As the digital communications space continues to be diluted by a proliferation of apps, channels and tools, and more outlets are heavily relying on algorithms to identify and distribute relevant content, it’s becoming far more difficult to simply rely on driving brand awareness as a marketing strategy. What was once seen as the gold standard of marketing and advertising, the outbound push of branded messaging and content, has slowly endured a death by a thousand cuts. This evolving landscape has, however, given rise to a tool far more powerful than the old large-scale messaging strategy – the influencer. The challenge, however, is how do you manage such a program at scale. Enter the influencer platform.
These mommy blogging, weekend warrior social mavens, who have built devoted audiences of followers through the expert creation and dissemination of authentic content, are now the front lines for brands looking to drive a true connection deep into their most active target audience. The challenge for brands now has become less about why these influencers are a vital asset, but how to identify the right ones and manage them at scale.
How to Manage an Influencer Program at Scale
When developing an initial creative brief for an influencer program, brands often struggle with a number of challenges, namely determining which influencer has the right audience for the campaign, who has the most engaged follower base, how their message will be shared and how to manage the scope of work efficiently. On top of all of this, it’s important to understand what’s essential to the campaign and assure that consistency across the influencers is maintained from a brand and messaging perspective. To tackle this, marketers may decide to run their influencer program internally, by identifying and vetting influencers on a case-by-case basis, however when the need to grow a program beyond what can be handled by an internal team, identifying a third-party influencer platform allows marketers time and efficiencies that manual work just doesn’t allow.
Fortunately, this need has not gone unnoticed and as such has heeded growth in agencies and platforms that specialize in the strategic management of influencers and offer a number of different options from self-management to full service strategic program management. The trick is, how to choose the right platform for your needs, both in the short and long term.
How to Choose the Right Influencer Platform for Your Campaign
So, let’s start out by defining what an influencer platform is. Influencer platforms are SaaS platform or managed service that enables you to unify and streamline your influencer marketing. These programs allow you to conduct extensive influencer searches based on specific criteria and receive follower analytics to see what your preferred audience demographic looks like. Through these platforms, you can gain detailed insights as to what specific social influencers’ media activity looks like – such as are they using the latest social media features. This information can help dictate how you go about creating detailed lists with select influencers to possibly work with.
Having a handful of influencers to choose from, provided through a social influencer platform, is a valuable resource as it saves a vast amount of time. Trying to find these bloggers through an organic search can be a daunting, overwhelming task, which is where social influencer platforms come in. When looking for a platform, there are a few factors to take into consideration such as the caliber and network of influencers, pricing and how results are measured/provided.
Identifying the Right Influencers
One of the most important factors to take into consideration when selecting a social influencer platform is to take a close look at the caliber and network of influencers you have to choose from. You want to ensure there are enough influencers to choose from to be able to filter them as needed, ensuring you end up with a detailed, targeted list.
Some networks exceed over 20,000 social media stars. Your final list should include influencers with the specific following and presence you are looking for. Their overall social presence should involve themes and topics that seamlessly fit with your brand image and messaging. One social influencer platform hypetap.com for instance, allows you to filter through influencers based on demographic, geographic location and engagement data. In this step, you want to determine whether you want your targeted list of influencers to be industry specific, have celebrity status, or have a minimum number of followers. Having your options categorized into areas of expertise or a baseline of number of followers, makes searching and narrowing your final influencers a simple process through the use of a social influencer platform.
Defining the Campaign Requirements
Selecting the perfect talent is only half of the equation when it comes to a successful influencer marketing strategy; with your targeted list of influencer A-listers in place, it’s time to switch gears from vetting to constructing. The remaining half of the equation is rooted in multiple factions like message development and deploying your unique call-to-action (CTA). If you recruit 20,000 influencers to advocate for your brand, but they’re all saying the wrong thing, in the wrong tone and driving their followers to the wrong place, you’re going to have one dissatisfied client on your hands. Making sure you’re able to define campaigns requirements when working with influencers is vital when selecting your platform, which begins with messaging.
The right messaging is often found in the earliest strategy meetings when discussing the “why” behind wanting to use influencers. You’re likely using these social media mavens to highlight a product or service, so your messaging can be formed from a manifesto, buyer persona or even a tagline you’ve created. A good narrative isn’t always found within a novel – short-form narratives are the new digital jazz and what better way to showcase these than on social media. Having the ability to clearly define your brand message and customer is key. Popular Pays gives you a structured dashboard that clearly layouts out the elements of the program that can be sent to all influencers working on your campaign.
Keep in mind however, that making sure the ask or your call-to-action is clearly defined as well. Some platforms might not have a clear field where you can blatantly state your call-to-action for followers, so it’s up to you to choose where this imperative detail is placed. Your best bet is keeping an eye out for fields that ask for “caption requirements.” You won’t see a CTA creatively infused into the content – you’ll see it in the photo caption. Any field labeled “requirement” is typically where influencers spend the most of their time during the creation phase familiarizing themselves with the necessary elements to have their post approved.
After messaging and CTA’s are identified for your campaign, you should comb through the platform to see where you’re able to state the do’s and don’ts for influencers to abide by. Oddly enough this must-have piece of criteria often goes unaddressed, but it’s arguably the most important. With this pivotal step in the campaign requirement phase, you can identify competitor brands to ensure none are highlighted in any upcoming posts. You’re able to give them key terms and hashtags to infuse into their content and you’re able to steer them away from egging on any potential negative connotations associated with your brand in the social realm. Again, keeping in mind platform fields that call-out “requirements,” zero in on a field that designates “content requirements.” This section within the platform is perfect for writing out do’s and don’ts – no matter how lengthy your list may be.
Managing the Workflow
So, your content creators are in place and your campaign brief is fully fleshed out – it’s now time to launch your campaign. While platforms make it easy for the influencer to onboard themselves to a project, platforms can also take care of the heavy lifting in terms of campaign management. As influencer platforms put you in the driver seat to manage your campaign, setting up a detailed production schedule should be a high-priority task – a task done weeks, even months, before the first social posts go live. You’ll want to leverage the platform’s management portal to create a content calendar that clearly lists out when concepts, messaging and posts are due for brand review.
Some platforms will even let this calendar be a “living document” which you can share with your influencers to hold them accountable for meeting deadlines. If you’re engaging with multiple influencers, across multiple platforms, for an extended period, the platform you ultimately choose to work with should have its own portal for outlining a posting cadence, too. While you might have dictated the number of posts you’d like to see go live from each influencer in the campaign requirements phase, look to leverage your platform to help you keep track of when all of that content is going live.
A good platform will have a module that allows your selected influencers to develop and share their creative with you, which in turns allows you to request edits as you see fit.
Pricing and Service Plans
Many platforms allow a free trial or at-very-least a low-end option that you can utilize to get a feel for their influencer pool and features. One such platform called ifluenz prides itself in being an affordable option allowing campaigns to run for as low as $15. They allow you to set the price, not the other way around.
Others however, such as BlogLovin’ require a minimum monthly fee (in this case $2,500), which would prove to be extremely cost effective if you are running a number of programs, but can also be extremely restrictive if you may only run 1-2 per year.
We’d recommend you pay close attention to the variations in pricing and plan your budget accordingly.
How Success is Measured
As your campaign is running and once it has concluded, you’ll want to be able to assess the results. Influicity, for example provides powerful analytics & reports all in real time. This data will allow you to see what the campaign impressions and reach look like. Knowing what these reports look like in advance of selecting an influencer platform can be a deal breaker for many as the option of having real time data at your fingertips is a competitive draw.
Be sure to identify KPIs and key metrics early on in your brief development to ensure your influencers are creating content that either drives more a particular action or is geared for general engagement.
Be More Effective at Influencer Marketing
At Motion PR, we use social influencers with many of our clients as a part of our greater public relations strategy. When you harness the power of social media to bring a brand to a wide audience, you are opening up entirely new connections and networks you might otherwise have missed. The use of social influencer platforms allows you to develop longstanding relationships. Even in the new frontier of influencer marketing, this is a game changer that allows you to put creativity in the driver’s seat.