This question comes up all the time: How do you handle a negative experience with an influencer? Warding off negative experiences starts way before the experience ever happens. It starts by building relationships with your influencers. Influencers are eager to work with brands but they don’t want you to just hand them the assignment without interaction. These interactions build trust, which will come back tenfold especially if the influencer has a negative experience with your brand.
If you’ve built a relationship, most influencers who have a negative experience with your product will reach out to you before making any type of public statement. As a blogger myself, I am occasionally asked to review a product for my site. If I have found the product’s claims have little credibility/effect I will write the company back giving them my feedback through email, not through a negative sponsored post. Our experience at Collective Bias has been similar. Influencers want to build relationships, not burn bridges. That said, they will be honest to protect their personal brand and reputation.
Remember this old advertising phrase? Well it still holds true, especially with influencers. Influencers create amazing content, but only in support of brands they love, feel provide value and think are relevant for their audience. They cannot turn a lemon into lemonade when it comes to a less-than-great product. You can avoid negativity by ensuring you’re asking them to support a great product and by making sure the influencer you’ve selected is passionate for your brand.
Because of our thorough selection process, negative experiences have been extremely rare. Don’t be so naive to think they will never happen. You’re working with human beings, not automatons. Therefore, the selection process is critical and requires a high level of due diligence. If you take an influencer at face value—meaning just by their numbers alone or a cursory look at their content—you might find yourself in a bind later on. You need to check if they’ve worked for competitive brands, if your brand fits with their writing style and so forth. And you’ll need to ensure they are capable and comfortable with meeting the needs of your campaign.
Nothing will kill a relationship with an influencer quicker than asking them for revisions. Think about the exaggerated, spoof TV spot T-Mobile did recently with Drake where they go over the top with revisions. However, if the influencer creates messaging that’s inaccurate about the brand or outside of the guidelines of the campaign, you have every right to ask for a redo. But never mess with their creativity or you will take a serious blow to the relationship. Influencers communicate with each other so beware of getting a reputation for being difficult to work with—particularly as influencer marketing gains popularity and influencers can be more selective in choosing partnership opportunities.
Any items that need to be emphasized or avoided should be clearly articulated in your instructions. If a blogger violates these guidelines or makes factually inaccurate claims about the product, you can ask them to correct those parts of the post and they should do so gladly. Create a checklist for the influencer as part of your instructions so they can ensure they’ve met all of your criteria.
We still compensate influencers who provide feedback about their negative experience. They did the initial work so they should be paid. You may want to work them again in the future when you have a different product/campaign. They will welcome a new opportunity even if their first experience was less than ideal.
Last but not least, remember you will have to relinquish some control.
If you have a great product, take the time to build relationships with your influencers, write concise contracts and give clear direction from the start—and you should be able to relax and not worry about negative experiences with influencers. Just remember you will need to relinquish some control and let your influencers do what they do best: create inspiring content that audiences love to engage with.