Bringing outsourced technology and services in-house is nothing new to brands and agencies that want to take control of their advertising and marketing efforts. Over the past five years, we’ve seen efforts for mobile, search-engine optimization and publishing all make their way from being owned by specialist agencies to becoming in-house necessities—each of which generally receives large portions of marketing budgets.
With the recent growth in influencer marketing as a favored tactic and nearly one-half of brand marketers planning to increase their influencer marketing budgets this year, there is an effort to bring this strategy and technology in-house, where brands can truly own their relationships and their data.
The creation of new white-labeled influencer networks gives brands that seek to create genuine relationships with the influencers that are best suited for them an opportunity to go straight to the source, ensuring that programs are customized, targeted and tweaked to their specific demands.
Creating your own white-labeled influencer network sounds easy enough: Find influencers that discuss topics relevant to your brand, reach out to them with your product and watch sales fly through the roof, right? Not quite.
There are a lot of moving parts to consider when establishing an influencer marketing program, from identifying which influencers are best, to billing and legal contracts, and even communicating with multiple influencers all at once. Keeping track of all facets of the program can be overwhelming if a brand or agency doesn’t have the right tools.
To keep these do-it-yourself, in-house networks and programs organized, many brands are turning to influencer marketing technologies and platforms where multiple components of the campaign can be consolidated and streamlined. When creating your own white-labeled influencer network, it’s important to establish what would be most helpful in keeping campaigns on track.
Here are a few features to consider when selecting an influencer marketing platform:
Customization is key to reaching the right audience
Finding influencers that are best-suited to reach your target audience is becoming increasingly easier as new search tools are being introduced, but brands need to ensure that they’re selecting a platform with advanced influencer search capabilities.
Expanded functionality, particularly with keyword and Boolean searches, can make it easier to create targeted lists of influencers who would be a good fit.
This is particularly important in niche categories, where there may be fewer than 100 micro-influencers available in the space, driving a race among competitors to establish long-term relationships with these highly sought-after, precious influencers.
Communications can be scattered: Don’t get lost in the clutter
When you’re coordinating with 20-plus influencers for a single campaign, each of which may use their phone or email to communicate, things can get a bit hectic and emails or texts can get lost in the shuffle.
As you would at any company, whether it’s Slack or Google Chat, having a single platform where all communication is consolidated can be extremely helpful in identifying where influencers are in the campaign process and what actions need to be taken for the program to progress.
When selecting influencer marketing technology, always make sure the platform has a singular space where you can keep track of all communications with influencers. This saves hours that would otherwise be spent digging through emails for information about where conversations with influencers were left off, who has agreed to be a part of the program and other information that brands may need on hand to ensure to keep campaigns on track.
Avoid the legal drama: Keep your contracts
Last year, we saw the Federal Trade Commission crack down on sponsored content disclosures, and we only expect that to continue as the use of influencers grows as a marketing tactic. Most influencers are playing by the rules and disclosing which posts are paid. However, not everyone is following these disclosure guidelines.
In order to avoid legal troubles, many brands and agencies ensure due diligence by including disclosure agreements in an influencer’s contract, making it clear that the brand requires the influencer to identify the post as an ad in some way.
If an influencer chooses not to disclose this—and the brand falls under investigation—it will need to show that it did its due diligence.
Much like keeping communications in one place, being able to quickly and easily reference legal contracts can also help streamline efforts and avoid legal complications.
Bills have been paid and we’ve got the receipts
Financials can quickly go awry if they’re not organized, monitored and tracked. Working with multiple influencers—all of whom have different contract lengths, obligations and paychecks—can be tricky if real-time tracking is not implemented.
Brands and agencies should look for technologies that enable payment authorization and tracking. Going beyond that, they should embrace all forms of payment, as some influencers prefer paper checks to digital payments.
Strong payment functionality will not only maintain transparency between brands and influencers, but it will also provide brands with more control over the costs of working with influencers, ultimately cutting out middleman costs.
Some brands would prefer to pay an extra fee to have a third party manage all facets of the campaign. However, some agencies may tack on extremely high fees, some of which might not have a clear purpose.
When managing your own influencer network, you have full transparency over pricing, relationships and all other facets of the campaign.
Justin Kline is chief operating officer of influencer marketing technology partner Markerly.