How to Manage Influencers at Scale: The Key to Partnering With 100s of Creators
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It can be simple enough to manage influencer marketing campaigns with just a handful of creators. And after a few early wins, brands might be tempted to expedite growth and start scaling their program before they’re ready.
But successful brands recognize it’s nearly impossible to manage influencer programs manually at scale. A controlled approach gives them ample time to pivot and invest in necessary tools to avoid becoming overwhelmed by busy work.
In this blog, we’ll discuss how to manage influencers at scale by outlining how to recognize the right time to scale, the tools you’ll need to get it done, and the steps that top ecommerce brands took to build powerhouse influencer marketing programs.
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When to level up your influencer marketing approach
If you’re reading this, you likely have a strong framework in place to effectively manage a small influencer community.
An influencer manager at this stage of the game should already have the following tools in place:
- Full email management suite
- Electronic payment services
- Ample storage for creator content
- eSignature software
- Social listening
- Product fulfillment tracking
Once you’ve mastered these tools and can run effective campaigns with about 50 creators without any major hiccups, it’s time to start thinking about scaling your program.
If you’re still struggling to manage a small creator team or haven’t yet mastered the tools listed above, take some time to review the basics before adding more influencers to your team. Honing these skills will save you time, energy, and money in the long run.
What you need to take influencer relationship management to the next level
The most successful programs feature a broad spectrum of creators—from athletes, affiliates, celebrities, podcasters, bloggers, and more. Brands win by forming long-term partnerships with the highest performing creators of the bunch and deploying them as brand storytellers who can give honest product endorsements with a human touch.
But as you grow, you’ll quickly realize there just isn’t enough time in the day to scale your program while maintaining strong relationships with your favorite creators.
At that point, it’s time to consider software that will free up time in your day and streamline your influencer marketing approach.
The right software should include the following:
Influencer management support
Your top influencer marketing tool is whatever platform you’re using to manage your influencer relationships and campaigns. Whether you’re using manual tools (spreadsheets) or automation (influencer marketing platform, IRM software, etc.), your management support helps you achieve the following:
- An exhaustive list of influencer prospects, as well as any active or archived influencers
- A system to organize all relevant details on each influencer
- A record of communication with creators, including campaign briefs, pitches, and contracts
- A library of influencer content posted during campaigns
- A database of influencer performance metrics (engagements, revenue, number of posts, etc.)
Creator discovery and recruitment
Nine times out of 10, the quality of your influencer program comes down to the quality of influencers you partner with. Many marketers lean heavily on a combination of tools to achieve the following:
- Identify influencers who match their buyer personas
- Compare influencer performance
- Track outreach messages and replies
- Identify lookalike influencers (influencers who are similar to other high-performing influencers on your team)
Launching an influencer marketing campaign requires various workflow and project management tools. Keeping your campaigns organized from start to finish requires you to identify tools that will:
- Compose and save campaign briefs
- Supply relevant tags, hashtags, affiliate links, coupon codes, logos, and other content assets
- Track posts and analyze performance
Creator content library
When your creators post for a campaign, you’ll need a system for downloading, saving, or taking a screenshot of each post. Within your content library, you can confirm that your influencers are posting as agreed, and you can also use that content library to repurpose high-performing creator content for paid ads.
Digital contracts and esignatures
It’s not feasible to manage paper contracts with your influencers in this day and age. Instead, you’ll need a process for sending, negotiating, and signing influencer agreements that holds everyone accountable to what you expect from your creators, as well as how you will compensate them.
Whatever ecommerce platform you’ve chosen for your brand, you’ll need to integrate inventory, selling, and fulfillment with your influencer campaigns. This is especially true if you plan to utilize various social commerce tools, such as in-app shopping, IG stickers, etc.
If you’re using a reliable email provider attached to your domain (such as G Suite or Outlook), you’ll have many communication tools at your disposal. You must maintain open communication with your creators before and during your campaigns.
Depending on your program size, you may have too many influencers to email them individually for every task in every campaign. As your program grows, consider adding a tool that allows you to:
- Use targeted email sequences to specific groups
- Send mass emails with personalized tags (such as the influencer’s name, campaign, dates, etc.)
- Customize pre-made email templates for outreach, campaign briefs, and more
Workflow and project management
Your influencer program exists as a piece of your greater marketing strategy. You’ll need to coordinate your creator collaborations with other campaigns, such as product launches, experiential marketing events, holiday promotions, and more.
A great addition to your influencer marketing technology list is project management or productivity tools that make it easier for you and your team to oversee workflow, timelines, and milestones.
Performance tracking & influencer reporting
Performance tracking and reporting demonstrate to you and your leadership that your influencer program is working. When your program is young, pulling together key metrics from multiple spreadsheets and manually calculating ROI is understandable. But once you’re overseeing multiple campaigns and a handful of creators, you’re going to need a tool that gathers your performance metrics for you. Ideally, you want your reporting tool to track:
- Number of posts per influencer and per campaign
- Post views/impressions
- Engagements per post
- Link clicks
- Influencer costs
- Overall ROI
How to manage influencers at scale: Selling your boss on creator management software
The key to convincing management to sign off on a new influencer marketing software is to clearly detail the success you’ve already had working with creators and lay out exactly how scaling the program can increase ROI even further.
When reporting high-level influencer marketing metrics to your boss, start by identifying numbers that best reflect how customers move through the marketing funnel.
Top-of-funnel metrics (TOFU)
Your TOFU metrics demonstrate how well your influencers generate brand awareness.
- Number of active influencers
- Number of campaigns/posts
- Influencer reach
- Follower growth increase
Middle-of-funnel metrics (MOFU)
Your MOFU metrics demonstrate how well your creators engage and inform your audience.
- Number of engagements
- Quality of engagements (positive brand sentiment)
- Amount of user-generated content (UGC)
- Top performing posts (post type, social channel, etc.)
Bottom-of-funnel metrics (BOFU)
Your BOFU metrics demonstrate how well your influencers convert and drive sales.
- Number of link clicks and clickthrough rate (CTR)
- Number of subscriptions
- Number of new leads
3 things to keep in mind before you report to the boss
1. Your boss is busy, so keep it simple.
- Summarize key metrics.
- Focus on the brand’s marketing funnel.
- Use high-level data.
2. Make a presentation that is easy and clutter-free.
- Remove distractions (typos, unimportant characters, etc.).
- Make it “easy on the eyes.”
- Don’t overthink it.
3. Be prepared to answer clarifying questions.
- Come ready with influencer, campaign, and post examples.
- Know the how and why behind successful posts.
- Know the how and why behind poor-performing posts.
Keep in mind, the right influencer marketing software enables one person to do the work of an entire team. Show your management team exactly how much money the new tool will save the company, and make sure you’re ready for the extra responsibility.
How top brands scaled their influencer marketing programs
MVMT Watches is an influencer marketing pioneer. They started their program by finding micro influencers producing content that matched the brand’s aesthetic and offered them products in exchange for brand-sponsored Instagram posts. As MVMT’s collection of influencer-generated content (IGC) grew, the team quickly realized the potential of leveraging creator partnerships as a highly cost-effective way to drive sales.
With only five team members, spreadsheets were no longer feasible to monitor an expanding list of creators over various platforms and analyze the performance of each campaign. MVMT needed a way to free up its team as it continued to scale the influencer program.
MVMT picked software with everything needed to scale its influencer marketing efforts and keep a strong online presence. The platform enabled the brand to recruit fresh talent quickly and helped keep its creator roster neatly organized.
Most importantly, the software offered a Shopify integration, making it simple to create unique promo links for each creator and send them products from within the platform.
MVMT Watches now had a comprehensive tool that put email outreach, product fulfillment, and discount code and affiliate link creation all in one place.
The new, streamlined approach enabled the brand to:
- Grow their creator roster by 7x
- See a 98% success rate on creator brief proposals
- Generate 100k affiliate code conversions
- Build a library of more than 39k pieces of IGC
Tubby Todd Founder Andrea Faulkner Williams started her influencer marketing journey by sending everyone in her “mommy network” free baby-safe bath products. Andrea didn’t ask for anything in return. She just hoped to receive genuine feedback.
The laid-back approach paid off, and influencer marketing became the foundation of the business.
Tubby Todd organized its program by breaking creators into tiers. The first tier received products in exchange for posts. The second tier received a unique URL and earned commission on sales generated.
Tubby Todd initially managed its influencer marketing program on Google Sheets. But adding an extra tier for its creator partners meant the team needed to send more products, track commissions, and produce tax forms. With a roster of more than 400 creators, Tubby Todd needed a better solution for organizing and scaling their influencer program.
Tubby Todd found software that enabled them to send creators quarterly gifts, track commissions, and pay influencers from a single platform. The platform made it easy for the brand to identify top-performing creators and easily repurpose their content across multiple platforms.
Tubby Todd’s new approach gave Andrea time back to run her private Tubby Todd Mamas creator group, which focuses on building relationships, sharing educational tips, and getting the Tubby Todd community excited about the brand.
Since implementing the software, Tubby Todd has achieved:
- More than 4,000 code conversions
- More than 5,000 link conversions
- More than $100k conversion revenue
Nutpods didn’t have to go looking for their first group of creators. They had fans clamoring to be more involved with the brand and part of the community.
Marketing Manager Lydia Lee was tasked with vetting and onboarding new creators for the brand’s ambassador program, hand-packing product samples, and sending them out to each creator. When it came to end-of-the-month reporting, Lydia had to piecemeal data from various sources to report on the program’s success.
Managing everything manually became impossible when the nutpods influencer roster grew to 50 creators. The company runs a lean operation, and it wanted Lydia to continue to grow the brand ambassador and affiliate programs without increasing headcount. While nutpods had the demand and momentum to grow their influencer program, Lydia didn’t have the bandwidth to do it without software.
With the right software in place, nutpods grew its influencer program from 50 to 150 creators without increasing headcount on the marketing team. Lydia could now search for creators, track posts, manage creator content, onboard new members, and fulfill orders from a single dashboard.
Nutpods has since grown its influencer roster to more than 250 creators and has become the No. 1 creamer substitute on Amazon.
Picking the right influencer marketing software also enabled nutpods to:
- Generate more than 1,000 link and code conversions
- Fulfill more than 600 orders
- Accumulate more than 3,000 pieces of IGC
Take it from the experts:
Hear from more brands who used a creator management platform to elevate their influencer marketing strategy.
How to keep relationships strong while managing influencers at scale
Choosing the right creator management platform streamlines your entire marketing strategy and frees up time to focus on the most important aspect of influencer marketing: building and maintaining influencer relationships.
Here are a few tips to help keep your team happy and ensure you get the most out of each partnership:
Show your appreciation
Sometimes all it takes is a simple “thank you.” Consider sending your influencers a quick message thanking them for their content and contributions. If you want to get fancy, you can send something more. That could mean a paper card, a small trinket, or maybe even an exclusive gift—just for your creators.
Keep in mind that your token of appreciation should go beyond anything agreed upon in a contract. Something small and unexpected should suffice, as long as you make an effort to show your appreciation.
Sharing is caring
Your creators give you mentions and shout-outs, tag you and your products, and share your content with their followers.
Do you do the same for them?
“Sharing is caring” should be your mantra for influencer relations. If you’re not giving your creators access to your network by occasionally sharing their posts or mentioning them on your channels, your relationship is lopsided.
Here are some ways to improve:
- Follow the influencers that you collaborate with on various social media platforms.
- Like, share, and comment on their posts related to your niche.
- Mention creators you’ve collaborated with whenever you post IGC on your social media channels.
- Give influencers a shout-out when they do a great job.
Allow creative freedom
More than 77% of influencers say they are more likely to work with a brand more than once if that brand provides ample creative freedom. Restrictive guidelines only kill creativity and hinder the brand-creator relationship. Remember, creators know their audience better than you do. Make sure they are clear on deliverables, then step back and let them work their creative magic.
Don’t ask creators to go ‘off brand’
Most creators have spent countless hours building their brand the same way you have. Asking them to deviate from that path is disrespectful and will only tarnish the reputations both of you worked so hard to build.
Prove fair compensation
“Money is motivation” is an age-old truth. And the same principle applies to your influencer relationships. Money shouldn’t be the only thing your creators care about, but providing them fair compensation speaks volumes about how much you value your creators and their work.
Strong creator relationships are at the heart of every successful influencer marketing program. And as you scale your program, investing in the right tools is the only way to ensure you and your team have enough time in your day to nurture them.
Book a free demo to learn more about how the right creator management platform can help you maximize your marketing potential and get the most out of your influencer program.
For more information about scaling your influencer program, check out our YouTube playlist:
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