With the rise of social media and consumer desire for trusted recommendations, influencer marketing is proving to be a useful tool for small businesses. It spreads the word about your product or service to an established audience by a trusted source, which is fantastic when it works.

Unfortunately, there are also quite a few mistakes made when it comes to influencer marketing that it can backfire big time and waste your marketing dollars. Here are five of the biggest mistakes, and what you can do instead.

You Don’t Set Goals

Do you want more followers? Are you trying to establish yourself as a leader in the industry? Or do you just want to drive sales? Defining what you want out of an influencer marketing campaign is key to measuring its success.

You Don’t Know the Law

Ignorance of the law is a mistake that can seriously get you in trouble. The Federal Trade Commission's guidelines require any paid social endorsement to be identified as such. Research shows that 48 percent of businesses “sometimes” or “never” require influencers to do so. To avoid penalties, make sure you know and follow the law.

You Go Too Big

Choosing an influencer based on the number of followers he or she has, or picking the biggest names in the industry, is not always the way to go. Often smaller influencers have more loyal, engaged audiences that can be a target match for your message.

You Don’t Do Your Homework

Make sure you understand the influencers you choose. How do they communicate with their followers? Is their voice one you respect, and is it consistent with your brand? Remember, they’re representing you, so you want to make sure you know as much about them and their followers as possible.

You’re Too Controlling

Once you carefully choose your influencers and come up with a plan, try to give them as much creative freedom as possible. Trying to feed them lingo you want them to use or attempting to overly edit every bit of text can result in a disingenuous representation. They built their audience because of their voice; let them use it. 

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