4 Lessons You Can Learn from these Influencer Marketing Fails

Influencer marketing is a powerful marketing tool… when done right. When running your own campaign you want to make sure you’re doing everything you can so that things go smoothly. However, despite your best efforts - from time to time, it doesn’t quite go as planned. It’s not just the little guys making mistakes either, sometimes it’s big companies or big influencers. If you ever made a mistake with your influencer marketing we wanted to let you know that you’re not alone.

But an important thing about mistakes is we need to learn from them. So what we decided to do was take four famous influencer fails and show you what you can learn from them so you don’t have to make those mistakes yourself!

#1 - Give influencers creative freedom with the content and copy

Yep, you’re reading that right. When Scott Disick partnered with BooTea to promote their protein shake he didn’t pay too much attention to the caption. He just copied and pasted it without a second glance leading to one of the most well known influencer marketing fails ever.

Not only is this a botched copy and paste job we don’t even think there should have been anything to copy and paste in the first place! When partnering with influencers we highly recommend you give them as much creative freedom as possible to post in an authentic way to their followers. Telling them what to post comes across as inauthentic - even more so if they forget to remove your instructions from the caption.

We understand that you want to make sure your brand is represented in the best way possible but nobody knows how to speak better to their audience than the creators themselves. You can provide some talking points or things they could mention but don’t tell them exactly what post.

One thing to consider - while most of us consider this an influencer marketing fail - maybe we’ve all been played by BooTea and Scott Disick. What if they did this on purpose because they knew people would jump all over it and talk about this influencer post gone wrong? The saying is there’s no such thing as bad publicity and I had never heard of BooTea before this and I even went to their account because of it. It was posted over four years ago and still getting impressions - you never know, this might actually be the opposite of a fail and a smashing success. But I digress, on to the next fail!

#2 - Partner with creators who have a genuine relationship with their followers

While this doesn’t involve a company sponsoring a creator - we couldn’t make this list and not include this.

Instagram influencer @Arii announced to her 2.6 million followers that she was launching her own clothing brand. Shortly after the announcement, Arii made a second announcement saying her clothing line would be discontinued because she hadn’t hit the minimum threshold for sales for her production company to create the product. The minimum sales quantity was 36 shirts. That’s not a typo. Not 36,000. Not 3,600. Not 360. 36. Thirty-Six.

Despite having 2,600,000 million followers this did not translate into sales.

This is an important lesson for brands. Just because someone has a large following does not mean that they have a large influence over their audience. Be sure to partner with creators who have a genuine connection with their fans and followers.

#3 - Partner with creators who have aligned values to you and your brand

Tech giant Huawei partnered with famous actress Gal Gadot to promote the Huawei 10 Pro. Nothing seems wrong with that? Everyone uses a phone, and Gadot posted a picture of her with the Huawei device.

It wasn’t until MKBHD (one of the world’s most popular tech YouTubers) pointed out a minor issue did this campaign go awry.

While Gadot was tweeting about the amazing new Huawei 10 Pro, she made the tweet from an iPhone as we can see in the screenshot below posted by MKBHD.


Shortly after Marques (MKBHD) made his tweet, Gadot deleted her tweet and it was reposted from an Android device.

The lesson for marketers here is to make sure you’re partnering with creators that are aligned with your brand.

Promotions coming from a creator who actually uses and loves your product are going to come across far more authentic than coming from someone who has never heard of your product or used it in the past.

#4 - Make Sure You Have the Proper Disclosures

Ahead of the release of the Xbox One in 2015, Microsoft’s advertising agency worked with the multi-channel network (MCN) Machinima to promote the product through its network of creators.

Machinima paid influencers up to $30,000 dollars to promote the new console. According to MediaKix the MCN carried out a two-phase campaign with the first seeing creators receive early access to the Xbox One and games to create endorsement videos. In the second phase Machinima paid creators $1 for every 1,000 views they got on videos promoting the console.

While the campaign was successful and garnered over 1,000,000 views - Machinima missed a crucial step and did not ask any of the creators to disclose that these were paid advertisements and sponsored content.

As a result, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) came knocking as this is a clear violation of its guidelines. According the the FTC “Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $16,000.”

Machinima ultimately settled with the FTC in September of 2015.

If you’re thinking you wouldn’t want to pay a $16,000 penalty - you aren’t alone. If you want to make sure you’re being compliant with the FTC’s guidelines, they released a “Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers” document that you can read here to make sure you remain compliant.

Learn from Their Mistakes

You and your brand do not want to end up on a list of influencer marketing fails! Learn from others' mistakes so you don’t have to make them yourselves.

P.S. A great way to find aligned creators, with genuine engagement from their audience is through our platform Surf for Brands. You can vet a creator's followers, how many of them are fake, where they are located, the crossover between your audience and an influencer’s and so much more.