Influencer Marketplaces: What Brands Need to Know
With the rise of different social media platforms and digital content consumption, influencer marketing has been steadily growing as a viable marketing strategy. Through partnerships and collaborations, brands can take advantage of the strong connection and loyalty that influencers have been able to cultivate among their audiences. You can find the right influencer for your campaign with the help of an influencer marketing agency or by using an influencer marketplace.
Choosing from the two options would be largely affected by the scale of your campaign and the available manpower in your marketing team. While influencer marketplaces promise to make partnerships and campaigns easier, it’s not without its weaknesses and drawbacks. Let’s find out more about automated influencer marketing solutions and see whether you can rely on them in your next influencer campaign.
What Is an Influencer Marketing Platform?
Influencer marketing platform, also known as influencer marketplace or KOL marketplace, is a software-based program that provides you with data and tools that can help you find the right influencers for your campaign. With this type of platform, you would be able to access an online database of influencers across different industries and social media channels. Some offer additional features that can make running your campaign easier.
An influencer marketing platform works similarly to an online job board. Brands put together a campaign brief, which includes the details on the content, scope, and budget. The brief is then posted on the platform where influencers registered on the site can apply for the brand’s campaign with their offer. All communication between the brand and the influencer happens within the platform.
According to market research reports by Grand View Research and Markets and Markets, the market size of the influencer marketing platform is projected to grow with a CAGR of 26% to 32.4% over the next four to five years. Software innovations that make use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) contribute to these platforms’ increasing market viability.
An example of platforms utilizing software innovations is the company Hypetap. Hypetap has launched an AI-enabled tool, which automatically searches for and identifies objects in social media posts. This can help broaden the talent pool and find the influencers who best suit a brand’s campaign.
With these automated features, influencer marketing platforms promise to make the process of finding and managing influencers for your campaign much easier.
The Different Types of Influencer Marketing Platforms
There are dozens of influencer marketing platforms available today, each with its own set of features and benefits. They can be generally classified into two categories: activation and discovery platforms.
Activation platforms can help you quickly find the influencers you need for your campaign. In some platforms of this type, influencers would send your company a request for proposal (RFP) to catch your attention and be chosen for your campaign. These platforms often perform assessments and checks on the influencers for quality and security. However, this isn’t a fool-proof system.
Another downside to this type is the limited number of influencers available for you to discover and collaborate with, since you would only have access to those who have opted into the platform. Many platforms of this type also lack data on influencers, making it difficult to gauge if the influencer you’re eyeing is a good fit for your brand.
Some activation platforms have a lower upfront fee because of limited automation capabilities, tools, and features. Given this, activation platforms are often used by small companies that are just starting out on influencer marketing.
Discovery platforms utilize a wide range of technology-based tools and solutions, like AI and ML, to listen to social conversations and accumulate data for building an online database of influencers. Unlike activation platforms, these allow for partnerships and collaborations with influencers beyond those who have opted in.
Since this type gathers data on influencers and content topics, it can perform better in matching your brand with the right influencer. Some platforms can even audit controversial language used in posts. Some also have a conflict assessment tool to prevent endorsing an influencer who has partnered up with a competing brand.
A discovery platform can also offer you automation in various processes involved in the campaign lifecycle. This can include setting performance benchmarks, managing enterprise teams, and measuring ROI. Because of their extensive suite of features, discovery platforms tend to be more expensive than activation platforms. They’re also much fewer in number.
What Do Brands Look for in the Influencer Marketing Platforms?
Different influencer marketing platforms offer various features to entice brands to sign up. However, to ensure that they meet their campaign goals, brands look for five key features in particular.
- Tools and data to identify the right influencers
A successful marketing campaign should reach and resonate with the target demographic. For this to happen, brands need to have access to tools and insights that can help them identify the influencers aligned with their brand values.
Influencer marketing platforms should be able to provide key information, such as the influencer’s area of interest or expertise, their posting activity, and their audience demographics. Other important metrics include the influencer’s engagement rate, their content performance, their pricing, and how well they compare to other influencers.
- Access, engagement, and management
While you can reach out to influencers by sending them direct messages through their social media platform, this process could mean longer waiting time and more work for you. A good influencer marketing platform not only gives you access to the contact details of content creators, but it also offers assistance in terms of engagement and management.
An established influencer marketing platform with a network of influencers and content creators can offer a speedier process. This is especially true if the influencers have been using the platform for brand partnerships, as they’ve already been onboarded.
A good influencer marketing platform would also offer ways to make managing your campaign easier. These can come in the form of management of media assets, scheduling options, and automated publishing.
- Insights and performance assessment
Today’s fast-paced digital age entails quick, real-time responses or adjustments. In order to be able to create appropriate, data-driven responses, you would need to have access to real-time insights.
When assessing the performance of your influencer marketing campaign, you need more than data on follower counts and the number of Likes. What many brands look into are engagement rates, conversions, and ROI.
What are the Drawbacks of Working with Influencer Marketplaces?
Many influencer marketing platforms utilize cutting-edge technology to automate and streamline processes. This aims to make the process easier and faster. However, while this can sound very appealing, it should be noted that even the best platforms have significant drawbacks.
- Limited number of influencers in marketplaces
When using an activation platform, brands are restricted to collaborations with the influencers who have opted into them. This can limit opportunities to connect with influencers who may be a better fit for your campaign but aren’t registered on the platform you’re using. Top-tier influencers, in particular, are rarely in marketplaces, since they’re already getting offers from other sources.
On the other hand, when working with an agency, there are more possibilities for collaborations. The agency takes care of reaching out to the influencers who are best aligned with your brand values.
- Entails brands to manage campaigns on their own
While influencer marketing platforms may cost less than hiring an agency, they require more work from you and your team. Even with the tools and services that the best platforms offer, you would still have to operate the entire campaign on your own.
Meanwhile, if you work with a reputable agency, you would pay a transparent commission and receive full-cycle services in return. The agency handles the entire process, from selecting the right influencers for your campaign to performance assessments. The agency is responsible for all the milestones and smoothening granular details, like negotiations, handling briefings, preparing contracts, and processing payments, setting timelines, and overseeing executions.
Using influencer marketing platforms may save you money, but working with an agency could save you time and effort.
- Provides tools and solutions, but not industry knowledge and expertise
The platform can provide you with tools and solutions, but to utilize these effectively, you need to have specific knowledge and experience. These are qualities that are unique to influencer marketing professionals and can’t be replicated by platforms.
When you hire an agency for your influencer campaign, you’re paying for the expertise and skill set that its team has honed through experience. The agency could also provide support for the client’s needs throughout the process. This is especially helpful for clients who are just starting out in influencer marketing or who may be lacking in confidence when it comes to successful campaign delivery.
- Risk of FTC non-compliance liability for the brand
Along with the rise of influencer marketing, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also become increasingly strict with guidelines and regulations regarding sponsored content. Experienced influencer marketing agencies keep themselves informed about the latest rules and standards. Because they handle all matters regarding advertising compliance, this becomes one less thing you would need to worry about.
On the other hand, most influencer marketplaces have terms and conditions that explicitly state how the platform should not be held responsible for any possible FTC violations. The responsibility is solely on the brand’s representatives. Thus, brands using marketplaces need to be extra careful in adhering to FTC guidelines.
- Fake influencers with fake followers can deceive platforms
Many platforms boast of algorithms capable of detecting and filtering out fake influencer accounts. However, influencers can deceive these algorithms by using bots or purchasing fake followers, Likes, and comments. In the end, doing a manual check is still the most effective way to ascertain the genuineness of these accounts and their content.
A reputable influencer marketing agency can evaluate influencer posts and follower interactions. It will gauge whether content and comments are authentic and meaningful. It will also flag if the influencer’s subscriber base is bloated by fake accounts.
- Lack of authenticity, creativity, and personal touch
Ultimately, influencer content is not something that can easily be bought and sold on the market. Influencer marketing capitalizes on the connection that influencers have with their audience and this connection is anchored on their perceived authenticity. Automating influencer content creation runs the risk of removing this crucial element.
Influencer marketing requires a relationship-first approach, one that marketplaces can’t provide with the level of automation that goes on in their processes. Because you’re not able to build a connection with an influencer, you also lose out on the opportunity to brainstorm on possible creative approaches to the content.
- Data security
Running an influencer campaign on platforms requires entrusting them with valuable and confidential information, including your campaign budget. As with any online database, these platforms can be susceptible to cybersecurity issues. While most of them have certain security features in place, no system is fool-proof and there’s always a risk of data breach.
To Sum It Up
Influencer marketplaces can possibly offer a more convenient way of running an influencer marketing campaign. However, they still can’t take the place of an influencer marketing agency in delivering real campaign results.
A reputable agency has extensive experience in selecting the most relevant influencers for your campaign. And, given the broad and significant network they’ve built over the years, agencies would also have the agility and the strong influencer relationships needed to create successful and optimized collaborations.
The best influencer marketing agency possesses deep knowledge, respect, and adherence to FTC regulations, with a track record for running FTC-compliant campaigns. Most of all, a good influencer marketing agency can form authentic connections with influencers. This authenticity seeps through the campaigns it handles. This authenticity is what resonates with the target audience.