What NOT to do to gain the right influencers

Most would agree that trial and error is one of the most effective ways a human being has to learn or achieve mastery. But if we could have a heads up, by knowing exactly what not to do, we could actually manage to deflect failure by learning from other’s mistakes.

When it comes to influencer marketing, tons of articles found in the world wide web concentrate on teaching or advising us on what to do to get the right influencers to market our content or brand, and those who focus on what we are doing wrong are either too short and leave your vulnerable for their lack of depth, or too long and uncategorized.

Having that said, we shall expose what not to do when it comes to gaining the right influencers, in an organized, straightforward and user friendly manner, by describing a list of mistakes people often make while putting it in practice. But before we get there, let’s answer some basic questions.

What is influencer marketing?

According to Ayelet Golz, blog contributor for genuinely.co, “Influencer marketing is the practice of building relationships and collaborating with influencers of your target market. These collaborations will spread the word about your brand to your target audience through a voice they know and trust, and thus increase brand awareness.”

What are influencers?

In simple terms, “they are people (or brands) who have built expertise and trust with an audience.” says Zak Mustapha, author of Undefeated Marketing and founder of Foolishness File. That bond between influencer and his (it’s) audience, is what you gain from the him (it), it’s the key to influencing consumers to buying into what you’re offering.  

Now that the basics are clear, let’s get started with the real thing: What NOT to do to gain the right influencers. To do this, let’s extract and describe the most common and important mistakes made while identifying influencers, building trust and outreaching, from Mustapha’s interviews to more than 200 experts and influencers, compiled in his guide titled: Influencer Marketing Mistakes: The Full Step by Step Guide With Proofs From The Influencers Themselves”, accompanied by sound advise, meant to steer you clear from ever being a victim of them.

Mistakes while identifying influencers

The first step to gaining the right influencers is actually identifying them. If you’re not  able to separate the good apples from those apples that simply are not good for you and you’ll fail at getting the deserved exposure. So, here are some common mistakes people make while trying to identify the proper influencer:

# 1. Not collecting the right data


Influencer marketing is like any other type of marketing, data is essential. Never work based on blind assumptions and find the time to do the proper study that lets you know if your campaign is likely to succeed or not.  


# 2. Not having a list and writing things down


Planning and organizing is always a key factor in management, scattered efforts mostly result in wasted energy. That is why it is imperative to create a list of influencers (name, link to their blog or website, email, twitter and facebook) that you would like to outreach, making the campaign more efficient and measurable.


# 3. Not knowing your target market


Make knowing your target market the Genesis of your hunt for the right influencers. Not knowing who your customers are can get you the wrong influencers and you’ll most likely end up with lost time and effort you can’t afford. So, in the direct but eloquent words of Laurie Hurley, from TheSocialNetworkingNavigator.com, “Define your demographic and target market – aim for the bullseye. Not “everyone and anyone”. Be meticulous about exactly who your consumers are. Then, do a thorough job of reaching out to the movers and shakers.”

Try applying the PRRR formula to match influencers with your target market.


  • Personality: Understanding your brand’s personality helps you match and select the most appropriate influencer.
  • Relevance: Make sure what you promote is relevant to the influencer and their audience.
  • Reaction: Be vigilant that both the influencer and the audience are active and engaged.


  • Resonance: Pick the influencers you believe will resonate the most with what you have to offer. Many of them might fit your campaign, so filter the good from the great to maximize results.

# 4. Not knowing your influencer’s audience

It’s important you take the time to do the proper screening to make sure the influencer’s demographic matches yours. Knowing your influencer’s audience includes judging the relevance and affinity of both the influencer and its audience, with those of your content or brand. Failing to understand this will most likely get you ignored or give you a bad reputation from most influencers, since they care about their reputation and audience.

# 5. Picking influencers for followers

It’s all about engagement and real influence, not reach. A common mistake when practicing influencer marketing, is thinking that popularity equals to influence. Some so called influencers may have huge followings but hardly any feedback from their audience. Look for those influencers that have a real connection.

# 6. Acceleration or top speed? (The risers)

Don’t prey solely on top tier influencers, it may take years to establish the trust and relationship necessary for them to promote your brand or content. Target mid and low tier influencers that have the potential of reaching the top, those who are more in touch with their audience and are most likely to give an honest opinion about your work.

Besides, nowadays the personal approach of these influencers seems to be more trustworthy to the masses, that’s because it’s well known high profile influencers can be biased when it comes to promoting brands, due to the fact that they receive huge amounts of money for it. So focus on these low and mid tier influencers, you never know if one could be a real rising star and become the next guru.

# 7. Those who talk

“Don’t go to those who talk about a certain topic. Go to those who are referenced when a certain topic is talked about. Because the latter is the true influencer.” Mustapha says. Aim for the experts, look for recurring names mentioned on blogs and forums for the topic and see how many replies their mention generates.

# 8. Going for broadcasters

As Ted Rubin, from TedRubin.com and ReturnOnRelationship.com says, “Old marketing was dictation… new marketing is communication”. Don’t conform with someone who transmits a message, look for feedback. The audience always appreciates feedback and become more loyal to the influencer, therefore increasing engagement.

# 9. Picking influencers your target market hates

Just because he is relevant and resonates doesn’t mean he’s the right one to promote your brand or content. The influencer and his audience might not like or identify with what you offer, his personality might not match with your target market, or he might be just a fraud rather than an expert. So make sure to do your research and match factors like identity, personality, affinity and experience when ultimately choosing influencers.

# 10. Going after a group at a time

A reccurring mistake when applying influencer marketing, is going for too many influencers at once. By taking that approach,  you’re not actually getting to know who you are talking to, risking getting ignored by the most influential people or attracting the wrong influencers. It’s better to center your efforts on identifying the influencers who are most likely to make the biggest impact.

# 11. Looking for influencers in the wrong places

Where to look for influencers comes down to knowing your audience. Finding out where they spend their time, do research and who they trust for information about brands or content like yours. Once you have your demographic clear, you can engage certain strategies such as:

  • Attending to events and meetings within your niche, and seeing for yourself who is really moving the masses. You could even find possible influencers, like keynote speakers and other people who have wide networks offline, who could equally promote what you have to offer.
  • Using specialized tools and platforms.
  • Searching in expert roundup posts and top influencer lists.
  • Asking known contacts within your market, who can refer you to the right influencer.  

# 12. Not Using Tools and Technology

In the marketing business, like in any other businesses, you want to posses the best data available to make the best decisions. So a common mistake made when influencer hunting, is not using, or underusing, the available tools and resources technology has to give. For example, when searching for influencers tools like FollowerWonk are quite useful.

Mistakes while building the relationship and trust

After you identify your influencers, it’s important you take the time to build a relationship before asking them to promote your brand or content. Skipping this part, is the equivalent of asking a total stranger for a huge favor. This can be a fatal mistake, since as Mustapha underlines, influencers “get asked the same thing hundreds of times by a ton of other strangers and a tiny amount of friends. I’m sure you can guess who they’ll respond to… (Spoiler Alert: It’s their friends).”  So, here are some common mistakes people make while attempting to build the appropriate relationship.

# 1. Not understanding them

Really take the time to understand your influencer, dig deep to make sure there is true alignment between him and what you’re offering and you’re not choosing him because you are simply blinded with what you perceive of him, as this happens frequently. That is why Nate Shivar, from shivarweb.com, warns us “many influencers have a very specific point of view. If you don’t understand it, you could easily find your brand with very negative coverage”.

# 2. Failing to give

True influencers have tons of opportunities and like everyone, they are looking at what you can do for them. So, try offering something in return that works towards showing your worth, because you have to keep in mind you are not the first or only who wants his help.

# 3. Buying influencers

Don’t mistake remunerating with buying off. Plain and simple, as Mustapha states, “you can pay for a promotion if they like what you’re promoting. But, you can’t buy influencers with your bad products/content. Their audience means everything to them.” So don’t even bother wasting your time building a relationship if you know what you offer is not to their liking.

# 4. Forgetting they are humans

Sometimes we tend to forget that influencers are people and we only see the brand they’ve developed for themselves. That is why, SEO expert and consultant for Tennessee Contracting Services, Jeremy Rivera tells us that “developing relationships by sharing & engaging with their content is also building a relationship with a real person.” So, when interacting online with an influencer, try to imagine that person and don’t act differently than you would if he was infront of you.

# 5. Offering to help

Never offer help without being specific about what you’re putting on the table. Even though  influencers could most of the time use some help, these requests are usually ignored because unless he happens to know exactly how you can help him, you’re putting the burden on them to figure it out how. So take the time and figure out how to help, it doesn’t have to be  big, but find something useful and remember to suggest instead of asking.

# 6. Keeping it online only (Face to face is better)

If you get the chance to meet the influencer face-to-face don’t let it go to waste. People often remember visuals more than they would remember text written on an email. By letting him see your face it becomes more personal and helps building the necessary bond to later outreach.

# 7. Not knowing how to get influencer attention

It’s never easy to build a relationship with an influencer, sometimes it’s difficult enough to even get his or her attention. After all they are busy people. That’s why Donna Moritz, from sociallysorted.com.au, urges us to “share their content, engage, comment, reach out, buy their programs if you have to, in order to to get to know them. The more you help them the more you stand out and get their attention.”

# 8. Not becoming their valuable asset

Once you’ve managed to get the influencer’s attention and really bleep on his radar, don’t lose what most probably took you a long time and effort to achieve. Build the momentum and keep the interaction constant by helping out in things they truly care about. The influencer will now see you as an ally and sooner than latter, give back in gratitude.

Mistakes while outreaching

Outreaching is the final step in the path to gain the right influencers, it represents the actual pitch to the influencer of the brand or content you want him or her to promote. But after all that hard work identifying the right influencer to promote your work and taking the time to build a fruitful relationship, it could all end in disaster if you don’t take the necessary precautions. So, here are some common mistakes people make when they finally pop the question.

# 1. Outsourcing, automating and dehumanizing outreach

When outreaching, keeping it personal plays a huge factor in success. That is why you should always avoid outsourcing or delegating outreach. Do it yourself. By doing so, you show the influencer you’re really interested on what he has to offer. You should also keep away from automatizing outreach, using email templates or copy and pasting outreach emails. Influencers can easily spot these methods and delete the email instantly.  

# 2. Shooting in the dark

Stay focused on the target! Your goal is to build a relationship with your influencer that can help you promote your trade. That means avoiding at all cost reaching out with no purpose. Don’t waste your efforts on “hi” and “hello”, make every attempt to reach count.

Also, avoid asking vague questions or writing too much, try to keep it clear, specific, and to the point. Failing to understand that, can lead the influencer into ignoring your request or, in the latter, mislead him into thinking you’re asking for too much. Remember, a good influencer is busy most of the time.

# 3. Thinking the world revolves around you (What’s in it for them)

Even the biggest brands are victims of this mistake. It’s a common  sin in influencer outreach  for people to focus on their brand and what they are promoting instead of the influencer, who they are actually trying to convince. It’s absurd to think an influencer would like to promote your brand with nothing in return. So be sure to reach only when you have something to offer.

# 4 . Making it about the influencer only (Ignoring their audience)

A common mistake is trying to sales-pitch your brand or content to the influencers and failing to consider their audience. As Penny Zenker, from p10app.com says, “Influencers know they have the eye of the people and they are careful with their connections. They want to make sure you care and are going to add value to the community. The contact has to be focused on what you can do for them and the community (think about what they want and are trying to achieve) and what value you will provide to the overall community.”

# 5. Being dishonest

When outreaching, the last thing you want to do is be dishonest with a possible influencer. People often make the mistake of lying about their identity, undermining the influencer’s intelligence by sending false flattery or having a hidden agenda which only manages to shatter all trust on his behalf. Just be yourself, keep it real and don’t rush things, because getting personal too fast is another way to get banned from the circle of trust and get you considered a creep.

# 6.Typos and errors.  

Always remember proofreading your posts, emails, tweets or whatever platform you use that is out to the public, before outreaching! Even though it might seem obvious, lots of people tend fail to follow this advice. So take your time, proofread and avoid giving a bad impression, especially if content writing happens to be your trade.

# 7. Failing to establish credibility

Warm outreach is best, where you already have a relationship with the influencer. But if you don’t have that, then name-drop–mention other influencers you’ve worked with or acquaintances you have in common, or cite well-known brands you’ve worked with, or link to A-list blogs or journals where you’ve been published.”

# 8. Being their fan with no respect (for yourself)

As if it wasn’t difficult enough establishing credibility, some people make the big mistake of seeming needy or acting in any way like a fan while outreaching. When approaching influencers, specially high profiled ones, you must try in all manner to maintain certain balance in the relationship or else you won’t be taken seriously and the outreach will fail. You mustn’t forget to have some self respect if you expect the influencer to respect you.

# 9. Giving up too quickly

Patience always plays its part when it comes to influencer marketing, According to Marko Saric, from HowToMakeMyBlog.com, one of the biggest mistakes he has seen is giving up too early. People tend to “contact someone one time, never hear back and give up on it. Or they send spam messages which are not targeted and not relevant at all. You need to be in it for the long run. It takes time to build a name for yourself and establish relationships with influencers.”

# 10. Not following up

In influencer marketing, like in marketing itself, connections are vital. You never know  where life will take you and who in the future could represent a potential influencer or open doors to allow reaching that ideal influencer. So keep up with your connections to prevent them from going stale. Take the time to nurture those relationships and keep up the communication.

Finally, having pointed out the long, but easy to digest, list of frequent mistakes that have lead many others to failure when it comes to influencer marketing, make sure to use this information as a promptly vaccine and luckily avoid yourself some influencer influenza!

Meta description: Learn from tips derived from the most common mistakes made by leading marketers in the business and the opinions of top influencers, what you should avoid if you want to gain the right infuencers.

Sick and Tired of UNPRODUCTIVE employees? Sign up to our Newsletter and qualify for a free 3 month membership to our Software as soon as we release it
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply