The marketing world has realized the power of social media heavyweights.
In the right situations, they can lead to increased brand awareness and significant sales, but some companies have become overindulgent, showering social media influencers with attention, perks, money and gifts—sometimes far exceeding the value those influencers provide.
Marketers want influencers to enjoy the best possible experience in hopes of generating positive coverage, but these efforts can quickly spin out of control.
I work in the hotel industry, which has always rolled out the red carpet for VIP customers.
Some hoteliers have started to shower influencers with luxuries: personalized dinner menus, helicopter tours and monogrammed robes. It’s a bit excessive.
It’s easy to see how loyal customers might be put off when they see posts from influencers who have enjoyed these extravagant experiences. Influencer partnerships designed to attract new customers can inadvertently sour your company’s devoted patrons.
Take a strategic approach and choose your influencers carefully to help generate interest without going overboard.
One way to avoid offending your clientele is to provide influencers only with those products, experiences and activities that other customers can also access.
Yes, you want to put your best foot forward with your social media influencers, but paying customers won’t appreciate social media posts about goods or services they can’t have.
It’s also important to remember the difficulty of qualifying relationships with influencers. You could net 100,000 “likes” from a social media influencer’s GoPro video of your zip-line tour, but that flood of social activity might not spur any revenue for your company.
There’s a difference between building awareness of your business and enticing prospects to become customers. There’s also no guarantee that any content created through these partnerships will meet your needs.
You probably wouldn’t want to hire an influencer who specializes in food to help promote your upcoming film. Unless food is a significant component to the film, it will fall flat with your target audience.
When you partner with an influencer, the resulting content affects your brand regardless of whether it matches your needs.
Though some marketers have moved away from working with influencers, such partnerships can be beneficial. By adhering to a few guidelines, they can generate plenty of interest in your company.
International pop star Justin Bieber has nearly 90 million Twitter followers, but partnering with him to discuss your new accounting software wouldn’t be a smart investment. His teen audience isn’t the core market for that product.
Don’t chase after a social media influencer based on fame alone. Find and work with influential personalities in your industry.
Let’s say you’ve asked an influencer to make a YouTube video about your sushi restaurant. Don’t limit his experience to the dishes you think might be best. Instead, give him a choice of various menu items.
Want someone to test drive your new SUV? Allow her to take it on a spin through the Sierra Nevada range and to shoot video as she goes.
Online clothing retailer ModCloth encourages customers to snap photos of themselves in hundreds of different looks using their vintage attire. That approach helps customers feel stylish and special while showcasing the company’s clothes to a broader audience.
The more an influencer knows about your brand, the better the resulting coverage will be. Engage with and educate these influencers about your products to help them find unique ways to cover your company that resonate with their audience.
Social media influencers can create a direct pipeline to massive audiences, but don’t get so caught up in the process that you undermine ROI.
Any social media influencer partnership should also remain true to your core brand message and values. Provide influencers with plenty of information and options to ensure they can create content that will educate potential customers without offending your loyal clientele.
Michael Innocentin is vice president of e-commerce and digital for AccorHotels . A version of this article originally appeared on