Today’s marketers know that influencer programs are a pathway to increased brand awareness, improved sentiment, and high ROIs. But like anything that’s worthwhile, it can take a lot of time, which may not be feasible if you have a small team.
When a brand wants to take on influencer marketing but doesn’t necessarily have enough resources to run it (or take it to the next level), two main options typically get thrown around: influencer marketing software and an influencer management agency.
Since each of these has its own advantages, it can be overwhelming to attempt to decide between the two. But as always, the team at GRIN is here to help. Let’s dive into the basics of both of these options.
What is an influencer marketing software?
Influencer marketing software (some people refer to these as creator management platforms) gives brands the opportunity to scale their program with various functionalities, including:
Not all influencer marketing software solutions are the same, so it’s important to do your research before committing.
Another thing to keep in mind is that there are open-network creator management platforms (like GRIN), and there are opt-in networks. Opt-in networks function by having creators sign up and pairing select creators with brands. In this case, the brands don’t own the relationships, and there may not be a lot of authenticity in these connections, leading to lackluster results.
On the other hand, open-network platforms allow brands to own their relationships and find partners who truly love their brand. This leads to the most authentic content, which can boost trust with their followers and lead to higher ROIs.
What does influencer marketing software do?
Influencer marketing software can assist with all aspects of influencer management and your campaigns, but not all solutions are the same. For the best results, make sure your chosen platform can do all of the following.
Discovering new influencers
The best strategy for finding the best partners for your brand involves a multi-tiered approach. After all, you don’t want to put all of your eggs in one basket.
An ideal influencer marketing software should offer a few different ways to help you find creators. Some things to look for are:
- A variety of creator-sourcing tools: Trying to find creators with just one technique can lead to you missing out on potential brand champions, so make sure your platform offers a multi-channel approach. Ensure they have a tool that allows for inbound applications from interested creators and a tool for sourcing analytics for creators.
- Inbound influencer request capabilities: When you’re a thriving brand, everyone wants to be involved. If you get a ton of direct messages on social media accounts or emails from people hoping to partner with you, having a tool to streamline information collection and add prospects to a CRM is ideal.
- Organic discovery tools: Sometimes, there’s no better way to find partners than by scrolling through your chosen social media platforms, such as TikTok or YouTube, and seeing who you discover. However, you can’t make an informed decision without data, so having some kind of tool that provides info about a creator immediately is essential.
An open and consistent line of communication is essential for any good business relationship, and being able to manage contracts in one place keeps your team organized and efficient.
An ideal influencer marketing software will include the ability to manage contact information, contracts, and more for each prospect and creator in your program. Some of the best platforms, including GRIN, will even integrate with your email provider to keep all of your influencer communications in one convenient location.
Keeping track of every piece of content your creators post on your behalf can be exhausting, especially if you’re regularly updating each post’s performance in a spreadsheet. A good creator management platform will aggregate the content, allow you to download it to your computer, and give you real-time results so you can see which posts are winning and which could use a little more work.
Paying your creators on time is essential for maintaining a good working relationship with them. Your influencer marketing software should track how much you owe your creators (whether through flat fees, commissions, or both) and allow you to pay right from the platform. And as a bonus, some software solutions will generate tax forms for your creators, so you don’t have to worry about them.
Data tracking and reporting
An ideal influencer marketing software should also provide reports and analytics to help you track the views, engagements, ROI, and more of each campaign, creator, and content piece. This will help you make educated decisions when it comes to future influencer marketing programs.
Plus, having a tool to generate reports quickly and easily will make it much easier to show your boss and stakeholders how well your program is doing.
What are the pros of influencer marketing software?
Using influencer marketing software allows for complete management in a fully digital environment that benefits the marketing team, the brand, and the creators.
Streamline your efforts.
All the tools in an influencer marketing software are designed to save you time, whether it’s the automated email templates and sequences, content aggregation and data reporting, or product fulfillment capabilities. You can take all the time you save and put it towards other matters, like strategy and relationship building.
Manage relationships at scale.
Managing a large team of creators can take a lot of time, and when you’re trying to do it on top of your other duties at work, things can fall through the cracks sometimes. However, an influencer marketing software can greatly increase the number of creators you can effectively work with at any given time.
Keep all of your tools and resources in one place.
Flipping between tools, apps, and spreadsheets can be a downright headache. But influencer marketing software solutions handle all of your duties, like messaging creators, paying partners, and tracking content, in one convenient place.
Stay in total control of your program.
The ability to be in full control of your program is also a strong point for many influencer marketers. There is no need to wait for an agency to get back to you about potential influencers or the results of a campaign. Since you are directly involved in everything, you can receive information immediately, speeding up your marketing strategy.
Manage your expenses.
The pricing structure for influencer software tends to be better for brands than that of agencies. Most platforms, including GRIN, do not charge commissions, which is typically the case for agencies. Instead, you know the flat fee you will pay right from the start, so there are no surprises.
What are the cons of influencer marketing software?
Software requires onboarding time.
Whenever you start getting your feet wet with new software, you’ll have to dedicate time to become familiar with it. Be sure to budget for this time when making your decision.
Software isn’t the best solution for people with little to no influencer marketing experience.
Creator management platforms are great for streamlining tasks you’re already doing with advanced tools and automation, but you’ll need knowledge and experience when coming in to get the best results.
For example, a platform can help you narrow down your influencer options to a list of 100 people, but you’d still need the strategic eye of an experienced influencer marketer to be able to pick the perfect partners from the group.
However, GRIN offers various resources to help you dominate the creator economy, making it perfect for beginners and pros alike. Check them out:
- GRIN Academy: Our online learning platform provides on-demand product training and forward-thinking content that keeps you up to date with the ever-evolving creator economy.
- GRIN Community: Our dedicated Community gives you the opportunity to collaborate with other GRIN users (who are absolutely killing it with their programs) and discover insider tips through exclusive masterclasses and workshops.
- GRIN customer success managers and influencer strategists: With a dedicated customer success manager and access to expert strategists, you always have support from industry specialists who have done this all before for brands just like yours. We’ll give you the tools and resources to help you scale your program and navigate your unique marketing challenges.
What kind of company should consider using influencer marketing software?
A company that already has a bit of experience in influencer marketing and is looking to scale its program is the best fit for influencer marketing software. This way, they have their existing knowledge they can leverage to create a huge, successful program.
How long should a company use influencer marketing software?
A company can use influencer marketing software as long as they want. There isn’t really any point at which a brand can outgrow the capabilities of a creator management platform.
What is an influencer management agency?
Influencer marketing agencies are similar to traditional marketing agencies but focus on influencer management and connecting creators with brands.
Digital and full-service marketing agencies may also include influencer marketing as one of their many offerings in addition to other disciplines like SEO, PPC, etc.
What does an influencer marketing agency do?
Influencer marketing agencies perform nearly identical roles to those of influencer marketing software.
They typically focus on connecting influencers and brands, then creating and managing the campaigns. The agencies usually take care of communications with the influencer and use analytics to develop and adjust strategies.
Agencies will analyze your campaign goals, budget, and more to find influencers aligned with your brand. Many agencies will ask for approval from the brand before firming up contracts and moving forward with any creators.
Develop content briefs.
Influencer marketing agencies will use your goals to create custom content briefs for your chosen creators. These outlines typically contain information on the deliverables, payment methods, brand assets, and more. They’ll then provide these to the creators and negotiate with them over any revisions.
Handle day-to-day responsibilities.
You can cross a whole list of to-dos and stresses off your schedule since you’ll have a team of influencer marketing managers handling every aspect of your program.
Agencies will review and collect content from your brand’s influencers, and if you’re working with a full-service agency, they can pass this content along to other teams to repurpose so you can get the most value out of your program.
Track and report results.
The agencies will track the results of your program, make adjustments as needed, and deliver all of the information you need in a nice, easy-to-understand report.
What are the pros of working with an influencer marketing agency?
You can outsource your entire influencer marketing program to an agency and free up a bunch of time that you can use elsewhere to ensure your business is running smoothly.
Benefit from others’ experience and expertise.
Agencies have a ton of experience and know the ups and downs of influencer marketing, so you can rely on their expertise. This is especially helpful for brands that have little to no experience working in the creator economy.
Grow your influencer marketing program with very little effort.
You’ll have the opportunity to see your influencer marketing program (as well as your brand awareness, sentiment, and ROI) expand with only minor amounts of work on your end.
What are the cons of working with an influencer marketing agency?
Influencer marketing agencies can be expensive.
The ability to negotiate fees with agencies can be a positive or a negative point. It means that you will frequently end up paying more. To make it worse, there may also be hidden fees in the contracts that can further cut into your ROI.
There are human limitations.
Agencies have finite headcounts and time, meaning your program is limited by the amount of human power behind it. The agencies may utilize automation like GRIN to scale their efforts, but the cost of the platform will be passed onto your brand.
Businesses have minimal contact with brand partners.
It can be difficult for a brand to build an authentic relationship with a creator when they have minimal contact. A lot of the time, this connection allows for brand love to really grow, which leads to the best and most authentic posts, so not having access can be a hindrance.
Their experience may not apply to your situation.
You must also keep in mind that just because an influencer marketing agency has experience, that does not mean it applies to your situation. There is no one-size-fits-all approach for influencer marketing, as each business has its own unique needs and demographics. Unfortunately, agencies want to get tasks done as quickly as possible to maximize their profit, so they may try to squeeze your company into a one-size-fits-all approach.
By contrast, if your marketing team or other in-house employees take care of influencer management via software, they will have the insights to customize their strategy for your company. After all, they are already familiar with it.
You have to wait for communications, results, and more.
Some aspects of influencer agencies that seem appealing at first can actually take up more of your time than you think. For example, an agency may market that they take care of the influencer communications so that you do not have to worry about it. However, that means you have to wait to find out whether an influencer will work with you and other details until the agency tells you.
The same is true of analytics and results. Yes, the agency will likely analyze the results of influencer campaigns for you, but they will not give you the results until they do. This could take weeks, if not longer. You could have completed your own analysis and made changes for the better during this time. By contrast, if you control everything via the software, you can view analytics instantly whenever the urge strikes. There is no need to contact the agency and wait for their response.
Additionally, if the agency manually tracks results, they may not be as accurate as a software solution or provide fewer metrics. For example, GRIN calculates influencer media value, ROI, and more, which can be quite complicated to calculate without additional help.
This really comes down to the expectations you set with the agency at the beginning of your negotiations, though.
What kind of company should consider working with an influencer marketing agency?
Small companies with a healthy marketing budget and very few employees or little experience in influencer marketing can greatly benefit from working with an agency.
How long should a company work with an influencer marketing agency?
We recommend evaluating your agency decisions on a bi-yearly or yearly basis. This gives you time to look through results and analyze costs while empowering you to make the best decisions for your brand.
You may continue to work with your existing agency, choose another agency, or take the work in-house as your team and expertise grow.
Keep in mind: Agencies can benefit from influencer marketing software.
When developing and executing an influencer marketing strategy for a brand (or several), the features within creator management platforms can help you save time without losing your human touch. GRIN is the perfect solution for influencer marketing agencies looking to maximize their efforts.
Key takeaway: There are pros and cons to software and agencies, so you need to consider which is the best fit for your brand.
To appeal to the digitally native generation and take advantage of marketing to the masses, you need to work within the creator economy. Both creator management platforms and influencer marketing agencies achieve similar goals, but the right choice really depends on the needs of your unique brand.
If you do determine influencer marketing software is right for your brand, GRIN may be the answer you’ve been looking for. Schedule a free demo to learn how our #1 Creator Management platform can help you.