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5 Key Questions to Ask When Choosing an Influencer Marketing Platform

Nov 22, 2016

Influencer marketing is one of the most rapidly growing fields in marketing for good reason: 90% of buyers trust peer-based recommendations. As social media occupies an increasingly large share of our lives, understanding how to harness the power of some of the most influential voices on social gives your brand a new and compelling way to reach people in ways that matter to them.

But as with any promising new field and just about every brand eager to engage “their influencers”, there's a gold rush taking place among providers for influencer marketing platforms. In such a nascent field, determining which platforms are the real deal and which are just fool’s gold can be tricky.

That's why we've created a list of key questions to ask yourself when choosing an influencer marketing platform, things that can give you the confidence that you've chosen a partner with genuine industry expertise.

But hey, don't let us influence you; take a look for yourself:

5 Key Questions to Ask When Choosing an Influencer Marketing Platform

Are Your Influencers More Than Just Social Media Handles?

We all have different faces we put on in different situations. Are you the same person at work as you are at home in your pajamas? Better yet, are you even the same person at work as you are at a work happy hour? Probably not, and no one would expect you to be. You likely even have different personas across your various online “faces,” from Twitter to Instagram to your business emails. The very same thing goes for influencers.

An influencer, like yourself, your mother, or your dog-walker, is more than just a Twitter handle. They are a person that lives across the web, with the same changing, adapting demands shaping their “face” on each platform, as well.  An influencer's personality may be buttoned-down and authoritative on one, but much more cheeky and playful on another. You need access to all of these faces side-by-side so you can more accurately gain the critical insight needed to develop a successful relationship with them. While it's good to “know thy enemy,” it's absolutely crucial to know thy influencer.

Even more immediately, having a 360° view makes sure that you don't miss any partnership opportunities with an influencer because you were unaware of their interest in a particular field. Jane Q. Influencer may be heavily involved in auto-racing on one platform, but you may not realize that she is also involved in automotive safety on another. These paired interests make sense when you see the whole of her online personality, but you could not have necessarily deduced one from the other. You would have missed that opportunity to engage.

The world isn't flat, and neither should your influencer marketing platform be. A well-rounded view has always been useful for navigation, and influencer marketing is no different. It's important to have a partner that understands the value of each social media platform.

When You Hear “Influencer Marketing” Do you Think of “Paid Endorsement?”

If yes, then you’re not looking for an influencer marketing platform. You’re looking for an easy way to find people to talk about your brand. If you’re looking for long-term success in influencer marketing, then you need to think about relationships over transactions. And that means moving beyond just finding your influencers.

The importance of management alongside discovery is a major factor in choosing the best solution. Discovering new influencers is important, but only insofar as it enables new, mutually beneficial relationships to be created, which require proper management to capitalize on. After all, your end goal is to build a relationship with an influencer to invite them to learn, share, and expound your brand.

The right influencer marketing strategy should not be merely transactional, as that creates little sustained incentive for your influencer. Choosing a solution with influencer relationship management capacities enables you to build and nurture a relationship with an influencer, one that multiplies the impact of your efforts by creating an ongoing partnership.

A solution that understands the importance of influencer relationship management, and not just influencer discovery, indicates a partner with genuine industry expertise and familiarity.

Can You Measure Influencer-Specific Metrics and KPIs?

A mechanic who walks around your car once and pronounces, “Yep, it's broken,” is not much of a mechanic at all. You need specifics to fix what isn't working. The same goes for choosing an influencer marketing platform. To be truly actionable, your insights must be on the micro level, literally influencer-by-influencer.  Why? Consider that in the average community, less than 2% of members actively participate, but their voices shape the thoughts, buying patterns and industry views that shape markets.

Some influencer marketing platforms limit the scale and zoom of their analytics to the campaign level. They can measure KPIs at a macro scale, but KPIs are so-named because they are key indicators of performance, and at such a zoomed out level, they cease to be usefully insightful or keenly indicative. A strong influencer strategy requires the ability to both predict and respond to trends and performance at both the macro (campaign and program level) and micro level of an individual influencer relationship; a platform that can do neither can really do nothing.

A top-flight influencer marketing platform and influencer relationship management platform should enable you to measure your brand's share-of-voice per influencer, the content shared by influencers, and their reach and impressions received across all social platforms. Then, and only then, can you truly fine-tune your influencer strategy, and make the small-scale corrections that create a large-scale impact on your KPIs and broader business goals.

Micro insights lead to macro results.

Tell the Whole Story: Who is Influencing Your Influencers?

Algorithms make life simpler, don't they? Those magical strings of code and mathematics that supposedly make influencer marketing such a predictable and exact science are all we need, right? Of course not, and the reason is fairly simple.

Algorithms are fabulous tools for influencer discovery, and any respectable influencer marketing platform should have powerful ones. But they don't tell the whole story, and should be just one aspect of the influencer relationship management solution you choose. Algorithms give you an extremely high-level view of an influencer's impact and presence, while the subjective subtleties that are so important on a micro scale slip through the cracks. There may well be influencers that could have a large impact on your brand – indeed, ones you may even already be aware of – that purely algorithmic discovery misses.

Algorithmic discovery is a bulldozer, digging through massive quantities of data to return as much potentially useful information as possible. Influencer analysis is the gold panner's sieve, sifting through the results with an expert's eye to identify and isolate the most valuable bits. Further, a good influencer marketing platform should give you specific fields, topics, and niches to expand upon and explore. Whether single-platform influence, single-niche influence, or demographic influence, you should choose a solution that can produce highly focused results as well as well-rounded results.

Do you Have Access to Expertise That Goes Beyond Simple Training?

At the heart of influencer marketing is, well, “influencers”—passionate human beings with all of the emotional energy that makes us all human.  Building relationships that serve to touch, move and inspire one another to action takes a blend of psychology, the art of decorum and software to help drive scalability.

Your technology is only as good as the expertise of the partner behind it. You need a partner that truly understands influencer marketing. You want someone who teaches not just how to engage with influencers, but how to think about engaging with influencers. A good partner should work with you from the bottom up, offering advice and best-practices on things like: how to structure your marketing organization, how to build lasting relationships, how to accurately measure success, and how to continue to grow. This knowledge and expertise, this industry insight, is as important if not more important than simply how powerful their software is.

You don't need a partner that's going to toss you the keys and say, “Good luck.” You want a strategic enabler of success, one who not only knows what they're doing, but can make sure you do, too. It's the best, sure-fire way to guarantee you maximize your organization’s ROI in an influencer marketing platform.

At its core, the decision about which influencer marketing and influencer relationship management solution to choose is a strategic, long-term one. By answering these key questions you can position your organization for influencer marketing success today, tomorrow, and for many campaigns to come.

Get the RFP Template

To help you start this process, we’ve put together an RFP template that can be used for evaluating influencer marketing technology. The RFP template includes a comprehensive list of influencer marketing technology capabilities.