want to make money as an influencer, you absolutely need to join an influencer marketing program. Influencer marketing programs like Scalefluence put you directly in front of the people you want to reach; brands and agencies looking for potential influencers who can help promote their products and services. There are many influencer marketing programs to choose from. Once you’ve joined, create a thorough profile, set your price (be realistic based on your current stats), connect your account, and you’re ready to go.
Saying “Yes” to Any Brand That Approaches You
As an influencer, you have taken time to find a niche that you’re truly passionate about and interested in. Additionally, you’ve worked hard to build a community of engaged and loyal followers by consistently producing quality content for them. Even if you’re a new influencer and are still working to grow your audience, you shouldn’t just give in to any brand that comes your way. Although it might be tempting to take an offer when there’s money on the table, take heed; you’ve built a loyal following because people trust your recommendations. If you start to promote any business simply because they’re paying you, you’ll lose your trust and, ultimately, your following.
Unfortunately, many influencers are quick to say yes to anyone offering them a deal without determining whether they are a good fit. It’s important that you evaluate every brand or agency that approaches you to make sure their values and content align with your niche. You want to work with brands that share the same values as yours so you can remain authentic and consistent with your audience.
Using Hashtags Poorly
Hashtags are one of the most important aspects of growing your social reach and promoting your personal brand on Instagram. They not only make your content discoverable but also encourage audience interactions. Instagram posts with at least one hashtag have been shown to get more engagement from the audience than those that don’t have any.
While Instagram allows users to include up to 30 hashtags on each of their posts, using too many isn’t a good idea. It can make your content look spammy. Anywhere between two to five is fine. And make sure you’re using relevant hashtags only.
Mostly Sponsored Content
Of course, in order to succeed on an influencer marketing platform, you have to work with brands. However, it’s very important that you stagger your partnerships out so that your social media channels don’t start looking like a sales page. Bottom line: your Instagram should consist of majority original content. Not only does this help you to continue to build out a genuine brand, but it helps build loyalty with your followers.
Failure to Adhere to FTC Guidelines
The Federal Trade Commission is a government agency mandated to protect consumers from deceptive and unfair marketing practices in any medium. According to the FTC, influencers must disclose any partnership or relationship they may have with brands within their posts. If you’re promoting a product or service on your page, you are required to highlight it either as a paid or sponsored post. If you don’t know the FTC rules and guidelines, this might be a good time to check them out. Failure to follow the guidelines could easily leave you with penalties and liabilities.
Buying Fake Followers and Engagement
It’s not uncommon for new influencers to purchase likes and followers on Instagram and other social networking sites. And it always doesn’t end well—they have thousands of followers who don’t engage with their posts as they lack interest in the content. Taking that route would most certainly lead you to this exact destination.
It may appear to be the easier route, but it will tarnish your reputation. If you truly want to attract the right brand sponsorships and grow your personal brand, focus on creating quality content in your niche and curating genuine engagement from your audience. Don’t rely on bots or comment pods.
Not Using Content Planners
Whether you consider yourself a pro at planning or you’re someone who’s okay with having clutter, there’s no debate that mapping out your days and weeks makes your work much easier. And this applies to your Instagram influencer work as well.
Having a tool for planning and scheduling all your content in advance allows you to publish your posts more often and better engage your followers. Furthermore, it gives you more time for things that are really important. Instagram-specific content planners such as Later, Postcron, Schedugram, HopperHQ, and Preview are great tools that can help you manage and schedule your feed on the platform. Not using content planners can make your work more stressful and cause you to be less productive.
Content planners allow your brand image to remain consistent as well. Take a look at lifestyle influencer Aspyn Ovard’s page; notice how the imagery and color scheme is consistent throughout.
Notice how the color scheme and editing helps reinforce the brand of the entire page. The same can be said for Courtney and Nate, travel bloggers who offer advice on van life.
You should also post a mix of content so that you have a nice ratio of image focus types. Take a look at Valerie Cazares’ Instagram page, where there’s a healthy content split of architecture shots, selfies, and landscapes.
Posting Irrelevant Content
As mentioned, the first thing anyone looking to become an influencer has to do is to identify a topic or idea they’re passionate about within a specific niche. And the content you create and post on your page has to be consistent with your niche so you don’t confuse your audience. Your followers expect to come to your page and find the same type and quality of content every time. Posting content that doesn’t relate to your niche can make your audience lose interest in following you, and that’s not something you want.
One way to ensure you’re always posting relevant content is to hone in on your niche. Write a brand statement for yourself that you can reference over and over. It should list the niche you want to focus on, the audience you want to cultivate, the brand tags you’ll use consistently, and even a few brands and influencers who emulate the content style you admire more.
Posting Low-Quality Images
You probably already know that Instagram is a highly competitive platform, especially for budding influencers looking to boost engagement rates and grow their following. As such, you need to be creative to make your brand stand out. And since Instagram is mainly a photo and video sharing platform, posting high-quality, captivating photos can help you connect with your followers and engage your audience better.
Posting low-quality images can hurt your personal brand. Invest in a good camera and powerful photo editing tools so you can enhance and beautify your images before posting them. Keep in mind that you don’t have to be a professional photographer to edit your photos beautifully. If you don’t like the technical side of editing photos, invest in a few Lightroom presets. Lightroom (an Adobe photo editing software with a mobile app) presets are handcrafted filters designed to fit a variety of aesthetics. While you can find plenty of presets for free, there are many professionally premade options on platforms like Etsy and Envato. Here are just a few of the search results for “lightroom presets” on Etsy:
Not Giving Photo Credit When Applicable
Many influencers share content from other content creators from time to time if they believe it will be valuable to their followers. They might be sharing user-generated content or content from users that they simply admire. If you do decide to do this, always be sure to include an original photo credit in your description. If you fail to do this, you’re essentially stealing content and passing it off as your own, even if this isn’t what you intended to do.