Influencer marketing is booming. Influencer marketing on Instagram alone is a $1 billion market. The global influencer market is poised to become a $5-10 billion market in the next few years. And now, more than ever before, brands are faced with a dizzying array of options for strategizing, planning and executing influencer marketing.
The world’s top brands, from Ray Ban and McDonald’s to American Express to Target, are using influencer marketing. The market is expanding in all directions, giving birth to new opportunities. Influencer marketing is quickly becoming a necessity for successful marketing plans, and effective campaigns are proving essential.
From fast growth startups to top established brands, many advertisers are quickly discovering that well-performing influencer marketing campaigns can be difficult to create, coordinate, and execute. Campaign structuring and optimization, contracts, content review and a dozen other variables and steps translate to campaigns that can be challenging to manage, particularly without a wealth of experience. Though some brands may opt to do the work in house using various tools and platforms, influencer marketing agencies, with extensive knowledge and experience with influencers and campaigns, can be vital in ensuring the success of influencer marketing efforts.
But what does an influencer marketing agency do and why are they important in today’s influencer marketing landscape?
Simply put, an influencer marketing agency is an agency that works with brands and social media influencers to create and facilitate influencer marketing campaigns. The best influencer marketing agencies manage campaigns from start to finish using the knowledge and experience that comes with managing thousands of campaigns with hundreds of different variables. Top influencer marketing agencies excel at creating, tailoring, and optimizing campaigns for individual brands, marketers, and goals, as a result of having structured and carried out a wide variety of campaigns (often for a wide variety of advertisers).
There are a number of different types of agencies that interact with brands. Creative agencies, social media agencies, media buying agencies all engage with brands to help them create campaigns and reach campaign goals, but each one does so in a different way. The same is true of influencer marketing agencies, which work with both brands and influencers to make influencer marketing campaigns less cumbersome and more efficient, creative, strategic, and deliver upon set goals.
Influencer marketing campaigns come in all shapes and sizes. From sponsored Instagram influencer posts to yearlong, cross-platform campaigns, there are a number of ways in which brands can leverage the power of influencers to best reach and engage with audiences. Influencer marketing agencies make it easier for brands to find and work with influencers, but that’s just a singular aspect of the work that influencer marketing agencies do. Much of the work of an influencer marketing agency takes place behind the scenes, tackling campaign structure, optimization and reporting, rates and contracts, and much more.
A vital piece of the influencer marketing puzzle, influencer marketing agencies maintain strong relationships with brands and influencers to create and execute campaigns that produce optimal results for both.
Influencer marketing agencies work alongside each brand to understand brand values, goals for a campaign, voice, messaging, and a host of other attributes that make each brand unique in the crowded markets in which they operate. An influencer marketing agency’s primary focus is crafting and executing the most effective campaign for a brand by partnering with the best influencers and devising a tailored plan to meet a brand’s specific needs and to reach the precise audience it’s looking to reach.
The relationship between a brand and an influencer marketing agency is based on trust, reputation, and results, and influencer marketing agencies put the needs of their clients first and work to ensure that campaigns are successful. For Maybelline, success meant making itself a big part of the New York Fashion Week conversation through fashion and beauty influencers on Instagram. For American Express, success meant becoming a part of the Coachella experience through its #AmexAmbassadors. There are dozens of ways to define success in an influencer marketing campaign, and agencies work to orchestrate the type of success best suited to each brand’s campaign goals.
An influencer marketing agency’s relationship with influencers is crucial, too. Influencer marketing is growing as the benefits of using influencers become more and more clear to brands and marketers, which means that the time and attention of the best and most effective influencers are in high demand. Maintaining positive relationships with influencers means that an agency’s clients have the opportunity to work with influencers with proven success in a campaign workflow and a history of quality performance. Because they have relationships with influencers, agencies are able to offer critical insights into campaigns and the creators themselves.
Influencer marketing agencies take on the responsibilities of finding and vetting influencers to reach a desired audience, establishing publishing schedules and guidelines, negotiating rates and contracts, reviewing content, reporting on campaigns, and more. They’re the central and pivotal force of knowledge and experience within the space, and as such, work to ensure that campaigns are as safe, valuable, and successful as possible.
Though the world is becoming more and more familiar with the concept, influencer marketing is still deeply nuanced. Factors that may seem minor — hashtags, proper tagging, timing of a post, etc. — have the power to make or break a campaign. A campaign’s success or failure can be broken down to several steps and critical decisions — many of which build upon each other and can easily compound a campaign’s ultimate result.
Campaigns are full of nuance and variables and they can be difficult to manage. Influencer marketing agencies create value by using the nuances and variables inherent to influencer marketing campaigns to a brand’s advantage. By drilling down into the meaningful details, agencies can produce results through fine-tuning and the drive to keep campaigns dynamic and high-performing without creating more work for brands.
Among the most vital functions an influencer marketing agency performs are:
Not only do agencies handle a lot of the work for brands, they also create value by making campaigns safer and more effective for brands. With FTC regulations, PR concerns, and concerns over money spent on campaigns that underperform, agencies provide a level of security. Using knowledge built over thousands of different campaigns with all types of influencers, agencies tailor influencer marketing campaigns to each and every client to usher in success that is targeted, measurable, scalable, and provides valuable insights for brands and marketers.
In maintaining close relationships with both brands and influencers, influencer marketing agencies occupy a unique position that allows them to optimize campaigns on both sides and to protect against things like fake engagement or follower accounts on Instagram, overpayment for underwhelming results or engagement, and quality control. Furthermore, using an agency with expertise in FTC regulations and brand reputation is one of the best ways to safeguard against any campaign activities that might risk damage to brands.
As influencer marketing becomes more crowded, it’s more vital than ever before that brands’ influencer marketing campaigns are targeted, well-researched, and provide value to the brands they serve. Influencer marketing agencies exist to help brands build the most effective campaigns possible and to leverage their experience and expertise to help drive brand efforts forward and to innovate within the influencer marketing space. Platforms and tools that are designed to streamline and automate influencer marketing will continue to exist (and may, in some cases, consolidate), but as long as the essential human element of influencer marketing remains, using influencer marketing agencies will continue to be one of the best ways to create and execute effective and high-performing influencer marketing campaigns.