Choosing the right partner for your influencer marketing activations can have a major impact on the results. With so many options available it can be difficult to determine which platform is the best for your particular needs. Here are some valuable steps to help you choose the right influencer marketing partner:
Decide where you are on the spectrum
The influencer platform industry is a spectrum. On one end you have software providers who will license their technology so that you can manage your own influencer campaigns. On the other end you have agencies who offer influencer marketing services as an extension of their core capability like PR, media, or creative. And right in the middle you have technology enabled managed service providers like Linqia, who use sophisticated technology to execute campaigns, but who manage the process for you so that you don’t have to have hands on the keyboard yourself.
There is no right answer for what works best, it’s dependent on what type of partnership relationship you want. Each has positives and negatives that need to be weighed in making an informed decision.
- ● Self Service: The benefit of a self service or SaaS provider is the low cost. You are licensing their technology with the intent of executing in house. Since you are doing all of the heavy lifting in terms of influencer identification, contracting, execution and tracking, this typically requires an internal team dedicated to influencer execution, otherwise it will get overwhelming fast. The tools are getting increasingly sophisticated, enabling the entire end to end campaign management to happen within the platform, but it doesn’t eliminate the need for internal resources to get the work done. Influencer marketing is not a programmatic buy, it’s a lot of manual work dealing with talent at scale, and that is never going to change.
- ● Technology enabled manage service: There is also technology involved with this category of partner, but that technology is not focused on self service – rather a platform to enable seamless reviewing and approving of influencers, briefs and content, as well as a sophisticated data source for making informed decisions about the type of influencers and creative that you should deploy. These partners offer white glove service in executing campaigns from start to finish, which most enterprise brands require.
- ● PR/Social/Media/Creative Agencies: Given how large the influencer industry has become, most agencies have added a practice to include influencer marketing in their broader services. The upside is that you may already be working with an agency and they know your brand as well as you do. The downside is that influencer is not their primary competency and they often do not have the sophisticated technology needed to seamlessly identify influencers, manage and track their performance.
- ● Creating a strong brief
Once you determine the type of partner that is right for you, the next step is creating a great brief. The quality of the information you provide the partner is often one of the greatest determinants of success. There are different elements of a brief that are important to define, which are outlined below. Linqia has developed a briefing template to help with the process, which you can request here.
- ● Goals & Objectives: It’s not only important to define your goals, you also need to prioritize them. We often say to partners that you can have many goals but only one north star. Defining that north star enables your partner to anchor everything about the influencer persona, social platforms, posting cadence, media strategy and measurement to that KPI.
- ● Influencer Persona(s): This includes the types of influencers that are going to best represent your brand. We are often testing multiple personas to generate a diverse set of narratives that can speak to different audiences.
RFP multiple providers
Now that you have a great brief it’s time to issue an RFP to a shortlist of providers. It’s important to see different proposals to understand varied ways of executing creative, media, measurement and the deliverables being offered. It’s very important to compare proposals apples to apples given how many ways deliverables can be represented when it comes to influencers and media. Some critical things to consider are…
- ● Media/Organic Split: Most influencer campaigns include media these days. So how the budget is split between organic and media will dictate a lot about the resulting deliverables. If one provider is allocating 70% of the budget to organic and the other is only allocating 50% it’s very hard to compare the deliverables. What’s important is for you to know what that split is and WHY the partner is recommending that split based on your stated goals.
- ● Estimated vs. Guaranteed: There is a very big difference between estimated reach of organic content and guaranteed impressions in paid media. Many partners will lump these together to show an inflated number, so you should ask for them to be broken out for full transparency.
- ● Influencer tiers: An influencer with 100k followers garners a very different rate than one with 50k or 10k followers. Just because one partner is providing 10 influencers for your designated budget and the other is providing 8 doesn’t mean that’s a more attractive proposal. The tier breakout of that 10 and 8 is very important in understanding value and total reach.
- ● Measurement: Measurement is incredibly important when activating an influencer campaign. In many cases a third party study like a brand lift or sales lift study is included in the proposal and that will mean less media/organic deliverables than if a study was omitted. Understanding if there is measurement and what percent of the budget it garners is therefore important.
These best practices will help ensure you pick the right partner based on your goals and team composition. The briefing template referenced is a valuable tool, and if you need help or want a copy of the template contact us here.