Influencer Marketing Platform Breakdown: A Marketer’s Guide to the Galaxy

influencer marketing platforms

As we get underway building out the Reviews section of this website, it occurred to us that there are a lot of influencer marketing platforms out there. And they fill a range of needs, meaning there’s no solution reviewed here that’s going to be appropriate for everyone. Besides, influencer marketing is still kind of new to a lot of you and the idea of these platforms is even newer. You know there’s software out there that can help, but maybe you’re not entirely sure just how they do that.

We thought it would be helpful, then, to categorise and define the different types of software and services available. We’ll explain what they are, who they’re for, and cover any little details we think you should know. Once you understand what your options are, you’ll be able to better focus on which solutions suit you best.


Summary: Quick Jump Menu


First things first, what is an influencer marketing platform?

As we said above, a platform can be any number of things, offering some or all of the following services: influencer search/discovery, influencer relationship management, fee negotiation and payments, campaign management, social listening, audience demographic data, and performance metrics.

Not every business needs every service, but in all cases it’s true that they’re looking for some level of automation to their influencer marketing efforts. It’s also true that if you’re not using some kind of influencer search tool, you’re almost certainly wasting a lot of time finding people to work with.

And so that is where we’ll start.


Influencer Search and Discovery

The alternative to using an influencer search tool is giving up and going home. Really, there’s just no way around it. Google searches for, say, “instagram user with over 10,000 followers mostly female age 18 - 24 in the fashion vertical” is just not going to provide you with helpful results. Spending the day on a social channel researching relevant hashtags and trends while clicking through from user to user until you’ve found someone is actually a better use of time than the Google search.

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With an influencer search tool, though, you’re using something that feels familiar—a search engine interface—but the algorithm under the covers are searching through very specific sets of data. The data that’s searched depends on the type of search tool you’re using. There are two different kinds:

  1. Opt-In Network — Some influencer marketing platforms have their own private network of influencers who’ve signed up to be part of the service. In cases like this, each influencer is vetted thoroughly before being allowed on the service. This allows computers and humans alike to verify that they are legitimate people with real followings, capable of producing quality content. With opt-in networks, you can be confident that your influencers will deliver. The downside is that the pool of available talent you’re searching through is usually on the low side in the tens or low hundreds of thousands. That may sound like a lot, but remember that there are over 600 million daily active users on Instagram alone.
  2. Social Scrapers — These types of search engines function much like Google does, crawling out through the internet looking for data to index. Here, the only thing that’s being crawled is social media traffic: the literally billions of posts that are created every day. Every user, every like, every comment, every image—all of it is recorded, indexed, and stored in a database that users search through to find their perfect match. It’s not uncommon for these databases to offer insights into millions of influencers, and their billions of followers. Like the flipside of the opt-in networks, you’ve got a lot of choice, but no assurance that you’ll be able to recruit, or even contact, someone you’ve found.

Onalytica

Services Offered: Influencer Discovery, Influencer Relationship Management

TapInfluence

Services Offered: Discovery and Management

Hypr

Services Offered: Discovery only

Webfluential

Services Offered: Discovery and Management

Upfluence

Services Offered: Discovery and Management

Julius

Services Offered: Influencer Discovery, Management Tools


Influencer Relationship and/or Campaign Management

These are essentially two sides of the same data, though it wasn’t always that way. These days, when people say IRM, they’re generally referring to the tools that facilitate correspondence with influencers and keep track of the back and forth. Successful campaigns can have you dealing with dozens of different influencers at once, and having a central location to look to know where you stand with each one is vital. And it’s more than communication: you can track what campaign each is involved with, who owes you content, who’s delivered, or who you’re still waiting on to agree to terms. An IRM platform can act as a central repository for all documents associated with each influencer, whether those are drafts of content or legal forms. This is all interchangeable with Campaign Management tools—it’s just a different way of organising the information.

Influencer Marketing Hub

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If you go back to influencer marketing’s early days—all the way back to 5 years ago—IRM had a much different meaning. Before we arrived at the present, where influencers can be hired for one-off promotions and mentions, most of the relationship happened in the public forums of social channels. Because of this, communications with dozens of influencers could happen across all social channels, and managing all these relationships in a cohesive way became a problem that early IRM platforms sought to solve. This kind of relationship management provides a centralised dashboard from which all these different connections could be monitored, responded to, and organised. If you’re researching influencer marketing platforms, and haven’t already addressed this issue of how you can sustain your connections with influencers, you’ll want to make sure any platform you buy into provides these centralised feeds and social listening.

Onalytica

Services Offered: Influencer Discovery, Influencer Relationship Management

Revfluence

Services Offered: Influencer Marketplace, Campaign and Influencer Management Tools

TapInfluence

Services Offered: Discovery and Management

Webfluential

Services Offered: Discovery and Management

Upfluence

Services Offered: Discovery and Management

Revfluence

Services Offered: Influencer Marketplace, Campaign and Influencer Management Tools

Julius

Services Offered: Influencer Discovery, Management Tools


Influencer Marketplace

A marketplace generally merges the search capability (with an opt-in network) with influencer management and adds payment functionality, as well. The company behind the platform will usually provide standard contracts, terms, and other compliance documents to the mix, and take upfront payments that are held in escrow. When an influencer delivers and the client is satisfied, funds are released. Though not a hard rule, it’s customary for the clients to pay any fees to the company, not the influencer.

With any Influencer Marketplace, you’re going to get some basic level of campaign/influencer management. The proliferation of these marketplaces in recent years is primarily responsible for the shift in language that’s redefined Influencer Relationship Management. These marketplaces are the perfect place to score quick hits with a wide reach, and within that pay-for-play environment is the need to manage these transacted relationships.

Management tools in this context exist to centralise all communications with all your influencers. Some extras that certain marketplaces offer—and which you really shouldn’t do without—include a repository of legal documents (especially around FTC compliance), collaboration tools for annotating and revising content, and scheduling publication.

Revfluence

Services Offered: Influencer Marketplace, Campaign and Influencer Management Tools


Full Service Agency

Some influencer marketing platforms are built on the technology listed above, but the company also acts as their customers marketing consultant. They’ll use search and management tools collaboratively with their clients, but they’ll generally take the lead in designing and executing the influencer campaigns. That means from influencer identification, to successful influencer recruitment, fee negotiation, content planning and scheduling, to post-campaign reporting—it’s a full service marketing agency built on modern technology.

The level to which any agency engages in its clients’ marketing activities varies from one company to the next, and from one contract to the next. In all cases, you should expect that part of the package includes access to their in-house influencer discovery platform, as well as all the data that’s going on underneath. Even when you know you’ll be working with a full service agency, a great deal of what they should be judged on is the data they’re using. A company with greater insights into the audience and its engagement will have the ability spend its customers’ marketing budgets with great precision.

Influencer Marketing Hub

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Marketing ROI

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