In an industry that runs on rates based on difficult to quantify factors like reach and engagement and (sometimes) contracts, knowing one’s worth is paramount. When influencers under- or overestimate their worth when it comes to sponsorships and brand partnerships on social channels, it makes finding common ground that benefits both creators and brands more difficult. Social Bluebook seeks to demystify the value of specific social media channels and followings.
Calculating valuations for social platforms and influencers based on the viewership, demographics, reach, and engagement, Social Bluebook looks to lessen or eliminate the divide between what creators are worth and what they’re paid by advertisers. How valuable is a service like Social Bluebook? Where are its strengths, weaknesses, and limitations? And what should brands and creators know about using it?
Influencer marketing is quickly becoming the best way to reach key audiences that are becoming more and more difficult to reach. As the effectiveness of conventional digital and broadcast advertising is limited by ad blocking and cord cutting, advertisers are looking to tap into new methods of communicating with consumers with increasing frequency. In partnering with social media influencers, brands are finding new opportunities to reach demographics that have proven difficult to connect with in a time when younger audiences are consuming more content on smartphones and less on televisions and desktop sites.
Key demographics (particularly younger demographics) pay close attention to influencers, tastemakers, and social media stars. By partnering with influencers, brands and advertisers have a unique opportunity to capture the attention of those key demographics through messaging directly from the influencer. Whether by way of product placement, sponsorship, shout-outs, or special event coverage, marketers can tap into the power of loyal and engaged followings by partnering with social media influencers to deliver a new kind brand message.
Social Bluebook exists because knowing one’s worth is difficult. Without much in the way of insight or experience as to how influencer followings and engagement might translate to real-world results for campaigns, trying to estimate how much an influencer should be charging for a single Instagram sponsored post to 35,000 followers is a tough ask. There are dozens of factors that might determine price, and Social Bluebook’s service looks to take them into account to come up with a number that serves as a starting point for negotiation.
It’s important to note, however, that this number is just a starting point. We’ll cover the pros and cons in a moment, but a key component of Social Bluebook is that the rate is figured using metrics, meaning that there’s no room for subjectivity. In some ways, a hard numbers approach may provide some valuable insight, but it also doesn’t take into account the unquantifiable factors that might affect rate.
Many of the variables that determine rate aren’t things that can be determined with numbers — things like the type of brand making the ask, how well the brand fits into the influencer’s messaging, amount of creative control, different types of integration, and the channel category (i.e. lifestyle, family, gaming, etc.).
Social Bluebook’s service is two-fold. For creators, Social Bluebook exists to suss out a starting point for negotiations between influencers and brands. The service gives grades for reach and engagement and determines a range for rates depending on the service and platform.
The valuation tool is intended to give influencers some support for their rates when negotiating and to help them go into rate conversations armed with the knowledge they need to ensure that they don’t ask for too much or too little.
For brands and advertisers, Social Bluebook gives them access to available creators (i.e. existing influencers who have registered on Social Bluebook) and also provides campaign tools (e.g. payment portal, campaign tracking, searchable database). Advertisers can search for available influencers according to following, viewership, location, price, and other variables. From there, they can create campaigns with milestones for deliverables and set dates. Then, when the campaign is completed, they can pay influencers directly through the platform.
Social Bluebook is free for creators, but there are fees associated with the service, per the Terms of Service posted on the site. First is a transaction fee implemented on each campaign, and second is an annual fee paid by advertisers. Neither fee is specified by amount, scale, or percentage, but they’re referred to collectively as the “SBB Fee” in the Terms of Service.
Influencer marketing is developing, changing, and evolving quickly, and tools like Social Bluebook may help brands and influencers get on the same page where rates for specific services are concerned. It also gives influencers some insight into their own channels, following, and engagement from a different perspective, taking into account the things that will likely matter to brands as they begin negotiations.
That said, Social Bluebook draws its valuations and rates on hard metrics, which means that there are some inherent limitations when it comes to nuance and variables. Furthermore, any influencer platform like Social Bluebook is going to come with the drawback of a limited pool of influencers — those who have signed up for and use the platform.
Social Bluebook’s rates may also tend to trend higher than market average. Whether by virtue of a culture of underpayment or a disconnect between perceived value and market average, (in our experience) Social Bluebook rates can often be significantly higher than average and may not accurately reflect demand on certain social media channels and networks.