You know that influencers are an important part of your advertising campaign when marketing for millennials and the growing digitally native generation, but figuring out how to efficiently manage a vast influencer program can be incredibly challenging. The right solution will minimize the time you spend managing your influencer-related advertising and visual marketing while maximizing your results.
There are two main methods of managing influencers for your brand: doing it yourself with help from digitally native software or hiring an outside agency. Since each of these has its own advantages, it can be overwhelming to attempt to decide between the two.
To help you make an informed decision, we will outline the differences between using influencer software and an influencer agency, including the pros and cons of each. With that information in mind, you should be better equipped to make a decision on your influencer management strategy.
Influencer Marketing Software & Influencer Marketing Agency: What’s the Difference?
As with any other marketing campaign, the goal of your influencer marketing is to boost brand awareness and sales. You want to select influencers that will deliver results that maximize your ROI and numerous solutions exist to help you do this.
Traditionally, you had to hire an influencer marketing agency for your influencer management, but this is no longer the case. Now, you can get similar results in-house with influencer marketing software.
The two options are almost exactly what their names imply. Influencer marketing software or platforms are software that you can use to control the entire influencer marketing campaign yourself, keeping the project in sight and letting you gain experience and unique insights. Influencer marketing agencies are when you outsource the influencer management to a firm with experience in this.
What are Influencer Marketing Software and Platforms?
Influencer marketing software and platforms give brands the opportunity to easily interact with the influencers on that platform, and sometimes on other platforms as well. The platforms benefit both influencers and brands by providing connections. The best programs will include everything you need for the overall management of your influencer marketing.
What does Influencer Marketing Software do?
Influencer marketing software can assist with all aspects of influencer management and your campaigns, but not all of the solutions are the same. For the best management of your influencer marketing program, your chosen influencer marketing platform should have:
Discovering new influencers
This type of marketing software will include a search mechanism that helps you find influencers to help you with your campaign. There will be filters to help you select criteria, from follower count by platform to demographics of their audience. The best programs have the ability to find micro-influencers and macro-influencers, allowing you to reach audiences of all sizes and find influencers regardless of your budget.
Managing communications and contracts
The software will include the ability to manage contact information and contracts for various influencers. This helps with organization and regulatory compliance. Some of the best platforms, such as GRIN, will even integrate with Gmail, Office365, SMS, and other programs to put all of your influencer communications in one convenient place.
Influencer marketing software ensures that everything you need is on a single platform, including payment.
Managing user generated content of campaigns
The software also allows for management of the various marketing campaigns. You can use it to manage graphics, ad imagery, hashtags, content details, and more.
Analytics and reporting
The software also provides reports and analytics that will help you track the ROI and the results of various campaigns so that you can make educated decisions. You may find figures for views, engagements, ROI, URL tracking, and real-time analytics in addition to specifics like a social media tracker or Instagram engagement rate.
PROS of Influencer Marketing Software
Using influencer marketing software allows for full management in a fully digital environment that benefits the marketing team, the company, and the influencers.
Find new influencers
The ability to find new influencers via marketing software is a very strong point. There is no need to wait for an agency to put together a list of potential influencers to appeal to your brand. Instead, you can start finding new influencers immediately via the search functionality.
Everything in a single spot
Brands will find it highly convenient that influencer marketing software allows them to keep all of the relevant information for their influencer programs in a single spot. From communications to user-generated content to analytics, it is convenient to always know where to find the relevant information.
Gain experience and insight
The marketing team that uses influencer marketing software will appreciate the opportunity to expand their skills and experience while gaining insight. The best software is designed to be simple to use, so there is almost no learning curve, but the user still gains valuable experience with influencer marketing management.
It focuses on you
Many brands appreciate the fact that when using software, there is no competition with other clients for resources. Everyone with the software has full access to the features, unlike in an agency where all clients have to share the time of the team.
Depending on the software you choose, it can have extensive integration with the programs you already use for your influencer marketing and sales. An influencer marketing software solution like GRIN has several integrations for example, Shopify, Gmail, WooCommerce, Office 365, Slack, SMS, PayPal, and Magento.
You are in control – instant information
The ability to be in full control of the influencer marketing is also a strong point for many. There is no need to wait for an agency to get back to you about potential influencers or add a middleman into the mix when talking to influencers. Since you are directly involved in everything, you can receive information immediately, speeding up your marketing strategy.
Good for the bottom line
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 of agencies. Instead, you know the flat fee that you will pay right from the start, so there are no surprises.
Using influencer management software is also an excellent way to save time. You can automate processes, such as recruitment, to save you time.
CONS of Influencer Marketing Software
Although influencer marketing software is a good choice for most companies, there are a few cons to keep in mind.
Sometimes only have limited influencers
Although not always the case, some of the smaller influencer marketing programs may not have extensive lists of influencers they work with. This limits the options available and may make it impossible to find influencers that are right for your brand. You can overcome this challenge simply by choosing a platform that works with more influencers. The larger the pool of influencers you have to search, the better your chances of finding the perfect one for your campaign. For example, GRIN provides access to more than 33 million influencers and lets you import your influencers.
What kind of company should use Influencer Marketing Software?
Influencer marketing software is best for any company that wants to be in full control of its marketing processes and keep the various processes in-house. It is particularly popular among smaller and mid-size companies, but the ability to scale with most programs means that even larger companies may find the software appealing.
What is an Influencer Marketing Agency?
Influencer marketing agencies are similar to traditional marketing agencies but focus on influencer management and connecting influencers with brands.
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 adjust and plan campaigns.
PROS of an Influencer Marketing Agency
The following are some of the advantages associated with influencer marketing agencies.
The marketing agency should have experience, which can help guide their suggestions and course of action. Keep in mind, however, that influencer marketing is a relatively young phenomenon, so few agencies will truly have years of experience in this area.
The human connection
Some people simply appreciate the human connection of an influencer marketing agency. They like being able to connect with a person if they have a question or concern. Luckily, the best influencer software programs will make up for this with robust support staff.
Fees can vary
It can be a pro or a con that the fees for influencer marketing agencies vary. This gives you room to negotiate a better price, but it also means that you will pay more than you would for software.
CONS of an Influencer Marketing Agency
Despite their popularity, influencer marketing agencies are not without their disadvantages.
They frequently use automation
One of the biggest complaints about influencer marketing agencies is that they are beginning to use more automation. Unless your agency specifically indicates that a person is working on a task, there is no reason to assume they are not automating it. If the task is being automated anyway, there is no point in paying the premium you would for an agency. For example, if an agency uses automation to suggest the right influencers for a brand, you could have done this yourself in minutes with influencer marketing software.
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 a 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 team members take care of influencer management via software, they will have the insights to customize their strategy to your company. After all, they are already familiar with it.
Waiting for communications, results, and more
Some of the aspects of influencer agencies that seem appealing at first can actually waste your valuable time. 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 that 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.
Commissions and surprise fees
As mentioned, 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 are also frequently hidden fees in the contracts that can further cut into your ROI.
To appeal to the digitally native generation and take advantage of marketing to the masses, you need to include social media marketing. Both influencer marketing software and agencies achieve similar goals, providing influencer management. Agencies provide that human connection and give you a team with experience in social influencer marketing, but that experience will not necessarily be applicable to your company.
Choosing influencer software will put you in full control, provide you with instant access to communications and influencer analytics, save you money, and help your team gain valuable experience. This influencer management software is all-inclusive, featuring everything from social media analytics to influencer search tools to integration with your favorite programs.
In the search for marketing influencer software that includes all of the features you need to manage and scale your influencer marketing program? Get a feel for the power of GRIN and check out their tools and integrations with a demo.