Platforms versus Agencies in Influencer Marketing
“To work with influencers requires engagement and creativity from you. Once you find your influencers, you will need a plan to engage them.” – Evyenia Wilkins, VP of Marketing for UNYQ
That is #Truth.
One of the most challenging aspects to influencer marketing is getting an influencer’s attention; 59% of marketers have a great deal of trouble with this task. And that’s after influencers are actually found; 75% of marketers claim identification is their single most problematic task in influencer marketing.
It is these exact plights that birthed the need for influencer platforms and marketplaces.
Since influencer marketing has become a mainstream marketing modality, these technological solutions are cropping up all over the digital landscape, helping to alleviate some of the practices most challenging aspects.
But the real question is: Are these platforms effective enough for brands to forgo hiring an influencer marketing agency?
Influencer Platform Proficiencies
Influencer platforms are essentially self-service portals that allow for brands to search and engage influencers in a streamlined fashion. These types of tools typically include features that help individuals track down social authorities based on their niche, reach, audience demographics like age or gender, location, and social channels.
Such platforms have become popularized as they help advertisers identify the type of influencers they are seeking and make the outreach process quite simple. Many of these tools even provide elements which allow for agreements to be made, content to be approved before publication, and other beneficial campaign management features.
Outside of these perks, there is little else that influencer marketing platforms excel at.
The Acumen of an Agency
Influencer marketing agencies are firms that specialize in this particular practice and have racked up years of experience. These companies intimately understand the processes involved in strategically assembling and managing an influencer campaign from end-to-end as well as the measurement process to determine how fruitful a campaign actually was, once all is said and done.
Often times, influencer firms will have extensive experience in executing popular types of campaigns such as:
- Product placement campaigns
- Social contests, sweepstakes, or giveaways
- Social media takeovers
- And other attention-grabbing efforts
Additionally, these marketing agencies often own various relationships with influencers and those within digital media to help publicize a campaign.
So how do the two compare? I’m so glad you asked.
Platforms versus Firms
The most significant problem with influencer platforms is that a brand needs to have an in-house marketing team who can handle the campaign from start to finish for this tool to be useful. Even if this crew is present, there is no guarantee that any of them understand the strategies or hardships involved in influencer marketing.
There is also something to be said for the learning curve present on some of these platforms. Many require detailed understanding of the platform’s functions and features to unlock its full value.
If that’s the case, some might opt for an influencer marketplace which brings brands and influencers together and sometimes offers a “manager” to assist in the process. Even with this solution, however, there are significant problems; marketplaces own the relationships on both ends, effectively selling the brand short of its campaign potential which blocks brand-influencer relationships from forming.
Sure, they can be at times; but this isn’t always true. When you take into consideration that influencer firms often own relationships with social authorities and are able to negotiate premium rates, the price starts to drop. Then pile on the experience and optimization techniques these companies tout, and the discounts become even greater as ineffective messages and methods are eliminated from the mix.
More importantly, influencer marketing agencies are aware of how to manage these campaigns effectively to unlock the highest potential ROI.
Just because you are hiring influencers doesn’t make a significant return on investment a given; influencer marketing is still a challenging practice and requires a deep awareness of the hurdles and maximization opportunities in order to be prosperous.
This is not to say that influencer platforms don’t have a purpose. These tools are powerful supplements to campaign assembly when in the hands of a knowledgeable individual. What they are not, however, is an all-out replacement for what influencer marketing agencies offer: Experience, comprehension, and maximization.
Next time you consider launching an influencer campaign driven by one of these tools, consider how much involvement and insight about the practice your team brings to the table and determine if you can really afford to be throwing away money on a botched campaign.