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When Influencer Marketing Goes Wrong

Updated: Apr 27

Angry influencer screaming into podcast mic


Influencer marketing has become a cornerstone of modern digital strategy, offering brands an authentic way to connect with their audience through respected and admired figures. However, the inherently human aspect of this strategy means that sometimes, influencers may act in ways that surprise, shock, or even alienate their followers and partner brands. From controversial opinions to unexpected public behaviour, "influencers gone wild" can present a unique set of challenges for brands. This post explores how to navigate these waters with grace and strategic savvy.

The Wild Side of Influence

Influencers, like anyone else, are capable of making mistakes or taking actions that might not align with every brand's image or values. Whether it's a poorly thought-out tweet, an off-brand partnership, or behaviour that sparks public backlash, the ramifications can be immediate and widespread. Understanding how to respond to these situations is crucial for maintaining your brand's integrity and relationship with your audience.

Prevention and Preparation

1. Due Diligence: Before partnering with an influencer, conduct thorough research into their past behaviour, online and offline. Look for red flags or patterns that might indicate potential future issues.

2. Clear Agreements: Ensure that your partnership agreements include clear guidelines on expected behaviour and content, as well as clauses that address potential breaches of conduct.

3. Crisis Management Plan: Have a crisis management plan in place that includes steps for addressing negative influencer behaviour. Knowing who in your team will respond and what actions they will take can save precious time in a crisis.

Responding to Incidents

4. Assess the Situation: Not all "wild" behaviour warrants a brand response. Assess the impact on your audience and brand before deciding on a course of action.

5. Communicate Internally: Ensure that all relevant team members are informed and aligned on any public response or action to be taken.

6. Address Publicly if Necessary: If the situation significantly impacts your brand, a public statement might be necessary. Aim to communicate your brand’s stance and values clearly, without escalating the situation.

7. Review Partnership: Reevaluate your partnership with the influencer in question. In some cases, it may be beneficial to part ways, while in others, a mistake can be an opportunity for growth and learning.

Learning from the Wild

8. Analyze and Adapt: Every incident provides an opportunity to learn. Analyze what happened, why it was impactful, and how similar situations can be avoided or better managed in the future.

9. Strengthen Your Strategy: Use these insights to strengthen your influencer marketing strategy, incorporating better safeguards, clearer communication channels, and more aligned influencer partnerships.


Influencers going wild can test a brand's preparedness, agility, and values. However, with the right preventative measures, a thoughtful response strategy, and a commitment to learning and adaptation, brands can navigate these challenges successfully. Remember, the goal of influencer marketing is to build authentic connections with your audience. Handling difficult situations with transparency and integrity can ultimately strengthen these connections, reinforcing your brand's resilience and commitment to its values.

Closing Note:

In the ever-evolving landscape of influencer marketing, unpredictability is part of the terrain. Embrace it with preparation, respond with wisdom, and always keep your brand’s values at the forefront of your actions.

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