What People Aren't Telling You About Influencer Marketing
Brands are overwhelmed with options from influencer marketing companies who promise results. But how can you tell which company to choose?
According to Crunchbase, there are 183 influencer marketing companies. That already seems like a crazy number, but there are probably dozens to hundreds of others that exist out there. It seems like any company that knows a couple of influencers calls themselves an “influencer marketing company” these days, which has created a lot of distrust among brands and agencies. This makes it more critical than ever to figure out ways to filter out all of the noise and find companies that actually deliver a campaign that truly creates value for its clients.
Being someone who works in the space, I see so many charlatans out there misrepresenting themselves, giving our industry a bad reputation. With this in mind, here are a couple of basic suggestions I would like to offer to help you sort through all the clutter and find the right influencer marketing company.
Steer clear of so-called influencer marketing companies that do the following:
1. They pitch brands talent, aesthetics and qualitative metrics instead of quantifiable ROI.
In the advertising industry, vendors and publishers are required to guarantee demographics for media buys for every contract. No brand would ever buy the hope of hitting their audience without any data showing the composite breakout of consumers on any other medium. If someone tells you they have "experts" that are eyeing the best talent, then they are swinging in the dark.
2. They claim to use cutting-edge technology but can’t provide a live demo of the platform.
Many "influencer agencies" have resorted to claiming buzzwords like AI, programmatic, machine learning and proprietary technology while naming every AI marketing cloud they can fit on their website. They do this because they have been made to check a box in the market because a few companies have spent tens of millions on data and technology to create an actual AI product. Do not let an influencer agency fool you into thinking they are a technology or AI SaaS product -- make them open the kimono.
3. They tell you they have brand safety technology but never show you vetting tools live in their dashboard.
Most companies don’t have the necessary software to surface competitive mentions, contextual relevance, MPAA profanity rating, and DUI/felony checks. Instead, they hire people to mindlessly scroll through influencers' feeds, or worse, hope that you don't find anything and just glance at their recent feed. And when it is time to create content and distribute it, they don't have the technology to hold the posts in escrow for review and release by the brand. They simply send an email to an influencer that tells them the time to post and what to say. Be sure you approve every post that goes out, and verify that their technology can post on behalf of influencers.
The influencer marketing space is very fragmented, and the hundreds of aforementioned companies are trying to get a piece of this multi-billion-dollar pie. The winners in this space will ultimately be those who can answer the call in terms of data and technology.