For any organization looking to connect with a wider audience, influencer marketing has evolved into an incredibly popular tactic. One sponsored social media post can do wonders for brand reputation and reach – for most organizations, it’s a price worth paying.
However, there are risks involved, for both the influencers and the brand. Trust, respect and a shared vision are crucial in order for these partnerships to work out – because if they fail, they usually fail in spectacular fashion.
As more and more brands outside of the retail sector start to explore influencer marketing, we’re breaking down some of their cautionary tales so you don’t make the same mistakes.
3 unforgettable influencer marketing fails:
In late 2017, Logan Paul was beloved by Gen Zers for his irreverent YouTube videos and bizarre sense of humour. Thanks to his highly successful YouTube channel (which boasted over 15 million subscribers at the time), brands were eager to partner with him in order to gain exposure to his massive audience. To put it lightly, this was a mistake.
Paul quickly became the subject of public outrage after posting an appalling video of his disrespectful, flippant and exploitative encounter with a suicide victim in Japan. Needless to say, Paul’s loss of credibility as a brand representative and his temporary ad revenue suspension serve only as the tip of this horrific iceberg. The emotional damage caused by his actions is immeasurable.
When partnering with influencers, brand safety should always be top-of-mind. Make sure you can stand behind every influencer your organization works with – any bad decision they make will reflect poorly on your brand.
The Fyre Festival was billed as an exclusive, luxurious music festival for those who wished to drop $1,200+ in order to eat the best food, sleep in stunning villas and enjoy performances by top artists on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma. Promoted by everyone from Kendall Jenner to Ja Rule, Fyre Festival appeared to be one of the greatest influencer marketing campaigns of all time.
What the festival devolved into, however, was total chaos. There were disaster relief tents. There were stranded festival attendees. There was cheese on bread.
— Trevor DeHaas (@trev4president) April 28, 2017
In the aftermath, the promoter pleaded guilty to fraud and the celebrity influencers who touted the disastrous event on social media were left with bruised reputations and derision from fans. While the Fyre Festival was inarguably one of the most unintentionally hilarious and fascinating events of 2017, there are still lessons to be learned. If you’re going to use influencers to promote anything to do with your organization, make sure to hold up your end of the bargain by delivering on your campaign’s promises.
Scott Disick and BooTea Shake
In a less drastic – but nonetheless entertaining – fail, Scott Disick of Keeping Up with the Kardashians fame gifted the world with the sloppiest attempt at influencer marketing back in the spring of 2016. While partnering with Bootea Shake, a weight-loss supplement, Scott made a major faux pas when he included instructions sent to him by the brand in his sponsored post’s caption.
Check out this cringe-worthy fail for yourself below – the now-infamous Instagram post has long since been deleted, but it lives on via screenshot.
— K A T I E (@ktpxox) May 20, 2017
It appears that you simply cannot be too clear when arranging posts with influencers – influencer marketing fails lurk around every corner. While this was obviously a mindless mistake, the post ultimately did more damage than good to both Bootea Shake and Disick’s brands.
Maybe this means including proofreading clauses in your influencer contracts; maybe this means only selecting influencers who put a lot of effort into making all of their posts look immaculate. Either way, good judgement goes a long way in influencer marketing – you can’t trust just anyone with your brand.