6 Reasons Why Influencer Marketing Turns Negative

January 9, 2018 / by Shiho Hashimoto Shiho Hashimoto

6 Reasons Why Influencer Marketing Turns Negative

Negativity in influencer marketing stems from both your and your influencers’ misunderstanding of the audience, which can severely damage your brand image.

Your influencer marketing will lose its balance if you start seeing multiple negative signs. For example, people might complain that their Instagram’s home page looks like a magazine, full of advertisements under the disguise of beautiful influencer-made photos. Or the number of followers drastically drops within a short time. Unless you initiate a proper investigation, you won’t really know why your audience turned a cold shoulder on you.

Here are 6 reasons why your influencer marketing goes askew. By anticipating these roots, you can avoid a disaster with your influencer marketing campaigns.

#1. Your influencer’s personal scandal

Sometimes, even the best-performing influencers get caught up in personal scandals. This is unpredictable, so a systematic and continuous monitoring of your influencers on social media is critical.

Let's take PewDiePie as an example of rapid change in the public sentiment.

Felix Kjellberg (aka. PewDiePie) has been one of the most successful YouTubers in the world. Currently, he has over 58 million subscribers to his YouTube channel and has acquired a great fortune from video-making, advertisement, and sponsorships. PewDiePie’s business evolved when he started investing in a joint venture with Disney's Maker Studio in 2014. However, this business relationship got cut right after Wall Street Journal's investigation on PewDiePie's video content against the Jewish in early 2017.

Google search with words “PewDiePie anti-semitic.” Approximately 71 700 articles are talking about the anti-semitic content in one of PewDiePie’s Youtube videos. Whether the anti-semitic content was a joke (as PewDiePie claimed) or not, doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is the extreme reaction from the audience, which he probably hadn’t expected before uttering "the joke." As a successful social influencer with millions of eyes on him, PewdiePie should have known that sensitive topics can be a wrecking ball damaging his influencer career.

When a brand is associated with an influencer who is getting negative attention, that negativity also reflects to the brand. In this case, Disney’s Maker Studio took pre-emptive steps to protect their brand from foreseeable damage and cut relationships with PewDiePie immediately.


#2. Lack of communication with influencers

If you have multiple influencers promoting your brand, it is quite understandable that you would not have enough time to have in-depth discussions with each of them on a regular basis. But stop for a moment to see the big picture.

You and your influencers have business relationships. Your influencers recommend your brand to their audience pool, and in exchange, you are paying commission to them or giving them your products. And these influencer might have contracts with other brands at the same time, so they cannot pay 100% attention to your brand. That's why you need to communicate with them to keep them up-to-date and active.

You should schedule at least a monthly timeslot to discuss with your influencers about what your goals are and how you both can keep your audience entertained and happy. Creating trust and understanding between you and your influencers are essential ingredients to the success of your collaboration. Besides understanding their own feeling towards your brand/service, you can help influencers grasp basic knowledge of your product/service they are promoting and be more creative. Also, your influencers will need your support when they are in some kind of trouble related to your brand with their audience.

Your influencer marketing might also fail if you don't understand your influencer's primary motivation. With regular communication, you can determine your influencer’s motivation for your business partnership. Some influencers might merely work with you because of the irresistible financial gain, which might cause problem for you in the long-run. These types of influencers may abandon you whenever they receive a more profitable deal from another brand.


#3. Low-quality content

This may be the most terrific problem which leads to audience’s indifference towards an influencer.

Suppose that, instead of choosing mega-influencers (such as celebrities) to promote your brand, you decide to work with micro-influencers for their creativity and effort to produce authentic and unique content. After working for a while, your (micro-)influencers will become more experienced and possibly increase their follower count, which means that your audience pool will also increase.

This is when a trade-off happens. The ever-growing follower count may put pressure on your influencers to produce more content, so to keep their audience's attention. This inevitably leads to a situation where each post and photos are made so quickly without putting too much effort into them, resulting in low-quality content.

The decline in the content quality may also stem from your demanding expectations. For example, it is important to come up with a reasonable publishing schedule that is agreed mutually, such as posting 5 times a week or once a week. Depending on how many sponsors the influencers may have, influencers need time to brainstorm ideas, build a plan, prepare necessary tools, and create them. Having excessively demanding contracts with influencers would drain their energy, motivation, and creativity. And when followers see the decline in the quality of the content, they typically stop “following” them. The quality of the content that is published is so critical. Make sure that you don’t compromise on that.


#4. Greedy marketers

Do you have a specific plan to work with your influencers? How many influencers are you currently working with? Only one? Then you should work with more to widen your brand’s visibility scope. But too many will also cause trouble.

The number of influencers working with you matters to your business. Marketing professionals sometimes hire as many influencers as possible, in order to increase brand awareness immediately in different social media platforms. You might get disillusioned by the increase of likes, retweets and shares without paying any attention to the sentiment in these reactions.

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So are you confident to say that your target audience writes positive things about your brand based on the number of likes, comments and followers while you are working with 10 influencers? How can you monitor all of the data? If you work with too many influencers, you will not have enough time to manage each comment and you might miss seeing negative comments that mention your brand. It is literally impossible to assess the sentiment of all comments related to your brand manually.

It is high time that you evaluate your company’s KPIs and make sure that sentiment score is included in that. Don’t concentrate only on the quantitative scores but also on the qualitative.


#5. Commercialized social platforms

Influencer marketing has become so wide-spread by now that it is somewhat like the “bubble” period. And bubbles tend to explode when it gets too big. You should take pre-emptive action before influencer marketing hits back at you.

Until recently, working with influencers led to desired outcomes for brands, such as increase in engagement, brand awareness and sales revenue. Huge amount of investment is being poured into influencers’ pockets everyday and the number of fancy photos, for example on Instagram, correspondingly increases.

Imagine yourself as an ordinary social media user. You might get annoyed when you see yourself surrounded by posts with too many noisy captions such as “buy it now”, “get discount by xx”,or “brand ambassador”. You even see brand names, logos, products, or promotions that appear more frequently than photos and posts of your friends and family. Many people are starting to face this problem.

One way to avoid this for now is to make sure that your influencers do not use so much business tone in their posts and make the brand promotional part as subtle as possible.  


#6. Too many calls-to-action

There is so much information available now, including on social media platforms, that our average attention span has shortened significantly. That’s why your influencers’ posts should be short and catchy but that doesn’t mean that you would just be using plain call-to-actions such as “buy now!” or “click the link to get discount”.

I’m not saying it is a completely bad approach but high frequency of call-to-action might give the audience an impression that these “people” they are following are becoming unofficial sales representatives of a brand. As said in point 5, you should use as little business tone as possible.  Influencers must consider the best content for both the brand they are promoting and mingle it with their tone and color.

Creativity is always the key. You should keep in mind that people love seeing something fun, unique and meaningful. Tell a story. And use images to tell that story. Images capture people’s attention much more than texts, when they are scrolling through information so quickly.


Bottom line

How the audience reacts to your influencers post is something you should consider. Regular and in-depth communication with your influencers is a starting point but it’s not enough. You should have a professional service that analyzes your influencers activities as well as their audience’s sentiment towards those posts to see how effective your influencer marketing campaigns are performing. Seriously, have you measured the ROI of your influencer marketing activities? If not, start the new year with self-confidence that all the bucks you put into influencer marketing is actually bearing fruit (or not).

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Tags: Brands, Marketing, Social Analytics, Social Media, Social Media Consultation, Brand Ambassadors, Brand Insight, Brand Management, Communication, Crisis Management, Big Data, Influencer Analysis, Influencer Marketing, Sentiment Analysis, Social Listening, Brand Visibility Metrics, ROI Measurement, Audience Response, Social Media Alerts, Social Media Monitoring, Brand Health Index

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