Influencer marketing sounds like a great idea on the surface. It can have a substantial effect on campaigns. 

However, there are advantages and disadvantages to any promotion. Before you jump into the realm of working with influencers, consider the pros and cons.

According to one survey, 19% of U.S. marketers plan to spend between $1,000 and $10,000 on influencer marketing. As social media continues to grow, it makes sense for businesses to include online personalities as part of their acquisition strategy. 

Knowing how much of your budget to spend on influencers, and which influencers are best suited for your message, are two of the biggest challenges in creating a successful influencer campaign.

If you’re trying to decide if you should spend money on influencer marketing or increase your budget, consider the pros and cons below. 

Pro #1: Reach Your Target Audience

One of the most significant advantages of influencer marketing is the chance to reach people who might like to buy your product or service. 

Most influencers develop a narrow niche of followers. If you sell golf clubs, and the influencer offers advice on how to improve their game, the audience will closely match your target. One of the best ways to find influencers in your niche is to get involved in social media and see who posts what. Study their posts, see how many followers they have and how engaged people are.

The brand Penny Fours teams up with Instagram influencers to get the word out about handcrafted pastries and sweets. Note the high quality of the photographs and the tongue-in-cheek sarcasm that speaks to the younger generation. You’ll find many types of posts by this influencer, from her favorite shoes to foods she eats. Penny Four’s goal in working with her is to ramp up their younger following. 

Pro #2: Boost Your Sales

Working with the right influencers helps boost your sales by increasing brand awareness and driving targeted users to your website. Studies show an average value of $5.20 for each $1 spent on influencer marketing. Look for influencers who endorse the products they stand behind. 

At the same time, you don’t want someone who promotes anything that comes along. The best influencers are selective about what they recommend. They understand their followers are the backbone of what they do. If they lose their trust, they’ve lost everything.

Pro #3: Work with Celebrities

Another advantage of working with influencers is you can bring in well-known celebrities to promote your product. Think about the person best suited to represent your brand. If you sell swimming pools, a makeup model might not be the best choice. A celebrity doesn’t have to be in the A-list Hollywood crowd. They only need to be familiar with the people you want to reach.

50 Floor uses Richard Karn Wilson, who played Al Borland on the TV sitcom Home Improvement. The show had a considerable following, and he is instantly recognizable. Because of the show’s home improvement theme, Wilson is the perfect influencer for their floors. Merely using his image with a thumbs up shows he endorses the flooring as a good option for homeowners 

Pro #4: Build Instant Credibility

New businesses might have a difficult time gaining the trust of the public. There is no history of whether you’ll follow through on your promises.

For some generations, social media is one way brands can build credibility as they are very active on social networks. For example, 86% of millennials use some type of social media. However, when a well-known influencer gets behind your brand, it shows you’re credible. If someone already believes in you, consumers might too. 

Pro # 5: Tell a Story

Influencers often share personal experiences with a brand and tell a story. This engages users, making them more likely to relate to your product. Think about the stories you want people to share about your products. Then, find influencers who share similar stories about other products. 

Look for accounts with lots of followers in your buyer persona type. Dig down into the details of why they like a product, rather than posting another link among the millions people see every day.

THXSilk works with influencers all over the Internet to get the word out about their bedding products. In the screenshot above, Krisztina Paskuly shares why she takes her pillowcase when she leaves home. She also includes what she likes about this particular brand. 

Pro #6: Expand Your Reach

Let’s face it, your marketing team’s time and resources are limited. You can only reach so many people before your strategies fall flat. However, using influencers opens you up to a new audience. 

Anyone who then shares the post further, whether to family, friends or followers, expands your reach. If shared enough times, you can potentially reach millions with a single post that goes viral. 

Even though there are lots of positives to influencer marketing, there are some pitfalls to watch out for as well.

Con # 1: Dishonest Influencers

Some people throw up a site and drive followers, mainly fake accounts, through robo methods. This tactic results in an audience that doesn’t match a specific demographic. Plus, most people won’t read the posts by that “influencer.” 

Be careful who you give your money to. Make sure they are well established, have a website and have had other successful campaigns. Don’t be afraid to ask for references.

Con # 2: High Costs 

Some of the most popular influencers charge a lot of money to talk up your product. You can easily invest thousands of dollars without seeing a return on your investment. 

Small businesses can’t work with the most famous personalities online. However, you can work with micro-influencers. These people tend to smaller, highly-targeted audiences. They also charge a lot less to mention your brand. For a small company, the risk associated with this type of branding is low.

Con # 3: Setup Time

It’s not easy to create a campaign that’s unique and speaks to the people you want to reach. You’ll spend a lot of time finding the right influencers to work with. Then, you’ll need to brainstorm back and forth to develop a strategy. 

It’s challenging to track how such a campaign translates to return on investment (ROI). You may spend countless hours trying to track conversions and wind up uncertain how well the campaign performed. 

Is Influencer Marketing Worth It?

More and more marketers use influencers as part of their strategy. For many, it works. However, it’s crucial to be aware of the pros and cons. 

Take your time to develop influencer campaigns. Determine a budget and seek out worthwhile micro-influencers. If you mess up a campaign, don’t worry. Social media continually changes — you can easily optimize your strategy for the next round. 

Lexie Lu is a freelance designer and writer. She enjoys researching the latest design trends and always has a cup of coffee nearby. She manages Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.