Influencer marketing gets a lot of attention these days, and for good reason: it’s highly effective. This marketing method, in fact, has one of the highest returns in the business. As marketers, we tend to give the most overall effort to what works, which in turn keeps the ROI high. To that end, the level of investment for influencer marketing has been growing rapidly, and a larger number of companies need help tapping into the audiences that influencers have fostered in order to grow their customer base.
As part of that growth, though, they are also looking for outside resources. One of the drawbacks of influencer marketing is the level of effort required on the part of the business: influencer discovery, engagement, and campaign management all require resources. Because many businesses struggle to handle these tasks in-house, many are choosing to engage influencer marketing services to help them. Here’s what you need to know before engaging with one.
What are Influencer Marketing Services?
Let’s start by defining some terminology. Influencer marketing may be big, but it remains a relatively new way to reach customers. By itself, influencer marketing distinguishes itself from celebrity endorsements in that it uses word-of-mouth from private individuals. It’s also more organized than the old-fashioned referrals from friends and families.
Influencer marketing services, then, are 3rd party companies who often have a dedicated team that plans, executes, and manages influencer marketing campaigns for a variety of clients. I’m calling them a service rather than an “agency” because the variety and scope of services available can vary considerably.
For some influencer marketing services, working with them can be as simple as your telling them what business goals you have for leveraging influencers and budget. Then, they do the work and report back as the campaign progresses. Other influencer marketing services do little more than help you find the right influencer and handle the influencer management. Between these extremes are a variety of hybrid models that let you be involved at your comfort level and price tolerance.
What are Influencer Marketing Campaigns?
In a nutshell, influencer marketing campaigns are efforts directed to increase brand awareness, boost sales, or achieve another marketing goal by leveraging influencers and their networks. They can take many forms, from simple content creation and posting, all the way to elaborate giveaways and video outreach. Typically, these campaigns include several steps, most of which can be done by an influencer marketing service.
For all influencer marketing campaigns, the first step is strategy. This should specify how you intend to leverage influencers on social media to accomplish your business goals. These specifications will focus on your company’s products and services, while also considering your target audience. Armed with this information, you can tell an influencer marketing service a lot about the kind of influencer you need for the campaign.
Besides goals and market segment, an influencer campaign strategy often includes what tactical “asks” a brand will have for content creation and amplification as well as selection of which social platforms, such a Instagram, to target. Choice of platforms will depend heavily on the kind of content you want produced or amplified, as well as consumer demographics. In addition, some platforms are more popular than others.
Once you have a strategy, it’s time to find relevant influencers for your influencer campaign. Plenty of influencer marketing tools help with identification, but your social listening software is instrumental too. In a nutshell, influencer identification centers around finding people who have some brand affinity and can reach the customers you are targeting. Influencer marketing services can help here, too.
There’s a sense in which this is the easiest part of your campaign, because it involves nurturing your relationships with influencers. It also takes time, because proper outreach includes interacting with influencer content. And similar to sales efforts, reaching out also involves learning what an influencer likes to help with activation.
Once your brand has nurtured influencer relationships, it’s time to activate them. Influencer marketing services are very helpful with this, because they can help you convince an influencer to help you. One of these services (or your internal marketing department) can ask an influencer if they’d like to do a collaboration and reveal the proposed compensation. If you’ve done the relationship nurturing right, you have a good chance of success.
Influencer management is simply the process of working with influencers and running the related campaigns. Contracts are signed, compensation paid or shipped, and performance is verified. This part of the job is quite a bit like other vendor relationships, but it’s always personal in that the service provided is personal. At the same time, influencer management can be very time consuming. Having an influencer marketing service help at this point is often beneficial.
Influencer marketing campaign ROI reporting
Finally, all influencer marketing campaigns require monitoring and reporting. Monitoring can be performed several different ways. For instance, you might track the “likes” and “shares” received for a piece of content or track how many sales are made through a special link or code. Either way, this can help with both payment and reporting. Perhaps the hardest part, though, is deciding how much increased brand awareness is worth. An influencer marketing service will typically help in this area.
Who Provides Influencer Marketing Services?
As I said above, influencer marketing services can involve a continuum of task from comprehensive planning and management, all the way to influencer introduction with little else. And just as there’s no single service plan, there’s more than one kind of company providing those services. Everything from large agencies to solopreneurs can be involved.
Digital marketing agencies
Unsurprisingly, a major source of influencer marketing services is the digital marketing agencies. These companies typically do a lot more than simply influencer marketing: in fact, for most of them this technique is a more recent addition to their offerings. Chances are that they started doing something else, such as general social media or selling online advertising.
Going with a company like this has one major advantage: they typically can focus on the bigger picture. Influencer marketing is a subset of social media marketing in general, but it also has roots in other techniques. A digital marketing agency can help you build influencer marketing services into your overall digital strategy. In this way, you can benefit from a holistic approach and build customer loyalty even if your marketing department is less familiar with digital techniques.
Influencer marketing agencies
If digital marketing agencies are the generalists, your influencer marketing agencies are the specialists. This means that they either only provide influencer marketing services, or their expertise beyond it is extremely limited. With that said, there’s still a lot of diversity in how much these agencies will do for you. For instance, some will mainly help with a single campaign, while others can take over that part of your strategy.
With that said, even influencer marketing agencies often specialize. As some experts have pointed out, there are agencies which provide influencer marketing services for the fashion industry, automotive companies, consumer products conglomerates, and more. Your first concern when selecting a provider is ensuring that they have expertise in the types of products and services that you sell.
Another concern with these agencies is determining what level of influencer marketing services you want them to provide. Especially with influencer-specific agencies, having a firm grasp of where influencer marketing fits in with your overall strategy is key. After all, influencer marketing services from these companies typically doesn’t involve any other kind of social media work, much less other digital assets.
With that said, using an influencer agency can be highly beneficial. Because influencer searches and management consume a lot of time, it can be difficult for many companies to handle everything themselves. This is especially true with small and medium sized companies who don’t have a large marketing department. On the other hand, personal relationships often have the most value for small firms. There’s always a balance to strike.
Finally, many independent consultants provide influencer marketing services. Typically, these individuals help you with high-level strategy or a specific part of your upcoming influencer marketing campaigns. Companies of all sizes can seek out consultants when they need a thorny problem solved. Usually these consultations are short term engagements, but they can really get a company out of their rut. Individualized attention can be pure gold for a struggling strategy.
Of course, along with this individual attention comes a drawback: you’re only dealing with one person. This means that you’ll have to act on advice given yourselves, or purchase influencer marketing services from others to get the job done. Depending on your corporate goals, however, this can be just the solution.
Are Influencer Marketing Services Worth It?
As you can see, influencer marketing services involve many different areas and emphases. They are also provided by different kinds of companies or individuals. What this means in practice is that, not only does one size not fit all, but you must decide what’s “worth it” for your company. Luckily, there are several things to consider when determining if influencer marketing services are right for you.
Have you done this before?
If you are new to influencer marketing, then investing in influencer marketing services is your quickest way to tap into the power of this technique. One reason for this is that you can talk to fellow professionals that have designed and managed campaigns before. They can talk to you about different options and why you should choose each one.
Another reason people new to influencer marketing should consider using these services is influencer marketing requires relatively complex steps. Each campaign requires a different vendor (influencer) and personality. Besides this, identifying those influencers and nurturing relationships is a lot of work even in the best of circumstances. Then, measuring results is done differently from the analytics used in other methods of marketing.
For companies that have never done influencer marketing before, purchasing comprehensive influencer marketing services is often smart. Not only do you get access to experts in this situation, but they’ll do most of the work for you. Even in this situation, though, you need a good sense of your needs before engaging. This way, you can ensure more meaningful results.
Do you want to augment your company’s existing campaign
Even more experienced influencer marketing professionals may want to supplement their efforts sometimes. For instance, if you want to do a DIY approach, you can purchase influencer marketing tools such as influencer search tools or even influencer marketplaces to discover and engage directly with influencers. These options are the most basic of influencer marketing services, and they help take some of the guesswork out of building relationships. They can also make influencer management easier by handling payments or communication methods.
Is handling everything in-house your best bet?
In some situations, forgoing all or most outside influencer marketing services is the way to go. This is the course of action which I recommend in my book The Age of Influence, and it involves developing your own influencer network. Here, using influencer discovery tools and the occasional consultation are about all you need.
Going it almost entirely alone has some advantages. For one thing, you have a network of people that you know and trust, and it often includes corporate stakeholders. For another, you aren’t paying for a lot of external overhead.
What does this mean? If you have your own influencer network, then it is easy to work with the same people over and over again. You probably won’t want to ask the same person for content too often because it can get boring for their network. That is, unless you want to make them a brand ambassador or something similar. Then it’s a long term commitment.
Similarly, avoiding the markup means that your overall costs are lower. Depending on the deals you make with influencers, they might get paid the same either way. But, you’re paying for the administration at an inflated rate. Or, you might be able to pay more with some of the money saved. Either way, cutting out the middle man can improve the economics and ROI for each campaign.
The bottom line
At the end of the day, choosing to purchase influencer marketing services is a question of value and expertise. If you need to learn the ropes, then having outside services take over all or some of the tasks can be beneficial. It’s also a great idea if your marketing staff is too small for the amount of work. However, if you have the staff and expertise then largely going it alone is often the best option.
Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash
Influencer Marketing Services FAQs
The cost for influencer marketing depends on where you will be getting the service. You can get influencer marketing services from digital marketing agencies, influencer marketing agencies, independent consultants or even running them in-house. But the general cost of influencer marketing services according to the latest reports is $1000 to $1 million per post and it may vary due to other factors involved.
Here are the services influencers can offer:
1. Post social media content
2. Create blog posts
3. Make YouTube videos featuring your products
4. Promote your products via giveaways and contests
Check these things that you need to know when selling influencer marketing services:
1. Determine the objectives of your marketing strategy
2. Create a standalone budget for influencer marketing
3. Invest in long-term relationships by creating long-term programs
4. Choose the right influencer
5. Train and educate everyone that is involved in the program
Yes, influencer marketing is effective in 2021. In fact, 66% of brands are expected to increase their budget in influencer marketing because they have seen the value of social media influencers. Even marketers, almost all of them (93%) have used influencer marketing. This means that most marketers are confident in using the strategy.
Anyone can be an influencer with just a thousand followers! Users with follower count between 1,000-10,000 are referred to as Nano-influencers. They are the smallest category of influencer followed by Micro-influencers (10,000-100,000 followers); Macro-influencers (100,000-1,000,000 followers) and Mega-influencers (more than 1M followers).