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Here’s How You Don’t Get Burned with Influencer Marketing

We’ve written before about the traps of influence marketing. As one who is compensated from time to time as an influencer, I’m skeptical of how many influence marketing relationships are setup.

Case in point, earlier this year I was invited to the Brickyard because I’m a local influencer on social media. There were a bunch of folks invited from social media – all with high scores on a popular influence scoring engine for Indianapolis. The track provided parking passes and suite tickets and went all out with the event. I didn’t actually go – I had a conflict at the last minute.

One of my friends did go and he joked how, at one point, a famous driver walked by them and no one even realized it… they had to ask who he was before they threw some photos out on social media. What a bust! The influence campaign missed on all cylinders (get it?) and I actually tried contacting the track the moment I was invited to make sure they didn’t waste their money. No one ever called me back. I was even at an event where I requested some time with a key person that’s helping promote the track… he brushed me off, too.

There are 3 specific elements of a successful influencer marketing strategy and this campaign missed all of them:

  1. Does the audience of the influencer match the audience you’re trying to reach? The track would have been far better off inviting people with 100 followers interested in racing than with me who has 30k followers of which I have no idea if any care about racing because I never talk about racing.
  2. Was there a story for the influencer to share with their audience that would resonate? Showing up, eating free food, drinking beer, and going to the track for free isn’t a story. It would have been phenomenal to have the track speak about the family connection, the history, the drivers, the technology… anything but beer pics.
  3. Was there a call to action to measure the impact of the campaign? Okay, so there may have been a spike in share-of-voice that day because all these social influencers talked about the Brickyard. Haha! I’m totally kidding – there was NO spike because there were already hundreds of thousands of real fans talking about the race! These influencers didn’t change anything.

If the goal was to get people from outside the typical fan to the track, it didn’t help. I didn’t hear a story that was compelling…. in fact I heard NO story outside of my buddy who laughed about getting a free ticket. The stories that needed told should have aligned with strategies that tie into our decision to make a purchase.

So much more could have been done to hold the people accountable that visited there. Perhaps a pamphlet on having their next social conference at the track, perhaps a discount code to share with people about the track, perhaps a list of tweets, updates and photo ops that were coordinated to engage with users about the stories on why they should go to the track, what events are coming up next and where to buy tickets.

If you’re going to pay or give away something to influencers, be sure that it’s going to work for you! I’m not opposed to influencer marketing at all, it’s just that it’s not easy as looking up influencers on some site and throwing them all some free tickets. This could have been so much better!

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is CMO of OpenINSIGHTS and the founder of the Martech Zone. Douglas has helped dozens of successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to assist companies in implementing and automating their sales and marketing strategies. Douglas is an internationally recognized digital transformation and MarTech expert and speaker. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

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