An influencer platform is a tool designed to help brands source, manage and measure creator and influencer marketing programs. While influencer marketing is a relatively new component of brand marketing strategies, 17% of companies spend over half their marketing budget on influencers and 89% say ROI from influencer marketing is comparable to or better than other marketing channels. However, as the influencer marketing industry matures, it is becoming increasingly complex — with some brands managing thousands of creators with differing levels of partnership.
Influencer marketing platforms automate and simplify many aspects of running influencer campaigns. There are several stages of developing an influencer marketing program: sourcing influencers, goal setting, managing influencer contracts and post-campaign analysis. In this article, we’ll cover some of the top use cases for influencer marketing platforms, how brands are using them and critical things to look for if you’re sourcing a new platform.
Sourcing influencers is perhaps the easiest component of developing an influencer marketing strategy and is a key focus of many platforms. However, many platforms rely on scraped data, which is unverifiable and may not be accurate. Brands should be aware of the source of partner platforms’ data and should ensure that all providers are getting data directly from the channel, such as the Facebook/Instagram API. Making a decision about what influencer to partner with based on incorrect data can be an extremely expensive mistake.
Sourcing influencers is one of the most straightforward parts of an influencer marketing strategy to execute without a designated platform. For example, UGC has quickly grown into one of the best ways for brands to tap into new audiences—especially since it’s typically perceived as very authentic, which resonates with modern consumers. Knowing that user-generated content and influencers are both perceived as genuine, the best way to marry these two communities is to tap into your UGC and top fans as a method of sourcing influencers.
If leveraging UGC isn’t an option, we recommend following hashtags and monitoring communities online to find advocates. Brands shouldn’t avoid micro or mid-level influencers (10,000 - 100,000 followers), as they can be just as impactful as macro-influencers (100,000+ followers) due to their niche followings and targeted content.
Platforms in this space focus on managing influencer contracts, payments and correspondence and often act as a customer relationship management system (CRM). They also typically contain some post-campaign analysis, although not as in-depth as those focusing on ROI measurement and content analysis. Some management-focused influencer marketing platforms will even connect to your Shopify to manage your gifting programs.
While these features can be a great asset for some strategies, these types of platforms are less crucial for smaller, less complicated programs. In this case, a strong measurement platform with a basic CRM like Hubspot can be incredibly impactful without adding multiple budget line items.
Working with a platform that specializes in auditing and measuring influencer ROI does two things. First, it streamlines the data transfer process, so you always have access to the most up to data, eliminating any reliance on screenshots. Second, these platforms will often calculate key metrics for you to reduce manual number crunching. Teams are more time-strapped than ever. Automations like this can save hours of work and empower marketing teams to focus on strategic decision-making. Having access to accurate data is a business-critical endeavor, as incorrect data used to make decisions — whether in terms of campaign direction or the future of that influencer relationship — can quickly eat up a budget with little ROI.
While bringing on both an influencer management platform and a platform specializing in ROI and campaign measurement can seem excessive, influencer marketing is a large component of a brand’s budget. If a brand can get better insights into what’s performing, both at an influencer and creative level, this can impact revenue by 10X or more. All in all, this is the one type of platform that we’ll always recommend investing in.
Look for platforms that can track followers gained, reach and custom metrics like Earned Media Value and the ability to segment content to gain creative insights.
The most significant consideration when building and integrating your influencer marketing platform stack must be data integrity. For example, Facebook and Instagram have recently made moves to shut down scraping tools and are in the process of reviewing all Facebook Marketing Partners to ensure that they’re compliant with their terms and conditions. For many brands, this means that they could lose access to all data if and when illegitimate platforms shut down.
The second consideration is integrations and connectivity. How well does your tech stack play together? While all platforms don’t need to integrate directly, it’s essential that brands aren’t spending time switching between too many applications and that the software adequately fulfills your brand’s needs. It’s sometimes better to have two products that meet all requirements with less specialization than several that are highly-functional but too niche. To cover the entire influencer marketing funnel, we recommend brands select one influencer management and one influencer ROI platform for the maximum return. Most tools have necessary sourcing capabilities — the easiest part to complete using native channel tools.
As influencer marketing programs continue to advance, there are more and more tools available to help brands automate and streamline their processes. These typically fall into three categories: sourcing tools, management tools and solutions that focus on auditing and ROI measurement. Suppose a brand can only select one type of platform. In that case, we recommend focusing on an influencer marketing platform with a robust suite of tools in the influencer measurement and ROI analysis space, as this will have the most impact on revenue in the long-term.
We recommend selecting an influencer marketing platform that has a strong focus on post-campaign analysis and ROI measurement, as this will help you fine-tune and scale your influencer marketing program. The sourcing and management components of the influencer marketing funnel can be more easily covered using native tools and a basic CRM versus post-campaign analysis, which is extremely difficult to do manually.
It depends on your campaign goals. Are you a new brand looking to build awareness? Followers gained might be the best metric for your goals. Reach is a great way to understand how many people are seeing your content. And for a general, well-rounded metric, we recommend EMV. For more information about influencer metrics, check out our Influencer Marketing Playbook: How to Source, Optimize, and Measure Creator Content.