Influencer Marketing: What You Shouldn't Do

Influencer Marketing can do wonders to your brand but for that, you need to have the right strategy. These brands learned it the hard way. But thanks to their mistakes, you now know what you shouldn't do!

April 19, 2022
Camille Valentin

There is no doubt that Influencer Marketing can have a huge impact on your business and positively affect your number of sales. With the right choice of influencers and impactful content, influencer collabs can do wonders for your brand: boost your sales, give a positive image, increase your visibility… But sometimes because of a() strategy or an influencer who doesn’t quite fit the brand image…

It sometimes happens that brands aren’t satisfied with their influencer collabs because they feel that it wasn’t profitable enough. They were expecting better results from it and feel like they wasted money.

Marketing errors that led to influencer collabs gone wrong

Influencer Marketing shouldn’t be your only strategy

Bad Mood Paris

This was the case for the French clothing brand “Bad Mood”. A few months ago, they shared their disappointment after working with many influencers and spending a huge amount of money. Their sales didn’t increase as much as they expected and only after a few months of existence, they were forced to close their online store. As a result, they did crazy discounts to get rid of their stocks.

On social media, they shared their experience with influencers and explained how influencer collabs weren’t effective anymore.


Si vous voulez soutenir on a tout mis à prix ridicule lol.

♬ son original - haik.13

So how can we explain this failure?

First of all, their major mistake was to believe that influencer collabs would be the main way to create sales. Influencer Marketing can greatly boost your sales but it cannot replace a whole marketing and communication strategy. Judging by the list of influencers that they shared on social media, they didn’t seem to have a precise target audience. Therefore they did collaborations with YouTubers like Michou, who has quite a young audience, but also with reality TV contestants who don’t always have a great image when it comes to product placements. Since they didn’t have a precise target audience, they chose to work with big influencers hoping they would get a lot of sales. However, working with mega influencers isn’t always the right choice for your brand. Mega influencers do have a huge audience so it will definitely boost your visibility. However, their community is often heterogeneous meaning that not everyone will be interested in your products. Finally, their audience tends to be less engaged than smaller influencers thus their collaborations tend to have an effect mostly on the visibility of the brand.

When brands use woke washing

Kendall Jenner x Pepsi

Sometimes you manage to get that one IT girl to work for your brand, you think of an impactful ad that will tackle social issues and yet your campaign ends up creating a huge bad buzz. This is what Pepsi had to deal with in 2017 after releasing an ad with Kendall Jenner. In this ad, the famous model can be seen at a protest handing out a can of Pepsi to a police officer. What might look like an engaged campaign didn’t sit right for many people.

Many people quickly criticized the brand and Kendall Jenner for this ad. Many found it absurd but also pointed out that Pepsi was using the Black Lives Matter movement to make themselves look great. Knowing how touchy the issue is, implying that a can of Pepsi would end the violence against black people was definitely not the right thing to do. Rightly, the brand was accused of woke washing (using a social movement for marketing purposes). Even Martin Luther King’s daughter, Bernice King tweeted about the ad.

Does it mean you can’t talk about social issues as a brand? Not at all! However, Pepsi's ad could have been better if they have worked with a black influencer, for instance, someone who is really affected by racism. Moreover, if your only goal is to give a good image to your brand then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Only talk about social issues that are aligned with your brand’s values, make sure that it’s not a one-time thing and get involved in the movement, take real actions (support a charity, work with people who are directly affected by this issue, etc.)

Influencer Marketing gone wrong: when bad buzz affects your campaign

When influencers and brands fail to meet their agreements

Luka Sabbat x Snap

Luka Sabbat is a mega influencer, model, and actor. He quickly gained popularity in 2015 thanks to his participation in multiple fashion shows and his incredible sense of fashion. From New York to Paris, Luka was invited to every fashion show and started hanging out with some of the biggest celebrities such as Rihanna, and Kendall Jenner. Some even described him as “the Internet’s coolest teen”. So it wasn’t long before brands started taking interest in him.

In 2018, Snapchat decided to collaborate with him to promote their new Snap glasses. This partnership was quite a big deal as the company allegedly offered $60 000 to Luka in exchange for 3 Instagram stories, 1 post, and to accept to be photographed with the sunglasses during the Fashion week. The company gave $45 000 as an advance payment to the influencer.

However, things didn’t happen how they expected them to. Luka Sabbat only posted a carousel of him wearing the glasses, which clearly wasn’t what Snapchat had agreed with him. Therefore the company decided to sue the influencer.

How can you avoid this type of situation?

First of all, writing down a contract when doing a partnership with an influencer is really important, especially if you are paying them a lot of money. Secondly, try to get feedback from people who have already worked with this influencer.

The Fyre Festival

Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Bieber… All the biggest top models promoted what was supposed to be the most memorable festival. The organizers promised guests they would live a real luxury experience: a private jet to go to a private island in the Exumas, delicious gourmet food…

But the reality was very different. Guests who had spent hundreds of dollars for this festival were given cheese sandwiches and tents as their accommodations. Many people shared their disappointment and discontentment on social media. So it didn’t take long before the whole internet started talking about it. Of course, many pointed out the influencers who had talked about it.

The Fyre Festival wasn’t such a big Influencer Marketing failure because the real problem lied in the organization of the festival itself. As a matter of fact, their communication was quite good (if it wasn’t full of lies). It actually showed how influencer partnerships can help your brand gain visibility. However, among the models who promoted the festival on their social media only Emily Ratajkowski disclosed it was an ad by adding a hashtag to her post. Many of the influencers quickly deleted their post after the controversy. In many countries, the law states that influencers must disclose when they are being paid to talk about a product or a service. Social media users must be able to tell when content is an ad or not.

Your influencers’ image affects your brand

The beauty community and old racist tweets

When you are looking for influencers to work with, it is important to check multiple factors. First of all, you need to check their social media stats like their engagement rate, their saturation rate, etc. You also need to check their content. Does their image match yours? Do they share the same values as your brand? Can they adapt their type of format to a partnership?

Influencers aren’t a billboard. When you work with an influencer, you associate your image with theirs. So as much as possible, try to get information about the influencer’s reputation. Are they known to be involved in a lot of drama? Do they post about controversial topics?

This might take a lot of time but it will prevent you from being in a bad buzz.

In 2018, the beauty community faced a lot of drama. Many beauty gurus were called out for their old racist tweets. Laura Lee, a YouTuber, who currently has 4.5M subscribers, was accused of being racist after her old tweets reemerged. Twitter went crazy, and Laura Lee lost thousands of subscribers. It wasn’t long before brands reacted to the situation. Many beauty brands decided to stop their collaboration with the YouTuber. Laura Lee also created a line of beauty products “Laura Lee Los Angeles”, which were sold on many websites such as Ulta Beauty.

As a brand, you don’t want to be associated with these kinds of scandals which can have an effect on your brand image. People will hold you accountable if you decide to work with people who are caught in a lot of drama, even if you have nothing to do with them. This is why you should choose who you work with carefully.

Hopefully, these examples of influencer marketing gone wrong will help you plan your next collaborations.

About the author

Camille Valentin

Painting and make-up are her favourite hobbies... she is indeed a true artist! 👩‍🎨 She also has a degree in Dutch and English! Did we mention she is an influencer ? Camille has a food Instagram account (We have a foodie!) and works on her TikToks too! 🤩 She definitely has more than one string to her bow 🔥