Does your company really need an influencer marketing platform? Could you run in-house campaigns instead? This post breaks down the pros and cons of...
How to Choose the Best Influencer Platform for Your Brand
Picking between influencer platforms for your brand? You should be confident about your choice! This post explains key features and factors to help you decide.
For busy brands, investing in an influencer platform can be a game-changer.
But with 10,000 martech tools in the wild, choosing the best platform for anything is daunting.
This is especially true for influencer tools.
Why? Because the creator space is always evolving. Not to mention getting more competitive.
And so the tools you rely on to run your campaigns need the right features so you can scale.
We encourage brands to put potential influencer platforms under the microscope before picking. This post can help as we break down...
- The must-have features brands should look for in any influencer tool
- How to choose a platform based on your company’s unique goals
- Key details brands often overlook when choosing an influencer platform
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What to Consider When Choosing an Influencer Platform
What Features Do the Best Influencer Platforms Have in Common?
Choosing an Influencer Platform: 7 Questions to Consider
Remember: choosing the “right” tool depends on your business’ situation.
That’s why it’s so important to do your homework. Many platforms present themselves as one-size-fits-all. Chances are your needs are anything but, right?
We'll cover two types of influencer marketing platforms: self-service and scalable.
Self-service platforms help brands coordinate campaigns themselves. These tools include databases, CRMs and influencer marketplaces.
Scalable platforms (like Statusphere!) programmatically match brands with creators and execute campaigns from A to Z.
To hone in on which type of tool is right for you, start with the seven questions below.
1. How Much Time Can You Dedicate to Your Campaigns?
“Oh yeah, we can totally handle that ourselves.”
We get it: marketers want to multi-task and wear as many hats as possible.
But working with creators is a time commitment. A pretty serious one, too.
We always urge brands to be honest with themselves when it comes to their schedules. Like SEO or list-building, influencers are an investment that drives results over time. Brands that benefit most from influencers understand they’re playing the long game.
If you’re going to invest in influencer marketing, you should do it right! That means giving your creators and campaigns the attention they deserve.
“Not much. Maybe a few hours per week.”
Brands often underestimate the legwork required to research and contact creators.
Scrolling through social feeds. Drafting and responding to outreach emails. Negotiating.
That doesn’t scratch the surface of your most time-consuming campaign tasks, either.
Brands on a time crunch have the most to gain from a scalable influencer marketing platform. Taking a hands-off approach frees up your schedule. This gives you plenty of time to track your campaign progress without doing all the work yourself.
“We actually have a dedicated team member to manage our campaigns.”
More brands today are bringing on full-time influencer specialists to take the reins.
Makes sense! We often say that influencer marketing is a full-time job. This is especially true when you’re doing everything in-house. This includes:
- Shipping and fulfillment (think: getting products into influencers’ hands)
- Managing influencer relations
- Handling campaign reporting and KPIs
Some self-service influencer platforms provide a place for you to consolidate some of these tasks. For example, they might offer an inbox or dashboard to manage your campaigns.
A scalable platform takes all of the above off of your hands. That said, you're still in the loop on your campaign’s status and can make adjustments if needed.
2. Have You Worked with Influencers Before?
Again, brands need to maintain realistic expectations when it comes to their campaigns.
It’s easy to dismiss the work required to hire creators. That is until you do it yourself.
“We’re totally new to influencer campaigns.”
First-timers can benefit from both types of influencer platforms.
Self-service influencer discovery tools can streamline your search process. A CRM or database might be overkill if you only end up working with a handful of creators, though. These tools can be overwhelming to first-timers.
If you have a campaign vision in mind but don’t know how to execute it, a scalable platform is ideal.
For example, let’s say you want a specific number of creator posts of a certain style. Maybe vegan women in their twenties or millennial moms with newborns.
A scalable platform manages the creative direction of your campaigns and guarantees content from relevant creators. Contrast this with a discovery tool where how much content you earn depends on your success in identifying and pitching influencers.
“We’ve worked with influencers but we need help.”
Many brands try a DIY approach to influencer marketing and realize they’re in over their heads.
A self-service platform can help you uncover relevant creators, assuming you know what you want. Not 100% confident about what your campaigns should look like? A scalable platform can read between the lines, taking your goals into consideration to match you with creators and build a campaign around the information you've provided.
“We’ve run influencer campaigns in the past. We’re ready to scale.”
Let’s say you’re ready to scale your influencer campaigns. You’re committed and ready to go.
Nice! If what you’ve done has worked on a small scale, ramping things up makes sense. How you go about it really depends on your team, schedule and budget. Do you want to manage all the elements at a larger scale or run a fully-optimized campaign out of the box?
There is no right answer here. If you’ve been underwhelmed by an agency or platform in the past, a scalable solution could be a better fit.
3. What Types of Influencers Do You Want for Your Campaigns?
Audience size is a big deal to brands and rightfully so.
Based on the types of influencers you want to work with, some platforms are better than others.
Let’s say you’re a boutique brand working with a handful of smaller, specialty creators. Are there platforms out there for you? Absolutely!
Thing is, your platform of choice might not meet the needs of an ecommerce company hiring hundreds of micro-influencers.
“Micro-influencers. We want authentic, smaller creators.”
Micro-influencers (<5000 followers) are notable for their high engagement rates and level of authenticity. This results in meaningful interactions among their followers.
Micro-influencers resemble everyday consumers because they are everyday consumers. These creators are actively building loyal, trusting communities. Their authenticity is their superpower. This applies to the power-middle influencers (~10k to ~50k followers) we’ve partnered with, too.
Consider that micro-influencers with a few thousand followers might fly under the radar of many discovery tools. That’s because everyday creators don’t always resemble more “traditional” influencers. Finding micro-influencers in the wild often means doing some digging.
“Big influencers and celebrities. The bigger, the better.”
Maybe your goal is to get in front of as many people as possible. Many self-service influencer platforms allow you to filter creators by follower count. Want to partner with someone that boasts 500,000 followers? A million? Go for it. But keep in mind that follower count doesn't necessarily equate to engaging with your target audience.
Note that some platforms charge brands for content based on an influencer’s follower count. This means that you end up paying for potential reach rather than actual engagement.
4. How Much Control Do You Want Over the Creative Process?
When using an influencer platform, creative control is a trade-off.
Outsourcing any aspect of your business can be a challenge. That’s why brands should approach their platform like investing in a partnership. You should be able to trust the tools you’re using to support you and your goals.
“We want to outsource our campaigns but maintain some creative control.”
You can with an end-to-end influencer platform! Tools like Statusphere translate creative input from brands into pieces of content. We listen to our partners’ feedback and our campaign targeting optimizes over time. This gives you a hands-off approach while still maintaining control.
“We want to put the final stamp on what our influencers post.”
This is where things get tricky.
While self-service influencer marketing platforms can give you control over more campaign details, doing so comes at a cost. The more hands-on you are, the more time and resources are required from your team.
Assume you’re using a platform to hire influencers but want to run campaigns yourself. That means you’re on the hook for:
- Writing creative briefs and communicating instructions to influencers
- Ensuring that influencers stick to FTC guidelines
- Negotiating with and compensating influencers
Sure, the ability to have the final say on your content means peace of mind.
But due to all the tasks involved, this can create bottlenecks for your team and creators. Compare this to a end-to-end platform where you can provide input minus any micromanaging.
5. How Long Do You Plan to Run Your Influencer Marketing Campaigns?
Just like influencer marketing is a commitment, so is investing in a tool. Brands trying to choose an influencer platform should decide if they’re ready for the long haul.
In this case, you actually might not need a dedicated tool at all. For example, most self-service platforms and databases require annual contracts. If you aren’t playing the long game, you might burn through your budget.
We find that brands yield the best results with always-on influencer campaigns. The longer your campaigns run, the easier it is to scale your content production. Likewise, you have more data to tweak and optimize your strategy. With platforms, it's all about keeping your momentum going.
6. Do You Need Total Control of Your Campaign Data?
Maybe we’re biased but access to analytics should be a dealbreaker for brands.
The correlation between high-quality data and business growth is well-documented. Optimizing any marketing campaign means regularly reviewing metrics, trends and KPIs. Influencer marketing is no different.
“Absolutely. Regular reports and campaign tracking would be ideal.”
Any platform worth your time is going to track campaign-level data. This includes reporting on:
- Engagement rate % of your creators’ posts
- How many pieces of influencer content you’re generating
- Reach, impressions, plays and loops (think: TikToks and Reels)
We can’t stress enough how valuable your influencer campaign data is. Again, platforms should share this with you by default. Your data is key to understanding:
- Which products and posts perform best among your target audience
- The types of creators that generate the most social engagement
- How your influencer marketing strategy is growing over time
7. Do You Sell a Specialty Product?
There are creators of all shapes and sizes out there. No matter what you’re selling, chances are there’s a community of creators ready to promote you. The challenge is investing in a platform that can uncover those niche influencers.
“No. Our audience and product are pretty mainstream.”
For example, skincare and fashion brands are safe industries for finding influencers. There’s no shortage of creators in these spaces. Any discovery tool should make them a cinch to find.
"Yes. Our audience is kind of niche.”
We often hear complaints about influencer databases that lack “unconventional” creators. Niche creators are hard to find because their profiles don't always say "Hey, I'm an influencer!"
In our experience, niche brands arguably have the most to gain from a scalable influencer platform. From paper towels to dog food and beyond, we’ve found that small creators can get seriously creative with less traditional products. For reference, note how countless CPG brands are popping off on TikTok right now.
What Features Do the Best Influencer Marketing Platforms Have?
Looking through a laundry list of software is exhausting. We get it!
Brands should focus on the key features to optimize their campaigns and save the most time. Below we break down exactly what those features look like and why they matter so much.
Again, researching and confirming that influencers match your brand is a big commitment. That doesn’t even take into account pitching and reaching out to them.
If you’re using a platform as a sort of search engine, that’s totally cool. Just understand that you’re still responsible for managing influencer relationships.
Likewise, even someone that looks “perfect” on paper might not be a good fit when it comes time to post. There’s so much trial and error involved when finding potential influencers to work with.
That’s why a tool with built-in influencer matchmaking is so valuable.
A programmatic platform only aligns your brand with people interested in your products. For example, Statusphere matches brands and creators based on 250+ unique data points. You only get matched with relevant influencers based on your products and audience.
Why Matchmaking Matters
- Eliminates time-consuming influencer research and outreach
- Allows for easy scalability
- Reduces manual messaging back and forth with creators
- Guarantees that influencers are relevant to your unique target audience
Vetted Influencer Network
The biggest shortcoming of influencer database software? Lack of a proper vetting process.
Some platforms boast about their network made up of millions of influencers.
Sounds impressive at a glance. Thing is, reviewing a million creator profiles manually is impossible. And many of these tools rely on scraped data.
Sure, finding potential influencers through a database can speed up your search. The problem is that you still have to do the legwork of vetting creators yourself.
Not to mention, many of the search features offered by self-service platforms are in jeopardy following Facebook's announcement of crackdowns on data scraping.
This illustrates the value of using a platform with an opt-in or invite-only network. With a hand-picked network, you don’t have to worry about creator authenticity. You likewise only work with creators that want to work with brands like yours.
Why Vetting Matters
- Ensure that your influencers’ posts receive meaningful, authentic engagement (hint: no fake followers!)
- Only partner with creators that maintain an active social presence
- Peace of mind knowing that your creators (and their content) are reviewed manually
Ease of Use
Maybe it’s cliche but the best influencer platform is the one that you’ll actually use.
Because learning a new tool shouldn’t drain your team’s time or productivity, right?
Onboarding should be a matter of hours rather than weeks or months. The quicker you can get up and running, the better.
That’s why Statusphere is designed specifically to save brands time. While we do the campaign-related legwork, our brands monitor their campaign progress in their brand portal. Our platform saves marketing teams an average of 70 hours per month.
Why Ease of Use Matters
- Start and scale your campaigns sooner rather than later
- Reduce wasted time (and stress!) on behalf of your marketing team
- Take full advantage of the platform’s features to maximize your results
Social media moves fast. Like, really fast.
While your brand might primarily focus on a specific network now, that can change in an instant.
Think about it. A couple of years ago, there was no such thing as a TikTok influencer platform.
Fast-forward to the present day and brands have totally taken over the app. This highlights the value of working with a platform that makes it easy to pivot.
With ongoing algorithm and privacy updates, you may need to bounce to another network. Ideally, doing so shouldn’t mean dropping your current influencer platform.
Why Cross-Platform Compatability Matters
- Provides an opportunity to build awareness with a new audience
- Gives you the freedom to pivot your campaigns if needed
- Ensures that your creator campaigns are active where your audience is active
Which Type of Influencer Marketing Platform is Best for Your Brand?
Listen: investing in any sort of tool for your business is a big deal.
And influencer marketing tools are no exception.
You should be confident about getting the features your brand explicitly needs. In turn, your influencer platform should be built to get the results you want.
And if you want a tool that does the work for you, Statusphere can help.
Our turnkey micro-influencer marketing platform handles the heavy lifting related to your campaigns. That includes matchmaking, reporting, fulfillment and more. Our platform is built to save brands time while earning influencer content at scale.
Want to learn more about how the platform works? Get in touch with one of our consumer-to-consumer marketing specialists to see how we can get more people posting about your brand ASAP.