Influencer Campaign Management Situations to Avoid
Just like social media itself, the world of influencer management is creative, fast-moving, and ever-changing. So it’s not surprising that we run into roadblocks once in a while.
We asked you for the most common situations stymieing your influencer marketing strategy. These true-to-life scenarios (suggested by our community) make life harder both for you AND the influencer.
That’s why we’ve put together this influencer campaign management survival kit, to help you overcome the top seven situations you face every day.
Keep reading to find out what causes these headaches and how to overcome them—or, better yet, how to avoid them in the first place.
Situation #1: The Influencer Doesn’t Follow the Brief
Picture this: You’re releasing a new product, and you’ve got to spread the word. What better way to do it than through influencer marketing?
So you write a creative brief outlining all the content you need, what it should look like, and when you need it. Then you send it off to your influencer of choice.
But when you get the content back, it doesn’t look anything like what you asked for.
Unfortunately, this can be common in the world of influencer marketing. It’s not always easy to find an influencer whose creative vision aligns with yours.
But don’t just take it from us:
Once you do find a compatible influencer to work with, you may still have misunderstandings. So, how do you deal with it?
First, you need to uncover the root of the problem. Some common causes:
- Unclear brief: The brief you provided was unclear or misleading, so the influencer didn’t understand what you wanted
- Communication problems: The influencer isn’t able to ask questions or discuss the brief with you before executing
- Creative mismatch: What you’re asking for doesn’t make sense for that influencer’s style, voice, or typical content production
Let’s go through each one.
How to Handle It: Make Your Briefs Clearer
The first reason an influencer might not have followed your brief? They just didn’t understand it.
An effective influencer brief should be:
- Easy to read and understand
- Comprehensive, containing all relevant information
- Flexible, so that the influencer has the freedom to create their best work
But what does that look like in practice?
Semrush Influencer Marketing Team Lead Nicole Ponce says that you have to strike a balance between creative liberty and concrete guidelines:
Nowadays, we give a lot of influencers the liberty to be creative with their tone of voice, to better align with their audiences. But at the same time, adding detailed specifics is really important, to help the influencer better understand the end goal and what we as a brand partner want to achieve with their help.
With that in mind, a useful brief should include:
- Information about your brand and products, including pronunciations
- Your target audience and your value to them
- Your brand’s visuals and tone of voice, and how that should align with the influencer’s own style
- Examples of previous content the influencer created that align with what you want
- Do’s and don’ts for content creation, including examples of each
- Your goals, and which KPIs you want to track
- Your content review process and timeline
- When and how to report on performance
- Deadlines and posting dates
By taking the time to develop a clearer, more reliable brief, you’ll set a solid foundation for your partnership with that influencer.
How to Handle It: Improve Your Communication
A solid brief is nothing without a healthy flow of communication to back it up. Why? Because then, any unexpected areas of confusion can be resolved quickly.
According to Ponce, this is one of the most common mistakes people make.
One of the most common mistakes? Assuming the influencer is reading your mind. Just because they create content, they’re creative, and have had successful campaigns, that doesn’t mean they fully understand your vision just with what you provide them. In other words, be really detailed with your creative scopes; it will only make both parties work easier.
Providing clear examples of what you want and what to avoid can help. But, if possible, you should also set aside time to discuss your brief with them directly.
This gives influencers the opportunity to:
- Ask clarifying questions
- Flag and address potential problems
- Suggest changes to better suit their audience
Then, once you’ve agreed on a finalized plan, make sure they have a reliable point of contact with your team to keep the lines of communication open.
With this in place, you can collaborate more effectively and avoid additional problems down the line.
How to Handle It: Bridge the Creative Gap Between the Influencer and You
Next, let’s dig a little deeper into why, exactly, your influencer deviated from the provided brief. Often, this is because the influencer had a different creative vision, and they want to stay true to their most authentic voice.
In this case, don’t be afraid to compromise.
Because the influencer has spent time building a relationship with their audience. It’s their voice that their followers trust. And it’s the relationship with their audience that led you to working with them in the first place.
That doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your own vision. Instead, by meeting in the middle, you can create more authentic content that represents both your brand and the influencer well.
Start by reviewing the numbers. Can the influencer provide data to show that their approach is best? If so, you have two options:
- Review whether this influencer’s audience is truly a good fit (the worst case scenario)
- Adjust your strategy to incorporate these new learnings in a way that works for your brand
In most cases, you’ll probably want to go with the second option, and work together to create even more powerful content.
By keeping the lines of communication open and being open to compromises, you can work together more effectively and get the content you want.
Situation #2: Missed Deadlines and Time Constraints
Let’s be honest: We’ve all missed a deadline at some point, despite our best efforts. The same is true in the world of influencer marketing. Ask anyone.
In fact, when we asked, ARI.company CEO Oleh Dankevych said that time was one of the biggest challenges in influencer marketing:
Your influencer campaigns could face delays for many different reasons. For example:
- The influencer is juggling many different campaigns
- The deadlines and posting dates were unclear
- The content review and approval process is too inefficient
- Technical issues prevent a post from going live
- An unexpected emergency delayed content creation
To completely eliminate this problem, you’d probably need to invent time travel.
Since that’s not possible, the next best thing is to set yourself up for success in spite of it.
How to Avoid It: Set Clear but Flexible Deadlines
Whether you’re working with an influencer or your internal team, the truth remains the same: If you want somebody to hit a deadline, you’ve first got to set them up for success.
To do this, make sure your deadlines are:
- Reasonable: Give your influencers enough time to create your content without burning out
- Clearly communicated: Share the correct dates in multiple formats (e.g., out loud on a call, in a recap email, and displayed prominently on a brief that everyone receives)
- Easy to find: Keep your briefs, calendars, and other references in a central location where everyone who needs to can access them easily
Next, where possible, build flexibility into your campaigns:
- Know what you can move around in a pinch, and how
- Plan in advance how you’ll work around posting delays
- Have a backup plan in case important content falls through
Why make your deadlines flexible?
In a best case scenario, you won’t need to move anything around because everything will be on time. But you never know what obstacles will appear in your path. If you do run into a major roadblock, these backup plans will make them much easier to deal with.
How to Handle It: Stay on Top of Campaign Management
Delays don’t only happen on the influencer’s end. The unfortunate truth is that sometimes we’re responsible for our own setbacks.
Avoid creating unnecessary delays with an organized campaign management process. An influencer campaign management tool can help with this. For our example, we’ll use Influencer Analytics, which you can find in the Semrush App Center.
Here’s how it works.
First, create your campaign by documenting:
- Campaign details (including name, dates, description, budget, expected views, CPM, and CPC)
- Audience requirements, including platforms, region, and target demographics
- Your personalized workflow for managing and approving content
- Content types and formats
Then, add each influencer you’re working with to the campaign. With all that in place, you can manage and approve content, and even report on your campaign’s progress so far, all from one central location.
With an efficient campaign management system in place, you’ll always have access to the information you need, when you need it—enabling you to support your team and your influencers more effectively.
Situation #3: Big Audience, Small Results
When you’re brand-new to influencer marketing, choosing the right influencer probably seems relatively straightforward. Your checklist might look something like this:
- Is available
- Has a big audience
- Is using the right platform
The problem here may seem obvious if you’ve got a little more experience. All the same, this remains one of the most pervasive myths about influencer marketing: The bigger the audience, the more impact their posts and comments will have.
Staffordshire University Senior Lecturer Paul Dobson agrees:
The truth is a little more complicated than that.
A macro-influencer with an enormous following is great. But are their followers really the right audience for you? Not necessarily.
If your content is poorly aligned with the audience that’s actually seeing it, you’re probably not going to get the results you’re looking for. It’s as simple as that.
So, how do you know if it’s a poor fit?
Even if it’s enormous, an influencer’s audience might not be right for you if:
- They’re not targeting the right demographic
- The influencer’s content does not align well with your product or values
- Their engagement rate is low
How to Avoid It: Do More Audience Research
Save “future you” a few headaches by doing a little research before signing on the dotted line.
For example, let’s say that you want to use Influencer Analytics to find a new influencer for a YouTube campaign. All you have to do is visit the Influencer Discovery tab and select YouTube.
From here, use the filters to narrow your search by category, industry, verification status, price, and more.
Then, review your options by comparing subscriber count, cost, and quality score. Once you find a promising candidate, click to learn more about them, including their audience growth, engagement rate and posting histories.
Next, spend some time reviewing their content manually. Ask yourself:
- What topics or products are they promoting?
- What type of content is the most successful for them?
- What types of people appear to be the most engaged?
- How well does their overall style and voice align with your brand?
Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions about their audience and their approach to content creation.
By spending a little more time on research up front, you and your future influencers can enter a partnership with confidence.
Situation #4: Low-Quality Content
When it comes to influencer marketing, successful strategies all have one important thing in common: high-quality, authentic content that resonates with the target audience.
So, what do you do when your influencer’s content simply does not measure up?
In short, review it and provide feedback before anything gets posted.
How to Handle It: Incorporate Feedback Into Your Content Development Process
As amazing as it would be to get perfect content on the first try every time, it’s not always so easy. But that doesn’t mean it can’t get there with some constructive feedback and revisions.
So, how do you give constructive feedback to your influencers?
I like receiving direct feedback about my content from the brands because I want to ensure I fit their narrative. The last thing you want in a brand + content creator relationship is not to be direct and then the content isn’t what everyone wants. For the content to stand out both parties need to be proud of it so that the audience feels it.
Start by reviewing the content and defining the problem. Low-quality content comes in all shapes and sizes; yours could be:
- Low quality (poor lighting, low resolution, etc.)
- Poorly edited or in the wrong tone or style
- In conflict with your brief or brand guidelines
When doing your review, make sure to differentiate between “must-haves” (the issues you can’t budge on) and “nice to haves” (issues you can live with).
Why? Because then you can prioritize the most important issues rather than spinning your wheels on something cosmetic.
Then, use your findings as a basis for your constructive feedback.
Effective feedback should include:
- Specific issues to correct
- How to correct those issues
- Which pieces of content were impacted
Try to be as specific and actionable as possible. For example:
Then, give your influencer partner a chance to respond. Let them ask questions and even suggest alternatives that might work better for their audience. This way, you can produce content that you’re both proud of.
How to Avoid It in the Future: Review and Clarify Your Briefs
Once you’ve successfully completed the feedback and revision process, it’s time to look inward and eliminate any communication issues on your end. Do this by going back and reviewing your briefs to try to prevent any of these hiccups from happening again.
Remember, a clear brief should include:
- An easily understandable description of the content you want
- Image and writing guidelines for creators to follow
- Examples of poor- and high-quality content for reference
If any of this information is unclear or missing, consider updating your brief templates or your processes to ensure no information is missing in the future.
Situation #5: Completed Campaign, Incomplete Reporting
You’ve done it. You’ve recruited your ideal influencer, planned a campaign with them, and started to post content.
So, how is it performing?
In an ideal world, your influencers would always share all the first-party data you need and more so you can evaluate your campaigns and make strategic adjustments to hit your goals.
First-party data is any data collected directly from the source rather than going through an intermediary (i.e., third-party data). In this case, the source is the influencer themselves, typically reporting from the social platform in question (e.g., Instagram Analytics or Facebook Page Insights).
Unfortunately, in the real world, getting that data from them is not always so easy.
There are plenty of reasons this could be an issue. For example:
- They don’t understand why data is so important for you
- They’re not sure how to provide it
- The reporting process is too confusing or time-consuming
So, how do you get the data you need when you need it?
How to Avoid It: Set Your Reporting Expectations Early
Whether you’re managing an influencer campaign or ordering dinner, the facts remain the same: You won’t get something if you don’t ask for it first. So if you want your influencers to report on their results (which you probably do), make sure you’re asking for it in advance.
Ideally, this ask should be included in your brief.
Make sure your influencers know:
- What data you need from each platform
- Where to find it
- Why you need it
- When and how to deliver it
In many cases, influencers will already be familiar with the analytics dashboards on their respective platforms, and they won’t need much guidance. However, that’s not always the case. So, be prepared to provide more detailed instructions, including:
- Where to go to find the data you’re asking for
- How to screenshot or export the data
- How to format it before sending it to you
By making your requests early and supporting influencers by answering questions, you’ll eliminate unnecessary roadblocks between you and the data you need.
How to Handle It: Collect the Data Yourself
Even if you’re asking for first-party data in your brief, consider collecting some of it yourself. This way, if there are any unexpected delays, discrepancies, or changes, you can address them quickly.
While you probably don’t have access to your influencers’ analytics dashboards, you can still get third-party data using other tools.
For example, if you’re using Influencer Analytics to manage your campaign, just click “Report.”
If possible, try to get multiple data sources: your influencer and yourself (like in Influencer Analytics). This way, even if you run into challenges, you won’t be managing your campaign blind.
Situation #6: No Engagement from the Influencer’s Audience
It happens to all of us eventually. You create the perfect campaign, partnering with your favorite influencer. Everything gets published on time. Then… Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
No engagement whatsoever.
What the heck happened? Well, successful influencers aren’t always the ones with the biggest audience. Despite this, the idea that the biggest audience is best is one of the biggest myths about influencer marketing.
But often, the opposite is true. Some micro-influencers, despite their smaller reach, have a higher engagement rate than their massive counterparts.
So, what do you do if your influencer’s audience just isn’t connecting?
How to Avoid It: Research Potential Influencers in Advance
As with so many other challenges, if you want to avoid low engagement, it all goes back to making sure you are partnering with the right people.
Set yourself up for success by working with influencers with a solid engagement rate whose content aligns with your brand’s values and perspective.
Once you find a promising influencer with a good engagement rate, analyze some of the successful content they post. Look for:
- Similar perspective (e.g., you both try to help the environment)
- Similar value to the audience (e.g., they’re a popular food blogger, and your brand sells affordable cookware)
- Content types and styles that would work well for your brand
Although it doesn’t totally eliminate risk, with this knowledge you can launch your campaigns with confidence so that you’ll earn the engagement you need.
How to Handle It: Work Together to Improve Engagement
Okay. But what do you do if you’ve already started working with an influencer whose engagement is too low?
Once again, start by doing research. Is this engagement rate typical of their other content, or an outlier?
If it’s an outlier, compare your content to the posts that do get results. Is it:
- Written or edited in a different style?
- Using better hashtags?
- A different kind of product?
- A different type of content altogether?
Make a note of all the key differences. Then, where possible, start incorporating these new elements into your brand’s content.
For example, you could:
- Adjust your tone to better align with the successful cases. For example, if funny posts do better for that influencer, look for ways to inject more humor.
- Start using different content formats. For example, if Instagram Reels are their best-performing post type, add them to your strategy.
- Adjust your value proposition to better align with the audience. For example, if an influencer’s followers respond better to emotional messaging than monetary value, rework your content to emphasize these points.
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to low engagement. Each brand, influencer, and audience is unique—and so your solution may also be. Don’t be afraid to test a few ideas before you discover your best path forward.
Situation #7: Proving Your ROI (Return on Investment)
This is a familiar challenge for any marketer, but especially for influencer campaigns: How do you prove the ROI (return on investment) for your work?
Have you found yourself in this position? If so, you’re not alone.
Just take it from Jake Bohall, Co-Founder of Hive Digital. Measuring ROI is one of the toughest parts of influencer marketing: