The timing of Advowire’s launch in early 2015 coincided with influencer marketing’s arrival into the mainstream. It’s the kind of timing that could give the appearance of a product that’s trying to cash in on the latest trend, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
For one thing, Advowire was created by HireInfluence, a full service digital marketing firm founded in 2011. Since day one, they’ve used influencer marketing to execute on the content creation strategies they design for their clients. And with clients like Gatorade, Oreo, Southwest Airlines, and Warner Bros., it’s safe to say they’d already staked their claim in the IM landscape. Advowire isn’t the result of a company jumping into influencer marketing trying to get a piece of the pie. It’s the product of a company that’s already baked that pie successfully and now wants to serve it a la mode.
There’s also the matter of this fact: HireInfluence hasn’t done a single bit of marketing for its platform since its inception. Instead, they slowly built the platform, encouraging influencers they’ve worked with to come on board and let of word of mouth take it from there. This toes-in-the-water approach has allowed them to tweak, improve, and refine Advowire into its current incarnation: a self-service marketing platform that gives empowers creators as much as brands to find success with influencer marketing.
Summary: Quick Jump Menu
Advowire’s creator community consists of influencers who opt-in to the platform and create profiles and media kits for themselves. Creators pay nothing to access the platform, nor do they pay any commissions or fees on any income they generate.
For brands and agencies, access is done on a subscription basis with four levels of service. As you would expect, upgrading your level of service gets you access to more features. It also increases the number of credits you get for performing certain actions on the platform (think of LinkedIn’s system of charging credits to send InMail to other users, and you get the idea). To better understand what those credits are worth, here’s the breakdown of how they work:
- First time message to an influencer, 2 credits
- Create post on Opportunity Board, 10 credits
- Promote and broadcast an event, 10 credits
- Influencer campaign on Twitter, 12 credits per content share
We’ll get into specifics about each of these features in a bit, but now you have context for the plan descriptions that follow:
Includes 25 credits, and access to: Opportunity Board, Member Content Stream, Member Profile View, Direct Chat, and Content Marketplace
This is essentially a trial subscription, though 25 credits are enough to test the waters for getting content. You can also browse through recent content published by creators, click through to their profile pages, and view their media kits all day long. What you can’t do is an actual search for influencers who meet your desired criteria. Access to the Influencer Search Engine starts at the Professional Plan.
Includes 100 credits, Basic Features, plus access to the Event Promote & Broadcast
Premium is perfect for small businesses that need to influence locally. A single location restaurant, for example, doesn’t need elaborately scaled marketing campaigns with a global reach. It needs to host a tasting event, invite local food bloggers and Instagrammers to attend, and ask them to post about their experience. Still no search function here, but between the Opportunity Board and the Event Promotion feature there’s no shortage of ways to connect with the right influencer.
Includes 525 credits, Premium Features, plus access to the Influencer Search Engine
Here we start to get into bigger territory, where a bigger brand start to find influencers they want to work with more precisely. The goal here is for longer term campaigns that include the creation of content and promotion of products and events.
Includes 1,500 credits, Professional Features, plus Twitter Blast Campaigns
Twitter Blast Campaigns are a quick way to get out a timely message to as wide an audience as possible. Brands create their own tweets and make them available to creators to share (only creators with more than 5,000 validated Twitter followers can participate). Every time a creator shares the tweet, the brand pays 12 credits (and on the flip side, the creator gets $10).
You can probably tell just by reading the plan descriptions that Advowire’s got a unique approach to the marketplace idea. The idea behind the low budget Premium plan is an intriguing one: $100 a month should fit into just about any budget, and the lack of search functionality doesn’t necessarily feel like a disadvantage. At this level of service, it’s safe to say subscribers aren’t large marketing departments devoting time to researching brand ambassadors and the like. For smaller companies looking to outsource content creation, they’ve now got an affordable option. Without the search function, their best bet is to use the Advowire’s Opportunity Board to solicit for content pitches. The Event Promotion tool is also a great one to supplement their “In Real Life” marketing efforts.
It’s also in the Premium plan where Advowire’s flaws become magnified. A business’s other option for content is shopping the Marketplace, where creators can try and sell articles and images they’ve already created. If a business were to find something they like and buy it, they’d pay in credits at a price set by the creator, who receives actual money on her end. But no business will buy anything on the Marketplace. At least not as it stands now, with only 55 pieces of content available at the time of this writing—all of which are underwhelming, to put it politely. And scrolling through the Content Stream, essentially a social media news feed of posts by Advowire creators, is too cumbersome an experience. You can filter buy social channel and vertical, but that’s where it ends. The stream is limited to the platform’s “Elite” creators, those who’ve been screened by actual humans at Advowire and meet certain requirements. But going through the stream, there’s no way to tell if you’re looking at a post that’s getting engagement or what kind of a reach its creator has without drilling down into her profile and taking a closer look. Once in the profile, you can glean some valuable insights into their social reach—information that would be right at home in a pop-up overlay from the main page.
Once you’re on the Professional plan, though, it’s easy to overlook these two items. Of course, there’s access to the search function, so you can explicitly find influencers through a combination of criteria. Here you can narrow your results by targeting creators with a specific reach, location, vertical, keyword, and hashtag. There are a handful of demographic data points you can search against, but these apply to the creator and not her audience—the one drawback of Advowire’s search engine. Sure, it’s useful to be able to search for influencers by their age or gender, but ultimately the marketer’s target is an influencer’s audience. The interface for the search (and everything, really) is clean and easy to understand, while the platform makes it simple to organise creators into groups and keep track of all your communications.
The management tools included are geared more toward handling the courtship phase of influencer relationships—there’s not much in the way of campaign management or reporting. You’ll have to rely on the tools and insights you get from each social channel for that. As a marketplace, the goal isn’t really to analyse the performance but to source content—that said, it’s becoming more common for marketplace platforms to include a way to measure at least the basic metrics. The good news here is that Advowire is testing out an update that addresses this, with a planned release in mid to late 2017.
That lack of reporting doesn’t hold true for Twitter Blast Campaigns, though, which is as it should be since you’re essentially paying for shares when you use it. Of course you’re going to want to see what you got for the money. I touched on it briefly in the Pricing section, but it’s worth going into a little more detail here, since it’s a pretty cool feature. On the Influencer side, the program is called Twit-Earn, because it’s a quick and easy way for an influencer to make a little money. Those creators with more than 5,000 validated followers on Twitter will be able to see the list of campaigns looking for shares. They can then elect to share a pre-crafted tweet and receive $10 for the (minimal) effort. To prevent abuse, creators may only share a link once for a particular campaign, and must wait 12 hours before sharing anything from another one. The results of this format are promising.
This is actual reporting from a recent campaign. You can see that in three days, just 10 people shared the tweet, but that resulted in an audience of nearly 800,000 people. These 10 shares garnered 61 total engagements—not a huge number, but it isn’t like brands need to put a lot of work into the content for a Twitter Blast. It’s called a blast for a reason—the action is a quick one-off, meant to be a part of a larger campaign. And bottom line: the brand in this example spent about $111 dollars to reach 800,000 people.
Despite some of its shortcomings, Advowire has too much going for it to ignore. Yes, there are some features (like performance reporting) that plenty of other competitors have. But there are also some features—Twitter Blasts, Event Promotion—that no other competitors have. It’s also the first marketplace I’ve seen that’s figured out a way to let small businesses in on the influencer party. That deserves mention, because anyone can replicate a feature. I’m always more impressed with innovation.
As with all software, this is by no means a finished a product. Updates and improvements are always on their way, with some new features slated for release this month that will further refine the chat and offer/hiring process. With performance reporting in the offing, as well, Advowire’s biggest concern at the moment is getting more talent and brands on to the platform.
That’s sure to happen, too, as they’re breaking their self-imposed strike on marketing Advowire. Following the release of all the new features this month, they’re finally going to give the platform the push it deserves. Whether you’re a brand or a creator, you stand to benefit from Advowire’s offerings—and a marketplace can only succeed if people show up to buy and sell. I’d recommend you stop in and check it out.