Bridging the Gap: No More Pitching to Influencers for Social Media Advertising?

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For entrepreneurs in every industry, social media has completely changed the way we think about marketing and advertising to the latest generation of consumers. As 2018 is coming to a close, being active in social media is a no-brainer at this point. However, with the increase in social media marketing, another marketing tactic is on the rise with it, influencers.

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Influencers on social media, especially visually-driven social media websites like YouTube and Instagram are rapidly on the rise. A recent survey from eMarketer found that 84% of marketers said they intended on launching at least one influencer campaign within the next twelve months.

Over the past five years, more businesses and individuals are searching for information about “influencer marketing,” yet the way businesses interact with influencers is still inefficient and drives up the cost of advertising in both terms of money and time.



The Current State of Affairs

As it stands now, the most common ways for businesses to get in contact with influencers is to either reach out to them directly and pitch via cold emails and direct messages (DMs) or to go through an agency representing social media influencers.

While cold calling can eventually be an effective option, it requires the most amount of time from marketers to call and research. Businesses are required to spend excess time contacting a variety of influencers in their particular niche and have limited knowledge about the quantitative results of different influencers before hand. This inefficiency leads to loss of valuable time from marketing teams handling a new product or service launch— time that can’t be brought back.

For marketers opting to go the agency route, the pain points don’t go away, they’re simply different. When working with agencies, the fees associated with the marketing campaign are invariably going to be higher than directly connecting with an influencer as you’re introducing a new third-party to the arrangement.

Regardless of what option brand marketers decide on, there’s one problem that remains at the center of the industry and that’s finding the right influencers. According to a report from EConsultancy, the biggest challenge brands experience when working with influencers was identifying the correct influencer to work with.


The Future of Influencer Marketing

To meet the rising demand of influencer marketing, influencer agencies and boutique firms are popping up around the globe to help brands connect with influencers with both large followings and smaller “micro influencers” in niche categories with deep penetration. However, agencies aren’t the only ones getting involved with bridging the gap between brands and influencers. Looking towards the future of social media marketing and influencer partnerships, some are opting out of third-party intermediaries and going with platforms for connecting the two groups.

This shift in the influencer industry is a natural progression for marketers seeking increased efficiency in their work. As on the online economy continues to develop in convergence with the so-called “gig economy,” the need for connecting platforms, not agents, is growing. This shift has already occurred in the freelancing industry with names like Upwork, TaskRabbit, and Freelancer taking over the industry to connect companies and contractors. Likewise, the influencer industry is ripe for more disruption from more efficient platforms rather than representative agencies.

Likely already known by those in the online marketing world, AspireIQ is one the biggest influencer marketing platforms available for businesses. Originally called Revfluence, the platform enables influencers to register with them and create profiles and showcase online portfolios of their past performance. In return, companies can use the platform for seeking out different influencers across a variety of niches and content types.

A large benefit to platforms is that they enable companies to search with specific parameters. When marketing teams already know their budget, what type of content they’re looking for, and what size audience they’re looking to reach, platforms enable them to search explicitly for potential candidates rather than talking to multiple agencies looking for definitive numbers.

Taking advantage of the growth in platforms is another newer solution implementing blockchain technology and artificial intelligence to streamline the process. AQER, which stands for “Artificial-Intelligence Quotation for Entertainment Rights,” is shifting the platform model even further into the future through AI and blockchain. AQER is building a smart marketplace for entertainment rights with a focus on vlogging and other visual content creators. By creating a decentralized alternative for influencers and integrating smart contracts into the marketplace, creators won’t have to worry about costly intermediaries or the possibility of not being paid on the agreed upon amount. In addition, creators are ranked based upon agreed upon key performance indicators (KPIs) using AI to help brands find the best fit for their campaign.


Influencer and Brand Relationships Looking Forward

With influencer marketing continuing to grow and gain attention from more brands, the industry is finding faster, more efficient — and effective — means of connecting the two parties. Though it’s likely that influencer agencies won’t be falling to the wayside anytime in the near future, the industry is opening up to more efficient solutions like influencer platform. Entrepreneur sees the road ahead for influencer marketing focusing on a “more efficient marketplace,” meaning the rise of independent platforms and inclusion of smaller brand names and micro-influencers. New platforms means less pitching, better prices, and a more open marketplace for all.

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