One of the best things in life is that you can learn from mistakes you didn’t make. That’s why I love people who open up about their failures and mistakes – it gives us a shot at learning without taking a hit.

Today, in the final article of our series about using influencers to promote your dropshipping business, we’ll talk about the mistakes people make when starting influencer marketing.

Mistake no. 1: Jumping head first because of the hype

I know what leads to this mistake. Gary Vee won’t shut up about influencers, people spend more and more time scrolling through Instagram, some people are incredibly talented at building communities around their content, and big brands forgot all about ‘traditional’ celebrities and started throwing money at Instagram models and YouTubers. In this environment, it’s easy to think that all you have to do to become a dropshipping rockstar is to gather some cash, find one of those influencers with 1 million followers, pay them a truckload of money and wait for their posts about your store and products to know when to call your mates and tell them that you’re rich. Well, tough luck. It’s not that simple and thinking that followers = money can really damage your business.

Luckily, things are more… normal than that. First of all, just because someone has 1 million followers, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re an influencer. Remember how we defined influencers at the beginning of our series? They need to actually be able to make their followers do things – from linking and commenting on their posts to buying the products they recommend.

You don’t have to spend $50,000 on a post on an influencer’s account just because they have 50,000 followers. You need to do your research and ask for rates from many influencers and compare their prices and their engagement rates. You’ll soon figure out that you can get that post on two accounts with 50,000 followers for less than $100.

Mistake no. 2: Not realising that you can make poor placements

What targeting is to Facebook ads, that’s what placements are to influencer marketing. Let me explain. If you want to get people to buy tickets to the Maroon 5 concert in Paris, you’re not setting your ads to run in Rome, right? You need to reach the people living in Paris where the actual concert will take place. You can’t complain that Facebook Ads don’t work. It’s just bad targeting.

The same goes for influencer marketing. The number of followers someone has can’t be the only thing to take into consideration. You need to figure out if it will be a good placement for your ad. You need congruence. The ad needs to fit perfectly into the content the influencer is usually sharing. These ads work BECAUSE they don’t look like ads.

If you use ads that have nothing to do with the style and the quality of the posts the influencers are usually sharing, people won’t engage with them.

You need to do your homework and you can start by doing a search in Instagram for the #ad hashtag. You’ll get to see many ads and some of them will be bad while others will be great. Notice how they differ from a general account to a personal account, what content formats they use, how many hashtags, how long their captions are, etc.

Influencers usually complain that big brand make them say things that they don’t normally say. Be smarter than those brands – ask your influencers what they think would make sense, how would they create the ad, what would they say. It’s true that you’re paying for the ad, but it’s their audience and they know it better that you’ll ever do.

Also, you might be interested to note the girl they’ve chosen in the photo and the direction she is looking, it ties in super strongly with Roger Dooley’s Brainfluence teachings if you’re interested in a bit or marketing psychology.

Mistake no. 3: Paying more than you should for ads

Some people keep thinking that influencer marketing is very expensive. In reality you can excel at this even with 0$ spent, by using ‘shout-out for a shout-out’. You start following and engaging with micro-influencers and you mention each other in order to help one another grow your accounts. It takes time, of course, but it’s free.

General influencers are more affordable than the personal accounts, the micro-influencers offer probably the best value for money in any case. You need to start small, with general pages that are super cheap. Then you work your way up to the personal accounts and big influencers.

I can’t stress this enough; the magical words are ‘thanks for letting me know, but this over my budget’. From there you can either propose a shorter time test post (4-6 hours for 17.5%-25% of the amount for 24 hours) or wait for them to open a negotiation.

When dealing with micro-influencers, you can even get away with paying no money, even if you don’t have a reciprocation relationship. Maybe you own a super cool brand and you’re willing to regularly send them merch or products to test out. You can get featured on their account for free because they also want to grow their account and they need cool content. 

Mistake no. 4: Using the same influencers everyone is using

There are only so many paid-for posts those influencers can publish, so their rate will go up. It’s economy 101. They’re not bad people, they just know their product (influence over consumers) is in high demand.

You can get the same or better result by working with influencers who aren’t as popular amongst the PR and advertising agencies, which are getting proposals less often, and who will be less expensive.

Besides, do you really want to promote a product on the Instagram account who just promoted your competitor’s product two days ago?

Mistake no. 5: Not putting the products into the influencers’ hands

This is a big mistake, but few people realise this. Just think of how unnatural it is to recommend a product you don’t have. If you had the product you would have shown it in the post where you’re recommending it, right? That’s what people following influencers also think. For something to seamlessly integrate into an influencer’s account, you need the product to actually be a part of their lifestyle.

Mistake no. 6: Thinking that influencer marketing isn’t scalable

Influencer marketing is scalable, you just need to know how to prepare your campaigns to make it so. The best way is to start with a small budget and general pages, once those start generating traffic and sales for you and your marketing budget increases, you can move to personal accounts, influencers with bigger audiences. By the time to reach Kendall Jenner you’ll have built for yourself a crazy successful Shopify store, making you millions every month.

Now that you know about these common mistakes, I’m confident that you’ll avoid them and that your influencer marketing campaigns will help you grow your dropshipping business.

If you have any questions, please add them below, in the comments, and I’ll make sure you get the answers you need.

This is it for this series. I hope you’re feeling better equipped to deal with influencer marketing and that all your campaigns will be successful!