With brands of all sizes exploring influencer marketing as a way to seed authentic, searchable content that drives purchase over time, one of the first decisions is whether to manage it in-house or through a network or agency. We’ve discussed the benefits of using an influencer marketing agency, but the decision doesn’t end there.
When it comes to selecting a partner for influencer marketing efforts, brands are faced with the prospect of evaluating dozens of organizations: large influencer marketplaces, boutique networks, blogger-run collectives and numerous other operations. As a social media marketing agency that has pioneered and executed hundreds of award-winning influencer marketing campaigns, The Motherhood understands the unique benefits of engaging a boutique agency.
High-Tech vs. High-Touch
Many large influencer networks tout their marketplace of tens of thousands of influencers who are available to brands at the click of a mouse. Campaigns are run through slick-looking automated dashboards.
While on the surface a high degree of hands-off automation may seem like a benefit, the reality is that a high-tech approach will fall flat without a high-touch element, for a number of reasons.
Blogger Vetting Requires a Human Touch
We know that 75 percent of professionals consider identifying the right influencers to be the biggest challenge of a sponsored content campaign. Reviewing thousands of prospective influencers within a database — even after extensive filtering, sorting and filing — doesn’t take into account the very necessary human element to the selection process.
The Motherhood takes a personal, detailed approach to blogger vetting, considering things like:
- past, present or future relationships with competitors
- responsiveness of an individual influencer (critical for quick-turnaround campaigns)
- strengths or talents on certain platforms (performance goes beyond numbers)
- existing affinity for the brand
- other special circumstances that aren’t able to be captured in a database (For example, if a blogger’s child was just diagnosed with lactose intolerance, that may exclude her from a dairy campaign; or if a blogger just announced a pregnancy, that could impact a recommendation for an OTC product campaign)
Additionally, we often recommend an up-and-coming blogger who loves the brand we’re vetting for and who has proven to deliver gorgeous content. While those types of influencers are often overlooked or overshadowed in a large database, the boutique agency approach allows us to present some true rising stars in the blogosphere who will generate significant conversion for the brand.
With The Motherhood campaigns, brands always have the opportunity to review a large selection of influencers and select their top choices for their campaign. The difference is that a boutique agency offers tremendous efficiency by delivering a carefully curated list of influencers who are excellent fits for the individual campaign and brand, taking into account many intangibles that a dashboard can’t. Working with a boutique agency to identify bloggers is like receiving a beautifully packaged gift selected just for you.
With Automation Comes Risk
Large networks often promote automation as a way to achieve scale. While that can sound attractive to busy marketers, we’ve observed within the industry at large more than a few scenarios in which automation caused (or could have caused) detriment to the brand. Consider the following:
- An influencer marketplace employed an automated system in which it would identify high-performing blogger content and launch an amplification campaign. However, the content the system identified as a top post included the wrong campaign hashtag and inaccurate campaign messaging, which was not caught until days later. The result? Many, many hours of re-work from the account team, leading to lost momentum and an over-budget campaign.
- On the flip side, a large team of influencers was working to publish content according to a very specific, immoveable deadline. However, just before the content was to go live, the brand’s landing page was inexplicably removed, resulting in a broken link. The Motherhood’s dedicated account team identified this in a way that an automated dashboard could not. By flagging the issue to the client and obtaining a tracking link to a new landing page within the hour, all coverage was still published on deadline without any of the re-work that would have been required if the dead link had made it into 75 blog posts and several hundred social media posts.
Better Engagement — But Not in the Way You Think
The debate on why engagement matters is alive and well, but we’re talking about a different kind of engagement. In this instance, the engagement we’re referring to relates to how invested an influencer is in a brand’s campaign, which we know to be much more easily and genuinely achieved with a boutique agency.
In any given influencer marketing campaign, there are dozens of touch points with prospective and confirmed bloggers. The journey could include any or all of the following:
- The initial program ask
- One or more rounds of negotiation
- Contract signature or request for tax-related documents
- Briefing the participants on the messaging, theme and approach
- Copy review and approval
- Coverage monitoring and reminders
- Follow-up to request corrections
- Results collection and reporting
- Post-program wrap-up
With a boutique agency, influencers also receive on-call access to senior account directors who can answer their questions and provide quick-turnaround insights that help them deliver accurate, timely and creative content.
At The Motherhood, we view influencer marketing as a very human, very personal discipline. Each communications touch point is an opportunity — person to person, not person to dashboard — to endear an influencer to your brand and generate long-term affinity. By creating a human connection and putting a face behind the network and the brand, the influencer knows they are heard, valued and appreciated. We know this to be a powerful incentivize to bring their best selves and to produce high-quality content that moves the needle.
The Motherhood: A Boutique Agency Achieving Big Things
The Motherhood is the gold standard in influencer marketing, founded and run by seasoned PR professionals who, for more than a decade, have consistently produced exceptional, award-winning online content. We’ve been named the PR News Social Media Team of the Year, AMA Marketer of the Year, PRSA Agency of the Year and Best in Show and one of Pittsburgh’s fastest-growing marketing agencies. We’re also one of Pittsburgh’s coolest offices to boot!
To discuss ways our boutique agency can deliver value and impact for your influencer marketing campaigns, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.