As Influencer Marketing enters its second decade in the modern world of marketing, the confusing fragmentation of providers is lifting. This means more clarity for you when it’s time to either dip your toes in the water or, if you’ve been doing it a while, fully insource the capability. But navigating the waters is still challenging: exactly what does Company X offer? Will they do the whole thing, or only parts of a campaign? Does it require a subscription to use Company Y’s platform?
Who does what?
There is no shortage of influencer marketing companies out there. Whether they describe themselves as tech companies, agencies, platforms, marketplaces, or solutions, they are all working to help connect brands and influencers in one way or another. Some are simply tech platforms that allow you to go into their pool of influencers and search yourself, while some search for you but once they find the influencer you’re on your own. Then there are the white glove services which are providers that do the searching, engaging, and activating for you. These different types of providers have their pros and cons. Choosing the right one will depend on what type of campaign you are looking for, your company’s experience with influencer campaigns, and how much bandwidth and budget you have. Here are a few things to consider when deciding which type of influencer provider is right for you.
A do-it-yourself type solution can mean a couple different things. It may simply be a tech platform where you gain access and search through their influencers, or perhaps the company finds influencers for you, but you carry out the campaign on your own. Many companies see a lot of pros in running these campaigns themselves. One of the biggest is the fact that the control is still in their hands. When brands are new to influencer marketing a lot of times they fear not having complete control over the outcome of the campaign and allowing a third party to take care of it. Hanging on to that control means no middleman between you and the influencer, which could mean less room for misunderstandings. Another benefit to this DIY approach is cost. When you do not have to pay a vendor for what you can do yourself, it will of course be a lot cheaper.
Not having that third party can mean a lot of cons as well. There is always a lot of friction and uncertainty in influencer campaigns because you’re often depending on people who have a full time job such as an accountant, personal trainer, stay-at-home mom or whatever. Especially if you are new to the game, you may come to crossroads and have to make decisions that could cost you engagement in the long run. One of the biggest downfalls to running a campaign yourself is the time and stress it can cause you. Searching, engaging, and activating influencers can be a long process, and a stressful one at that. On the surface level, influencer marketing seems very simple. There are millions and millions of social profiles out there, so of course it’s easy to find the right person for you, right? Just do a Google search for Denver based mom influencers or New Jersey based food influencers. But don’t forget that on top of that you need to make sure their audience is a certain age, and they have the right location, and they create good content, plus their psychographics need to align, their engagement has to be high, and their credibility with likes and impressions needs to be authentic. Even after all of that, are they going to be interested in working on your campaign? Are they complicated to work with? Too expensive? Do they have the availability? There is so much more that goes into these searches that isn’t realized. Searches like that cannot simply be automated or all found in one platform. Lastly, most DIY platforms require an annual subscription. And if that platform’s list of influencers is static, you’re going to see the same influencers appear each time you search for “moms, finance, New York.”
These providers do work well for certain brands and certain campaigns. Those who may be more experienced in influencer marketing may have the experience and time that doesn’t require a third party. On the other hand, maybe you are so new to influencer marketing that you want to run a small test campaign. If you are running a small and/or short campaign with micro influencers, it can be a low cost way to step into the world of influencer marketing.
White Glove Service
White Glove, or Full Service providers, are those that choose the influencers, engage, activate, and carry out the campaign for you. If the provider is heavy on the tech behind the selection of influencers and offers you a log-in at real time stats during the campaign, we’d call them a “Full Service Platform”. There are many pros to going with a full service solution. Perhaps the biggest one is having the stress of influencer campaigns lifted off of you. There is a lot more that goes into a campaign beyond choosing the right influencer. After the influencers are chosen, contracts have to be written up based on the guidelines of the brand, the FTC, and any partnership guidelines the influencer may have. And no matter what, keep in mind, that there is still the possibility of mistakes in the campaign. Perhaps the influencer created a post without #ad. Or content was sent a day late. These mishaps can happen often, even with the most experienced influencers. Most brands may not have time to troubleshoot and worry about these tiny, or sometimes big, bumps in the road or worse may not even notice them until they become large problems. We talked last week, when discussing Facebook’s new influencer platform, that the human-ness of influencer marketing means the possibility for mistakes. Working with humans has its pros, such as authenticity and engagement, but humans are only, well, human, and working with them also means anticipating the possibilities for errors along the way. It is extremely rare to go through an influencer campaign without one single mishap. When you engage a truly skilled influencer service, you shouldn’t even know when anything goes wrong because your service provider has the time and experience to quickly fix any issues that may pop up in a campaign.
The most obvious con to having white glove service is the cost. To have all of this work done by a third party it is going to be more expensive. It’s up to you to decide if the extra engagement and time saved are worth the cost. One of the most common reasons brands are hesitant to go with agencies is their fear of giving up control. Many brands see the product or service as their baby and they are protective of the way it is marketed, which is understandable. They want to have say over the entire look and feel over the campaign, when, how, and what is shown. However, a good full service company will still allow you to have say. Find a platform that works with you and allows you to give approvals on dates, influencers, content, etc. Try and think of this approach as more of a collaboration between you and the company.
White Glove Service is for many brands and companies. It can be extremely beneficial to companies that are new to influencer marketing and have little prior experience. It can also be for bigger and more experienced companies too – ones that might have a huge campaign that they do not have time to run completely alone. This is especially important if that campaign is going to include lots of influencers, niche targets, or long running partnerships anything that may be out of norm.
Another option is bringing influencer marketing in house which many enterprises are moving towards. This can be a long process and it’s important to understand every aspect before deciding if this is right for you or not. Insourcing is for brands and companies truly committed to influencer marketing and thinking about it long term (next 3-5 years). There are many things to consider such as: You may need to create an entire department with many employees. You may need to work with other departments like the brand teams, marketing, and IT to make the new team efficient and effective. But, the upside is that the cost savings can be immense for a large enterprise with multiple brands – into the millions of dollars per year. You can check out our White Paper on Insourcing which gives you details about this process here.
There are lots of options in influencer marketing when it comes to choosing which partner is right for you. Take into consideration what your campaign needs, where you’re at with influencer marketing, and what your budget is. Each option has its benefits and setbacks; think about what you can afford to do on your own or if it’s worth outsourcing to obtain your goal. Once you know influencer marketing is something you want a long term relationship with, then you can think about insourcing and becoming an internal agency yourself.
MATTR is the only full-service influencer marketing provider with detailed audience insights from PersonaMesh™. We go beyond demographics into psychographics such as values and interests so that your influencer campaigns align with your campaign targets.