For many of us, influencer marketing has become something of a ‘love affair’. Fair enough, it’s been knocking around for some time now but the rise of celebrity influencers has brought the industry to the general populous and even invaded the c-suite.
The community that has arisen off the back of the work we do only serve to expand the remit and open new opportunities and career change for those in marketing looking to do something more exciting than the traditional efforts.
In this series, I ask various influencer marketing industry leaders for their insights on how influencer marketing should be done. They try their best to answer many of the burning questions that have been asked and answer them from a practical standpoint.
This time, I find out whether the experts think an in-house team or agency can fully run an influencer program at scale, and if you can truly automate an influencer program?
In-house or agency – who can run a program best?
“I believe agency. Although in-house teams are crucial to develop a good campaign as they need knowledge on influencers to approve the right people and content,” thought Natalia Cortázar, influencer marketing manager at Procure Worldwide.
“In-house bring the industry and customer knowledge, the agency brings the strategic expertise and tools, so, the best campaigns are run when in-house and agencies work together,” commented Owain Williams, founder of Make it Mana.
“The best – frankly saying – is for the brands to work directly with the influencer because if not, the influencer isn’t likely to really understand and share the brand story,” said NG aka DearMishuDad, influencer marketing blogger, speaker, and teacher.
“All programs should be led from in-house with agencies providing support. Outsourcing your influencer program to others is bad business and means the knowledge of how to properly do it, to build relationships with influencers resides with the agency. Therefore, the brand surrenders the power they should have to outside players. Would a brand outsource all of its legal counsel, PR or other marketing? Some might do that, but I’ll bet most don’t. Influencer marketing is no different,” added Tom Augenthaler, influencer marketing consultant.
“From my experience, an agency. The specific function of an influencer marketing agency is to provide expertise and run influencer marketing programs and campaigns. They have the processes in place to operate a campaign with no distractions whereas an in-house marketing team also focuses on all the other aspects of digital and traditional marketing,” said Suhit Amin, founder of Saulderson Media.
“In-house teams are very, very capable, but a lot of brands don’t have a dedicated influencer team to deal with this. It’s often social, PR, or marketing etc rather than having a dedicated discipline to work on influencers full time. Agencies come with specialist knowledge and often have access to very expensive software that many brands won’t allocate the funds to. This certainly gives the agencies the advantage as it’s what they do all day every day. I’d side with the agencies on this one. But, as a caveat I would say that an in-house team with a dedicated influencer specialism will have a closer relationship and get better long-term results than an agency would,” commented Mark Dandy, B2C marketing specialist and co-founder at Bee Influence.
Secondly, can you truly automate an influencer program?
“No. We’re humans and so are they, so the relationship should always be within people. There has to be a story behind it,” commented Cortázar.
“Influencer advertising? Yes, probably. Influencer marketing? No, definitely,” said Williams.
“No, nor should you want to. Influencer marketing is about working with people, not bots. You take the human-ness out of the equation and you’re back to traditional advertising,” added Augenthaler.
“You can try, but it will not be as effective as having a human touch. Working with influencers is almost as close as you can get to the marketing equivalent of recruitment. Can you automate recruitment? You can start off the process by vetting everyone who doesn’t meet criteria, didn’t pass a test, didn’t meet a standard etc, but eventually, you’re going to have to interview someone to see if they are right for you. Brands that don’t do this are often careless in their approach and don’t get the results they are looking for,” said Dandy.
“No. One thing I believe strongly is that for an influencer marketing campaign or program to work there has to be a deal of human to human communication, with the best performance being on a personal level. Influencer marketing requires empathy and being able to connect and deal with influencers in a much more personal manner. It is necessary to have calls and direct message conversations to really allow the influencers to understand the campaign and help with any queries or questions. They need to be guided and human interaction is best for this,” concluded Amin.
Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below or reaching out on socials.