During an interview with DotCom magazine a few years ago, Jamie Reardon—Find Your Influence’s CEO and co-founder—was asked to describe what it takes to succeed in three words or less. The answer she gave—drive, positivity, hard-work—was four words, but by using the hyphen in between “hard” and “work,” Reardon stayed true to the question. And, in doing so, she inadvertently gave a different answer in the subtext: creative solutions.
Her answer was, essentially, the entrepreneurial spirit, represented by three (or four) words: there is a task at hand, and there is no suitable tool or method available to complete that task. Most people, having exhausted their options, would either give up or change course. The entrepreneur forges ahead and creates something entirely new to meet the challenge.
And this is the origin story of Find Your Influence—aka FYI. Back in 2013, Reardon and her co-founder Cristine Viera, both well known and highly regarded in marketing circles, found themselves in need of better software to manage these new types of digital campaigns they’d been running for their jobs at Norton LifeLock. There was just no mechanism for finding or managing ad campaigns where the chief assets were the creatives themselves, not the creations. At least not one that was both mature and affordable.
Not to be dissuaded, Reardon and Viera set out to create their own solution—and company. They started Find Your Influence with little more than a need for an elegant influencer marketing solution and the desire to create it. Nine years and 1,200 clients later, it’s safe to say that they succeeded at their task. And the reason can probably be summed up in one word: hard-work.
FYI was designed with the idea that businesses of all sizes could benefit from influencer marketing, and so they created a tiered approach to appeal to a wide range of potential customers. At the low end, though, there’s very limited practical use. It’s at the mid-range plan where customers will see the appeal.
- Exchange, $199/month — With this plan, you’ll see real time analytics and be able to offer products to influencers. Essentially, this is a way to do campaigns where influencers only get paid in product, and this facilitates doing that at scale.
- Essentials, $800/month — Both of the above features, plus: influencer search, influencer survey features, content approval features, dedicated account support.
- Professional, $1,500/month — All of the above, plus: unlimited campaigns and influencer discovery
- Agency, $Custom/month — All of the above, plus unlimited users.
You’ll note that the Professional plan offers unlimited campaigns, which begs the question of how many campaigns you’re limited to on the Exchange and Essentials plan. And you’ll note that the Agency plan allows for unlimited users, which begs the question of what the limit is for the others.
If you noticed in the pricing plans that Essentials gives you influencer search, while Professional gives you Search and Discovery, you may be wondering what the difference is. We tend to use these terms interchangeably, but within FYI there is a difference. When you search, you’re looking through a pool of talent that’s opted in to the platform: they’ve connected their social accounts and authorized the platform to analyze and report on all their data. With Discovery, you’re casting a wider net, looking for influencers who aren’t yet on the platform but who’s public data has been scraped and indexed into FYI’s database. When you discover an influencer this way, they’ll need to create an account on the platform in order to participate in any campaigns.
For influencers who’ve already opted in, inviting them to collaborate with you is easy. Directly from the search module, you can select one or more influencers that you’re interested in working with and simply click on the “Make Offer” button. There are two standout features of the way FYI has you make offers. First, there’s a list of every type of content you can create for the channels that FYI supports. You just have to go down the list and quantify how many of each content type you want—for example, you might want 2 Instagram stories, 1 Facebook Story, 1 blog post, and a single tweet. You just enter the numbers for what you want and zero for the rest. You’ll actually do this when you create a campaign, and then when you make an offer here you specify which campaign you’re inviting them to. The list of deliverables comes from that defined bundle of deliverables in the campaign, and FYI will calculate and suggest how much you should offer each influencer. This rate is individualized based on an influencer’s past performance/value. You can always override the suggested rate, but it’s good to have a starting point.
Of course, before you can start making offers you have to actually find the influencers, and FYI offers excellent tools for doing so. There’s the standard search of keywords and topics, and then a number of filters you can apply to refine the results. Even better is the ability to find lookalike influencers, so if someone you want to work with is unavailable, or you can’t agree on terms, you can always find influencers who pass the same vibe checks, as far as their content is concerned. This means they’re putting out similar content and that it generally performs at the same level. There might be similarities in the audience members, too, but since FYI doesn’t really get into audience psychographics, those similarities are of questionable value. We’ve historically been pretty adamant that demographics are a poor way to segment your audience—age and gender don’t really tell you about a person. Still, the lookalike feature is still a fine shortcut to finding similar talent, and what’s great is that you can refine your list of lookalikes. This way, you’re not stuck with generic carbon copies. You can search a lookalike but restrict results to certain geographic areas, for example.
Another way to find influencers to work with—and a pretty unique feature to FYI—is the survey tool. Using the tool, you can create a survey with the kinds of questions you’d have for people applying to collaborate on a campaign. These could be questions of brand safety, influencer preferences, ideological concerns, interest in favorite colors—any question, really, that’s pertinent to what you’re trying to achieve but isn’t answered by doing a regular search. Surveys are then broadcast out to a cross-section of FYI’s in-network influencers, and the answers are presented to you as an aggregate and individually. As you’re looking at each influencer's answers, you may find someone who looks like a good fit—you can then go ahead and make an offer just as you can through the search tool.
Campaign creation works a lot like you’d expect it to, where you create a brief describing the campaign and define the deliverables (i.e. the content that you want the influencer to make). FYI also allows for campaigns that pay in product, or a mix of cash and product. From a high level, the platform performs all the functions you’d need to create and execute on a campaign. When you get into the details and nitty gritty of a campaign, though, there's much more to find.
We can always tell when career marketers are involved in the creation of software, because their campaign modules tend to go much deeper than simply listing influencers and the content they’ve contracted to create. The word “contract” is doing a lot of the heavy lifting in that last sentence, but it’s a notion that many influencer marketing platforms overlook: you’ve entered into a contract with this person, and you need to have ways to protect your investment. FYI facilitates this through its boilerplate terms and conditions, but also allows brands to customize sections that spell out the specifics of usage rights of the content and exclusivity with the influencers themselves. This is where the experience of its creators really shines: a developer creating a platform like this will make sure to hit all the expected features, because their past experience is with other software. A marketer creating the same platform will add in all the details to make sure they don’t get screwed, because their experience is with actual influencers.
Those little details extend beyond legal protections and contracts, though. FYI is full of little touches that increase the appeal of its campaign module. Natively and automatically creating tracking links as part of the campaign is a huge plus, but maybe not so uncommon. But then there are small things that make big differences. Instead of typing a campaign brief, you can upload one that you’d already created. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but campaigns are conceived well before you’re creating the brief in planning software, and this eliminates an unnecessary redundancy. You can also get very precise with what kind of negotiations you allow with influencers. Maybe their compensation isn’t up for debate; you can disable their ability to make a counteroffer. Or maybe you’re OK with negotiating the price, but not the scope of work. Or perhaps your price is firm, but you’re open to trying out different channels. FYI lets you specify these things up front, and saves you the time from having to deal with unwanted hassles in the future.
Once campaigns are live, you can start viewing the reporting on its performance. Again, this module looks like it was created by people who are actual marketers. The campaign summary includes the brief, a listing of all the content types, real-time tallies of impressions, and the CPM, CPC, and overall media value of the campaign. You can get deeper insights into these numbers and more in the analytics section—but not too much deeper. The analytics is 100% focused on what the content was and how it performed. There’s no looking into the audience—not even those you reached, much less those who engaged with you—and this is the biggest hole in the software.
But another nice touch is that when you dive into the performance of individual influencers, you can click on their names to bring up their profiles—the same one you saw when you searched and found them. The profile slides its way onto the screen over the campaign summary, and disappears with a click, so you’re not losing your place. The value of this is that each profile includes lookalike influencers. If you’ve worked with someone who really delivered, it’s two clicks to get to the profile of someone who can offer a similar performance. This kind of circular workflow is one that we really like, where all the steps you’ve taken to get to the end of a campaign yield results that become the building blocks of the next campaign. That’s a huge clue you’re looking at some very well made software.
Sometimes we see platforms that are dreadful, and we don’t even bother writing them up for you here. Sometimes we see attempts at trying something completely new, and they’re clever ideas, and we get excited and focus on that for the review. We’ve also seen platforms that do a couple things really well, but the rest of it is unexciting or even poorly done, and our disappointment in those failures is often palpable in the write up. And then, sometimes—not often—we see a platform that’s not looking to redefine or innovate anything but instead aims to be just really good at what it does.
FYI belongs in that last category. We haven’t seen anything in it that we haven’t before, and yet it still occupies that rare space of software that just gets it right. Yes, we’d love to see more detail in the campaign analytics, especially a way to understand the audience you reached. That kind of information can’t change the past but does set you up for the future. Outside of this flaw, though, there’s nothing else we can really criticize about FYI. And that means we’ve found a lot to like in this platform, and we’re confident that you will, too.