Nearly six years ago, I met her during a conference panel where we co-presented on personal branding. Much has changed since then, but we’ve kept in contact, and I was thrilled to have her willingly accept my invitation to speak at the very first Influencer Marketing Days conference (which is coming to NYC in three short weeks). Barbara Rozgonyi, a renowned expert in PR, branding and social selling, will open up the second day of the conference with her speech on building brands with influence.

Leading up to the show, I got Barbara to answer a few of my questions on influencer marketing’s place in the overall digital marketing ecosystem, as well as on the opportunities for brands to explore through it.

Question: While the concept is centuries old, influencer marketing became the “buzz word” only a couple of years ago, and advertisers’ interest in it is only getting stronger. What do you think about influencer marketing?

Barbara RozgonyiBarbara: It’s getting tougher and tougher to break through with ads alone. People block them, ignore them or find them irrelevant. That’s why influencer marketing is becoming a more enticing strategy.

What brand wouldn’t want someone to share their story?

But, it’s complicated.

While influencer marketing sounds easy on the surface – find someone with lots of fans and have them share your product/services in a campaign – it goes way, way beyond sharing updates and blog posts.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, you risk PR disasters and missed opportunities. That’s why I’m excited to share insider info – and learn from influencer marketing experts – at Influencer Marketing Days. Thanks, Geno, for presenting a relevant and timely conference!!

Question: What’s the biggest misconception you’ve seen brands have about influencer marketing?

Barbara: The biggest misconception is that the campaign will go viral. While reach can spike, the effects may be very short-lived. Once the tweet goes out or the campaign is over, the influencer’s followers may disconnect from the brand. Was it worth it?

Question: What top 3 mistakes should advertisers be aware of as they look into getting their feet wet in/with influencer marketing?

Barbara: Can I give you 11?

Geno: Of course!

Barbara: I have seen all of these and more:

  1. Thinking you know how your audience will react, especially on networks where there’s a code of conduct only known to enthusiasts
  2. Failing to find your true influencers because you’re only going for numbers
  3. Letting your message be misinterpreted because influencers are misinformed
  4. Having unrealistic expectations about coverage, reach and results
  5. Isolating influencer marketing from brand management, PR, digital marketing, social media teams, and external agencies
  6. Overlooking simple PR strategies like being interviewed by an influencer
  7. Miscommunicating expectations to influencers and management
  8. Neglecting to have a contract and a disclosure policy in place
  9. Forgetting to capture photo and video opps at events
  10. Ignoring influencers before, during or after the campaign
  11. Thinking this will be a quick shot, short-term transaction, not a longer term mutually beneficial relationship.

Question: What is the biggest overlooked influencer marketing opportunity, in your opinion?

Barbara: The biggest opportunity is to go beyond one influencer and gather a group of influencers who reach diverse demographics. Think in terms of a collection of viewpoints that reach a variety of customer segments. For instance, when I was on Sears’ Blue Blogger Crew at CES, I represented the small business voice. Other bloggers represented tech, moms, and photo enthusiasts.

Question: With 2017 just around the corner, what would you recommend for advertisers to consider implementing as soon as Q4 is over (a New Year’s influencer marketing resolution of sorts)?

Barbara: I’d love to see an ongoing video series, preferably live, co-hosted with influencers to tell your story.

Question: What do you believe to be the biggest challenge that advertisers face in terms of influencer marketing, and what steps can they take to overcome it?

Barbara: The biggest challenge is matching candidates to a clear ideal influencer profile.

Influencer marketing is kind of like Tinder.

Keep swiping left until you find a true match. Think about who you’d like to date for the long haul. Some people meet once quickly and others go on to get married and spend a lifetime together.

To get a feel for the real deal, organize a live event, set up auditions, ask for contest entries to find influencers who can share your story.

Question: Give us 1 key reason why marketers should attend your Influencer Marketing Days session.

Barbara: It’s early in the morning and I will wake you up in time to greet and succeed in 2017. 🙂

Question: If you were to leave brands with one piece of influencer marketing advice, what would it be?

Barbara: Imagine the ideal outcome and work backwards from there. Think: who, what, when, where, why, how – and ROI. Start small and build up. Beginning an influencer marketing campaign could be as simple as inviting a group to a casual lunch or networking reception. Get to know who’s who and see who you click with before you take off and fly together.

Barbara Rozgonyi at IMD

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