What is talent management? In human resources, talent management is the strategic process of bringing the right talent on and helping them grow. This process isn't much different when it comes to talent management for influencers and content creators. For influencers and creators, though, talent management involves pairing the right talent with the brands and opportunities that are going to help them grow. This process involves identifying high-performing influencers, helping them understand the opportunities presented to them and choose the best ones, sometimes helping them further develop their skills, and motivating them to achieve their long-term goals.
In this article, we'll share more about what talent management is, its cost, and how influencers and brands can best work with agencies. We'll wrap with an example of a talent management strategy so influencers and brands can know what to expect when working with them.
What Is Talent Management (and What to Watch Out For!):
What Is Talent Management?
Talent management is, in influencer marketing terms, a team of people whose job is to connect influencers with the brands who need them. They handle contract negotiations, public relations, and more. It's nothing new, celebrities have, for years, had teams of people around them, running errands, doing hair and makeup, and any number of things the talent may need. Most influencers probably won't get the treatment of B- or even C-list celebrities, but that doesn't mean that talent management isn't valuable.
The Cost of Influencer Talent Management
There are, of course, costs associated with talent management, and those costs impact both the influencer and the brands who engage them. The primary goal for talent managers is to make sure that they get influencers the best rate possible. It's not altruistic—the better the rate the talent manager gets for the influencer, the more commission they're likely to earn on the arrangement. This is a balancing act since brands are also interested in getting the best rates for their own budgets.
So, what are the costs associated with talent management? They tend to fall into two buckets:
If influencers are going to need to create exclusive content for the brands they're representing, that's going to cost money. Things like travel, outfits, and video production add up fast.
Distribution fees are the cost of your sponsored content. This can vary widely depending on the niche or industry, demographics, engagement, follower counts, and more.
Here's a general estimate of influencer costs from Later:
For an in-depth look at the costs of influencer marketing, check out our influencer rate guide.
What Influencers Need to Know Before Signing with Talent Management
The relationship between talent management and the influencers they represent should be mutually beneficial. While having representation can get influencers in front of more brands than they may be able to approach on their own, it's the talent that influencers bring to the table that makes them valuable in the first place. So, talent management opens doors for influencers, helping them make better decisions based on the opportunities available to them and influencers create content that brands are willing to pay for. If you're an influencer who needs advice about what campaigns you should take, want to make connections with larger brands, or need help negotiating, talent management is worth a look.
As an influencer, here are a few things to consider before signing on with talent management according to the experts:
Ask Yourself the Hard Questions
Are you ready for a manager? If you're not already a full-time influencer or content creator, probably not. If you're working all the time and accept all the campaigns that come your way because you don't know how to choose between them (or if you should), you'll likely benefit from a manager to help you weigh the pros and cons of your offers and provide guidance about the ones you should take.
Ask THEM the Hard Questions
Don't just sign up for the first talent management agency you find in your Google search. Ask them questions about their business and their process. What's their response time for communications with you? With brands? Are they willing to keep you in the loop on the "how" of what they do instead of just dictating to you what to do?
Check Out Their Online Presence
What are people saying about this talent management agency? What does their website look like? Is it professional? Do they have a social media presence with an engaged audience?
Don't Pay to Play
Do not pay a talent management agency a deposit to start doing work with them and it's probably a good idea to stay away from cash apps for payments (platforms like CashApp, Venmo, Zelle, PayPal, etc). In fact, it's recommended that influencers get banking information from the talent management agency so they can pursue legal action should they not get paid.
Stay Away from Mass Outreach
It's not likely that you're going to have a legitimate talent management agency reach out to you via bulk email. So, if you get an email that seems to be a form email that isn't personalized to your specific experience and online presence, don't engage.
Request References and Case Studies
Talent management agencies should be able to readily produce case studies and references for you before you sign up with them. While you should absolutely follow up with the references they provide, it's also a good practice to reach out to other influencers they've worked with (agencies typically have a list of influencers included on their websites, but you can always ask for one).
What Brands Need to Know About Talent Management
Like influencers, there are a few things brands will want to consider before working with a talent management team.
Check Their Work
Before hiring a talent management agency, check out some recent campaign examples produced by their influencers. You'll want to make sure that they have influencers capable of producing high-quality content of the type that you need. This will help you find the right talent management agency with the right roster of influencers to meet your goals.
Have a Plan and Budget
Before you approach talent managers, create a budget and a creative brief. Remember, talent managers are supposed to have the creators' interests in mind and present them campaign opportunities that will meet their needs. Keep in mind that influencer rates can vary widely and be ready to have a transparent discussion about how much you have to invest, what you need, and what's negotiable.
Look for Flexibility
If you're planning on growing your brand, you'll probably find your influencer marketing needs escalating. Ask the agency if they can scale their services as your needs change. If they can't, that's not a reason to walk away. You just want to know that you may need to find a new talent management agency if your needs change.
Don't Be Afraid to Walk Away
If you're not getting a good vibe from a talent agent, walk away. There are tons of talent management agencies to choose from, so there's no point in working with one that isn't right for you.
Talent Management Strategy
All talent management agencies should have a strong strategy that they can demonstrate and articulate to potential influencers and brands. Here are the main talent management tactics that make up a powerful strategy.
Creative briefs are essentially job descriptions for marketers. When brands come prepared with a detailed creative brief, talent managers are better equipped to find the right influencer for the role. Generic creative briefs just create opportunities for disappointment. Talent management will ensure that creative briefs answer these questions:
- Why are we doing this campaign? This is the brand's objective and represents what they hope to accomplish with the campaign.
- What is the problem we're trying to solve or the opportunity we're trying to leverage? This moves beyond the question of why you're doing a campaign and answers "why now?"
- Who is it for and why should they care? This lets you know the target audience for this campaign and should include information about the demographic or segment that will help with identifying the best influencer for the campaign.
- What's the scope of the work? This lets influencers know what brands, logos, taglines, etc. need to be included in the content and the type of content needed (eBooks, videos, sponsored Instagram posts, branded TikToks, etc.) Influencers will also need to know the core concepts the brand wants to convey and how the brand wants to come across to the audience, as well as covering the timeline and budget.
- How will we measure success? This section of the creative brief will cover how results are to be measured and what the brand considers to be a successful campaign.
Talent managers won't just help influencers choose the right campaigns to accept based on skills, but they'll also ensure that the brand itself is a good fit. If the brand and influencer don't work well together it won't benefit anyone.
Talent management agencies will also sometimes offer coaching and feedback to influencers wanting it. This helps develop the influencer, growing their skills, and preparing them for what's coming.
Incentive programs are vital to motivate, engage, and manage influencers. People love being recognized for wins, after all. Also, you don't have to limit yourself to monetary incentives. Studies have found that incentive and bonus programs are most motivating when the incentives take employee and influencer wants into consideration. So, learn what motivates your influencers and reward them with those things.
Part of talent management involves investing in the influencers they bring onto their team. This means offering support, training, and ongoing development opportunities to keep your influencers motivated and their skills improving.
6 Leading Talent Management Agencies
While there's no way we can cover all the talent management agencies out there, here are a few of the top names in 2021.
1. Viral Nation
Viral Nation is an influencer marketing agency that acts as a talent agency for high-quality influencers. They represent social media's top creators across social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. They offer influencers brand endorsements, representation, and legal services.
Shine Talent Group is a global talent management agency that vets social media influencers so they present brands with the top talent for their campaigns. They represent both inbound and outbound deals for some of North America's top social influencers and regularly identify new talent through networking, direct outreach, and casting trips.
Shade is a talent agency that represents the top black and brown creators. They offer two ways for influencers to work with them. First, influencers will start with representation where Shade will pitch them new opportunities and help them negotiate incoming offers. As a creator's influencer grows, Shade's digital management might step in to help them level up.
Pulse Talent Management is a collective of some of the most popular social media influencers worldwide. The agency specializes in exclusive influencer management, providing content creators with a platform to move forward in their careers. Pulse's management team uses a 360º approach including strategic guidance, product co-creation, short- and long-term brand partnerships facilitation, and more.
INF Influencer Agency casts and manages the talent in online campaigns and collaborations, helping brands share targeted marketing messages through the top influencers. They exclusively manage a roster of top influencers in the beauty, fashion, home, lifestyle, wellness, parenting, and travel niches.
Central Entertainment Group has become a leading agency for reality television and social media. CEG helps brands pair with relevant influencers for social media partnerships, photoshoots, personal appearances, and even custom celebrity product lines.
Influencers and Talent Managers: A Mutually Beneficial Arrangement
As brands and influencers collaborate more and more often, talent managers will become increasingly important. That doesn't mean you absolutely must have a talent manager as an influencer, but you might find yourself in a much better position to reach more brands and get paid the influencer rates you deserve.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can you explain talent management in simple terms?
Talent management is the strategic process of bringing the right talent on and helping them grow. It involves attracting and retaining high-quality employees, then developing their skills and motivating the talent to improve their performance. This process isn't much different when it comes to talent management for influencers and content creators. The big purpose of talent management is creating a highly motivated workforce that will stay with the company the whole time.
What are some of the most important parts of talent management?
Talent management has several important pillars in order to implement a successful strategy. All talent management agencies should have a strong strategy. That includes strategic employee planning, acquisition and retention, managing performance, motivating your talent, accurately compensating your talent, developing careers, and succession planning.
How do talent management companies work?
Talent management companies focus on bringing the right talent on and helping them grow. The companies will recruit, hire, retain, and grow talented employees in the job market using talent management strategies. The term will generally describe how firms work to retain their employees. Talent management is, in influencer marketing terms, a team of people whose job is to connect influencers with the brands who need them.
How do you describe a talent management process?
When it comes to corporate companies, talent management is the strategic process of bringing the right talent on and helping them grow and learn. This process isn't much different when it comes to talent management for influencers and content creators. This process involves identifying high-performing influencers, helping them understand the opportunities presented to them and choose the best ones, sometimes helping them further develop their skills, and motivating them to achieve their long-term goals.
What are some of the different talent management tools?
To implement a successful talent management strategy, you need the right tools. Talent management tools include planning, recruiting, planning, goal aligning, executive coaching and upskilling, development of leadership, employee engagement, and more. Some companies will use programs and tools to help management talent and help them grow.