Sheryl Crowe once lamented about her favorite mistake, a man who had seemingly misled her, but content marketing writer Dennis Shiao is “no fool to this game” as he shares his top 5 favorite influencer mistakes.


During my formative years, I was influenced by a number of people: my parents, teachers and coaches. Also, my Chinese school teacher, SAT tutor and private piano instructor. Some of the best advice I got? It wasn’t the prescriptive advice (“Go West, young man”). Instead, it was advice on what NOT to do. Things and mistakes to avoid.

Along those lines, this post focuses on five B2B influencer marketing mistakes to avoid.

1 Focus on follower counts

Follower counts on social media are like a shiny red sports car: impressive, beautiful and powerful. We’re jealous and wish we had it for ourselves. If only we could take it out for a quick ride?

Don’t be fooled.

On Twitter, there are users with 100,000 followers with an engagement rate of below 0.1%. Followers can be purchased. Of the 100,000 followers, it’s likely that 10% (or more) are bots. You want to align with people who can influence human beings, not bots.

According to Carter Hostelley, CEO of B2B social media marketing agency Leadtail, “B2B marketers need to invest the time to identify those influencers who are truly relevant to their audience. It’s not about who has the most followers, it’s about who influences your buyers in particular.”

2 Connect with influencers without understanding them first

You have an on-site job interview and sit down with the hiring manager. The first question is, “So tell me what you know about our company?”

Your answer, “Actually, I don’t know anything about your company. Perhaps you can fill me in?” Don’t expect to advance to the next round.

That hiring manager is precisely how some B2B influencers feel when brands reach out to them. According to Ted Rubin, speaker, author and CMO at Photofy, “The biggest mistake brands make is not trying to understand who I am and what my brand is about. They think it is all about the money, the numbers and the reach. Relationships are like muscle tissue, the more you engage them, the stronger and more valuable they become.”

If a brand did homework on Ted, they’d know that he writes and speaks a lot about “looking people in the eye digitally.” They’d also know that he’s a believer in #RonR, or “return on relationship.” So the worst thing a brand could do is approach Ted with a generic, impersonal outreach message.

Do your homework, folks.

3 Expect immediate ROI

Influencer marketing, like content marketing, pays off over the long term. A B2B brand might go 18+ months before they see a tangible return on their content marketing. The same timeframe might apply with their influencer marketing efforts.

If you’re one month in to an influencer marketing program and your boss asks you to report on its ROI, it’s time to have a sit-down and explain the bigger picture. More timely results may occur in B2C influencer marketing, but it’s a longer time horizon in B2B.

In fact, an influencer marketing expert panel at MarketingProfs B2B Forum reported that, “it may take 6-9 months just to identify influencers and establish relationships with them.”

4 Take a “one and done” approach

During his keynote at Content Marketing World 2019, Joe Pulizzi urged the audience to avoid the “content marketing one night stand.” Pulizzi wants us to think about long term relationships with our audience. It’s less about dating and more about marriage.

The same holds true with influencer marketing.

It’s a mistake to take a “one and done” approach with B2B influencers. Instead, forge long-term relationships that are mutually beneficial.

According to Andrew Davis, keynote speaker and best-selling author, “The best influencer marketing partnerships are designed to be long-term. Instead of a one-off campaign or just one video, it’s about a deeply ingrained relationship designed to be part of the influencer’s brand, instead of just a one-off. Think long-term.”

5 Forgetting about the emotional aspect

It’s easy to think of B2C purchases as involving emotion: buying your first car or your first home is full of excitement, joy and happiness. But guess what? B2B purchases involve a lot of emotions too, just different ones.

In an article at CMSWire, Ian Truscott writes, “It’s slightly different in B2B, especially with big ticket purchases where the relationship between the buyers and those that influence them is more intimate. The transaction, with all the career risk, is more fraught with emotion than when a buyer would buy something for themselves.”

B2B involves the purchase of complex products that require weeks, months or years to deploy. What if the product doesn’t meet the needs of the organization? Your job might be in jeopardy. As a result, B2B purchases are often associated with the emotions of angst, fear and uncertainty.

For influencer marketing campaigns, think how influencers can help prospective customers feel more comfortable about selecting your brand’s products.

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