From the Influencers

Influencer Marketing Pitfalls Amid NFL's Israel Visit

February 14, 2017

Influencer marketing is a popular new choice for marketers...but what happens when the influencers aren't interested in the cause targeted? That's at least what happened recently as National Football Association (NFL) players were about to take a trip to Israel and found themselves enlisted as influencers.

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett—along with a set of other players—were set to go to Israel to play in an exhibition match with players from the Israeli Football Association. Nothing out of line so far, most noted, but a government minister reportedly attempted to take the ball and run with it—so to speak—by taking advantage of the NFL players' presence.

The word from Gilad Erdan, Israel's security minister, would take the NFL players' presence and turn said players into what amounted to goodwill ambassadors. Erdan noted that he was actively fighting against “delegitimization and BDS campaigns against Israel,” and that in fighting such campaigns, he would turn to “hosting influencers and opinion-formers of international standing in different fields, including sport.”

BDS, for those not familiar, is the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” campaign, which seeks to use such economic tactics against Israel as a result of Israel's perceived inequities toward Palestinians. Thus, Erdan's move to bring in sports figures and other influencers could be seen as a form of influencer marketing, in which Erdan was trying to bring more positive perception to the country.

The players, meanwhile, didn't take such a measure lightly—Bennett himself cited Muhammad Ali as part of the reason he'd planned to cancel his trip—and thus many canceled plans to go. Though not all canceled the trip for political reasons, several seem to have canceled, and that's putting the future of the event in doubt.

Opinion about Bennett's decision has run the gamut from viciously opposed to viciously in favor, and this teaches us all an important lesson about influencer marketing: make sure the influencer actually plans to express a viewpoint that's in line with what you want. While this isn't always possible—product reviews, for example, are a form of influencer marketing that doesn't always go according to plan—it's usually possible to control the narrative at least somewhat. Including mentions of certain features or the like can easily be a way to ensure the message is at least partially positive, colored somewhat by the influencer's opinion, but with enough positive flow that the negatives can be filtered out by part of the target market.

When the influencer isn't saying at least something positive about the product, the marketing value is lost. This shows us clearly that selecting the proper influencer is easily the most important part of any influencer marketing campaign.

Edited by Alicia Young

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