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In a recent blog post, we examined how influencer marketing has become one of the most popular and effective ways for brands to reach audiences. This popularity has resulted in a plethora of influencer marketing platforms, most of which seek to connect brands and influencers directly and offer cursory discovery tools. Before investing heavily into these influencer marketing platforms (many are available via monthly subscription fee), marketers and advertisers need to know the benefits, limitations, and how best to use these new marketing platforms and tools.
An influencer marketing platform is a virtual dashboard and database where brands and agencies can discover and in some cases, work with certain social media influencers. Some influencer marketing platforms are “offer platforms,” where they function in much the same way as outsourcing platforms like Upwork or Elance: a brand submits a campaign idea or product they would like to market, and influencers registered with the platform bid on the project and submit ideas for how they might execute the campaign. If a brand finds a YouTuber, Instagrammer, or Viner that it believes will contribute to campaign success, the brand can then partner with the influencer. Others, like GroupHigh, are discovery or search platforms.
FameBit, an influencer marketing platform, lets brands outline specifications, budget, and other expectations for each campaign for YouTubers to see. Tubular gives brands an idea of an influencer’s reach by calculating an “Influencer Score” based on data from YouTube APIs, Twitter statistics, and other social media figures. Similar to Tubular, OpenSlate calculates an influencers “Slate Score” using social media metrics. This platform also allows brands to filter channels by category, geography, subject matter, and level of brand safety to increase compatibility. Both Tubular and OpenSlate are discovery platforms.
Influencer marketing platforms can help brands become familiar with the different types of influencers available, see some previous examples of the kinds of campaigns that influencers create, and become aware of the compensation many influencers expect. Platforms can also be extremely useful for implementing one-off or small campaigns that don’t necessitate tight controls on brand messaging, brand consistency, or require a high level of engagement. Brands that expect significant returns on their influencer marketing campaigns, however, should be aware of influencer marketing platforms’ limitations.
As Forbes recently noted, influencers are characterized more by their relationship with their followers and not simply by the number of followers they claim. While influencer marketing platforms can display influencers’ statistics and vanity metrics, they fall short when quantifying how well an influencer connects with their followers and how this engagement can translate into success for a brand’s influencer marketing campaign. For many platforms, there is no way to discern which influencers will best represent your brand, and as an article by TechCrunch points out, there is often no convenient way to measure the potential for conversion.
Additionally, influencer platforms don’t include or ensure deeper levels of brand collaboration, engagement strategies, nor cross-media campaigns. Campaigns are typically shorter-term, superficial, where brands may not have the best ability to craft the actual content being created. On the influencer side, many top performing, influential YouTubers, Instagrammers, and other digital media stars eschew platforms opting instead to work with influencer marketing agencies or represented through talent management.
Finally, the high cost of influencer marketing platforms can be unaffordable for many companies. OpenSlate, for example, charges a monthly subscription fee that can be $1000’s per month, and Tapinfluence can levy fees and commission deal costs that exceed $50K per year. High-end, top social media influencers, which could potentially justify these fees with big returns, typically avoid influencer marketing platforms.