As the influencer marketing industry continues to mature, influencer marketing platforms have both grown and evolved in their sophistication and application. Many business owners or marketing firms have sought to leverage the effectiveness of influencer marketing by purchasing platform access, licenses, and/or support for a variety of uses including influencer discovery, campaign management, influencer payments, licensing, and more.
For 2021, we reached back out to our original ten platforms to see updates, growth, additional services and more. We were able to secure updates from Julius (who acquired HYPR), CreatorIQ, Mavrck, Grin, and Social Native. Unfortunately, we did not receive updates from Traackr, AspireIQ, and NeoReach (i.e. their data presented below is not current for 2021).
In our influencer marketing platform comparison, we delve into the services most commonly offered by these types of platforms including:
Table Of Contents (click to skip to the following section)
For this influencer marketing platform comparison, we limited our chart to the top ten platforms including (click on a company’s name to go to their section):
Before comparing and choosing an influencer marketing platform, it’s helpful to have a prioritized checklist of influencer-related items, services, and must-have functionality deemed necessary for the success of your brand, agency, or campaign.
Some of these checklist items could include the type and size of influencer you’re seeking to work with (e.g. micro-influencers on Instagram vs. mega influencer), a heavy preference towards a specific social media app (e.g. TikTok), the functionality to sift through influencers via keyword mentions, and/or a platform that has robust bot detection software/vetting in place.
For example, brands who do a lot of business on Instagram will need to have a platform that includes Instagram. Similarly, if your target audience is on Twitch or you’re seeking to launch TikTok influencer marketing campaigns, vetting influencer marketing platforms by whether or not they include these more specialized social media channels may narrow your search and decision quickly.
Influencer marketing platforms offer sophisticated ways of searching for influencers ranging from:
Far beyond finding the right influencers, much of influencer marketing success hinges on the ability to successfully manage and execute influencer campaigns. A lot goes into these campaigns and some influencer marketing platforms have various functionalities, tools, and/or services that can help with managing influencer campaigns.
Communication is a critical component for managing campaigns. Some influencer marketing platforms help facilitate communication between marketers and influencers by centralizing all forms of communication and messaging through their platform – this may or may not be the best depending on how influencers prefer to communicate.
Influencer marketing platforms also aid in managing campaigns by offering a system or checkpoints for reviewing campaign content. Some platforms also offer the ability to ensure whether influencer content is FTC compliant or not.
Additionally, some influencer marketing platforms offer managed services (e.g. providing a dedicated Campaign Manager or support that helps execute campaigns within the platform on behalf of the client/brand) in addition to or on top of their platform functionality.
One final consideration when it comes to all influencer platforms is how quickly the platform is able to offer support or fix platform glitches. The last thing any marketer would want is needing to launch or execute a campaign only to find that the influencer marketing platform is inoperational and won’t be for the next few hours or days.
Having robust reporting capabilities helps in all phases of an influencer marketing campaign. Platforms can offer a wide range of reporting ranging from pulling basic influencer info to generating custom white-labeled campaign reports ready for client presentations.
When vetting platforms for reporting capabilities, note whether or not the platform is pulling real insights (i.e. actual impressions vs. estimated) and/or any crucial social media app-specific KPI (e.g. Instagram Story opens). In some cases, platforms that offer these deeper insights can only do so if influencers choose to authenticate their channels for each separate brand campaign — otherwise, these reporting capabilities may not be possible.
For customized reporting, some platforms may allow users to show different metrics (and omit others) and/or edit the actual metric.
Facilitating payment between the client/brand and the influencer(s) is a central function for influencer marketing platforms. Paying influencers (and conversely, getting paid by brands) can get messy — platforms can help reduce and streamline this process by ensuring payments are available from the client/brand and are released upon satisfactory campaign completion.
Depending on how each influencer marketing platform structures their service/access fee, a certain percentage of each influencer payment may go directly to the platform.
As influencer marketing has grown in its sophistication and requirements, contracts are now being utilized regularly by both brands and influencers to ensure timely execution of deliverables and payment. Some platforms offer boilerplate or customizable contracts to aid both brands and influencers.
While standardizing and offering ready-made contracts is helpful, brands and influencers should ensure that contracts can be adapted to meet the needs of each campaign. Some platform contracts may stipulate that all campaign content generated from the platform is owned by the platform.
Paid media is a way to amplify a brand’s influencer marketing efforts. Some platforms have paid media functionality baked in where a brand can put ad spend behind well-performing influencer content and push it across specific social media platforms.
If paid media is a fundamental or critical part of your marketing strategy, check to see if the influencer marketing platform offers these capabilities and if so, what paid media functionality and options are available (including additional contract verbiage dealing with licensing, copyrights, rights to reproduce).
Up until 2017, bots and fake followers were rampant on influencer platforms. Almost anyone could create a fake Instagram account, purchase fake followers, post stock pictures and get brand deals on platforms.
Since then, influencer marketing platforms have begun to offer bot/fake follower detection tools, measurement, and ratings to ensure levels of authenticity for each influencer on the platform.
In order to ensure each influencer’s authenticity, some platforms cross analyze third-party data (for demographics, analytics) against the influencer’s first party data (actual analytics pulled directly from each influencer’s social media channels via API). Additionally, it’s worth noting how often each platform refreshes or pulls their data.
Influencer marketing platforms are designed to be self serviced and built so marketers can launch their own influencer marketing campaigns from start to finish. However, working with influencers and crafting well-performing campaigns are difficult even with the most sophisticated platform and advanced understanding of influencer marketing.
As such, some influencer marketing platforms offer managed services — hands-on help that ranges from peripheral campaign guidance to actually running entire influencer marketing campaigns on the platform.
These services do come at a cost though and are usually only available either at the highest tiers of subscription/access or come at an additional ad hoc cost. For most marketers, managed services from influencer marketing platforms is akin to paying for both the platform and an agency.
Some brands choose to forego the cost and complexity of influencer marketing platforms and work with influencer marketing agencies to help them strategize, plan, launch and run influencer marketing campaigns. This can often be less work and cost less than when brands do it on their own with an influencer marketing platform.
Pricing for influencer marketing platforms is just as varied and nuanced as one would expect. There is not a universal pricing model though many platforms have charged fees (or still do) by taking a certain percentage of transactions that occur on their platform.
Others may do the same and also levy a monthly or yearly license with additional services such as managed services, support chat, paid media, licensing influencer content, etc. garnering additional ad hoc costs.
As influencer marketing platforms have come and gone, some of the newer companies are adopting more scalable pricing — meaning pricing is determined by number of influencers used or number of campaigns executed — making platforms a more viable option for smaller or startup businesses.
Julius is an influencer marketing platform based in New York and founded in 2012. Julius provides marketers (brands and agencies) discovery tools, “workflows,” reporting for influencer campaigns, and managed services. Julius acquired influencer marketing platform HYPR in March of 2020.
Julius caters to brands seeking to execute their own influencer marketing in-house and agencies who desire to expand their influencer marketing capabilities via Julius.
From a demo standpoint, Julius offers marketers the ability to reverse search (e.g. does not eat dairy) and also search via cause association (e.g. women’s rights), but lacks the ability to search by emoji. Influencers’ previously sponsored posts can also be researched, and deleted posts can be resurfaced. Julius’s database of over 25 million influencer profiles is curated, vetted and updated by human intelligence.
It’s also worth noting that anything inputted into Julius’ platform becomes public access and searchable/accessible by other marketers. Julius is used by companies including Nike, Foot Locker, and GoDaddy.
Acquired by Julius in March 2020, see Julius.
In an increasingly crowded marketplace, Traackr has developed (or “coined”) a few tools and terminology that helps differentiate the platform. Essentially all platforms that help manage influencers and other aspects of executing campaigns are providing brand customers with a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) — software that aids in managing relationships with potential, current, and past customers or clients.
Traackr’s IRM (Influencer Relationship Management) platform features IMB (Influencer Market Benchmark) — Traackr’s standardization of measuring influencer content impact across different industries. In addition to IMB, Traackr platform can be used by brands and agencies. Across six funding rounds, Traackr has raised $12.7 million to date.
Formerly known as SocialEdge and headquartered in Los Angeles, CreatorIQ has raised over $40 million to be the industry’s leading influencer marketing enterprise cloud platform. CreatorIQ’s platform is “powerful enough for the world’s biggest enterprises and nimble enough for its most innovative.” Creator IQ was also named to Inc. 5000’s fastest-growing company list.
CreatorIQ’s platform strengths include its completely white-labeled service and extremely customizable reporting (e.g. generating original research tags vs. being restricted to using predetermined or pre-populated tags) all while remaining a completely private CRM to the user – useful for agencies.
While CreatorIQ’s platform is sophisticated enough to authenticate and report on KPIs such as Instagram Story views, influencers may opt out of authentication. Companies that utilize CreatorIQ include AB Inbev, Airbnb, Calvin Klein, CVS, Disney, H&M, Mattel, Sephora, and Unilever.
While not the largest database of influencers, Mavrck does offer managed services (including forecasting results and optimizing for key performance benchmarks), white labeling for agencies, and influencer marketing training/classes.
Its platform emphasizes bot detection software and brand safety evaluation while also including the means to measure sales and ROI (both online conversions and at retail) on an enterprise scale.
Mavrck recently acquired GroupHigh, previously a blogger and blogger outreach tool, to bolster their social media app and platform offerings. Across nine funding rounds, Mavrck has raised $21.4 million to date.
A relative newcomer, Grin is quickly making a name for itself with its ease of use interface, popular platform integrations (including PayPal, Woocommerce, SMS, Gmail, use of Google Vision, etc.), and its ability to attribute revenue across campaigns. Grin counts millennial brand MVMT as its client along with Sony and Macy’s.
Grin’s pricing information is not disclosed however reviewers have mentioned that Grin is priced on a sliding scale (vs. a yearly or monthly fee) making it more accessible to growing and small businesses.
While a relative newcomer to the space (2015), Tagger offers a number of beneficial SaaS and influencer marketing platform functionalities including social listening capabilities (e.g. ability to search influencer’s past sponsored posts with similar or competitor brands), demographic and geographic audience percentage search (e.g. at least 15% audience in Canada or 80% male audience, etc.), and the ability to search by emoji. Their unique mentions engine lets users toggle between organic and sponsored posts, allowing them to measure social health and conduct competitor research.
While search and discovery is a noted strength of Tagger Media’s platform (both intuitive and highly accurate), its management tools appeared buggy and the database offered what seemed like “lower quality” influencers compared to other platforms.
AspireIQ offers transparent, tier-based pricing and solutions for influencer marketing, content creation, and also managed services. Formerly Revfluence, AspireIQ has been around since 2013 and has raised $9.8 million across three funding rounds.
As a self-service platform, it is surprisingly affordable and AspireIQ is one of the few platforms that automatically obtains content usage rights for influencer content to be repurposed (e.g. branded video and image assets across all brand marketing channels such as paid social ads, website, etc.).
AspireIQ offers the standard influencer marketing platform services including discovery, campaign management, influencer payments, contracts/licensing, reporting, but does stop short of paid media options.
Social Native has a number of features that help differentiate itself from other influencer marketing platforms. It’s heavy on the tech — using IBM Watson’s AI to power their content and influencer platforms.
Social Native emphasizes its tech capabilities from sourcing and inviting top performing influencers to specific campaigns to generating branded/influencer content at greater scale.
Also one of the older influencer marketing platforms, NeoReach offers trackable link technology, bot detection, API integration, and managed services across most social media and blog platforms (except Twitch and TikTok). NeoReach has raised $4.3 million across three funding rounds.
While not the largest, NeoReach has a sizable database of over five million influencers and its influencer search capabilities offers over 40 filtering criteria including brand affinity, language, and income. NeoReach can also build customized influencer marketing management software leveraging its search index and social intelligence.