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Janice McCafferty Communications Beauty PR

Influencer Marketing has become an incredibly powerful tool for beauty brands over the past few years. Social media influencers have carved a niche for themselves in the marketing world by providing value to brands through authentic endorsements in exchange for products/ services or monetary compensation.

Falling squarely in the gray area between PR and marketing, working with influencers can be quite the process. On one hand, managing influencer relationships is very similar to managing relationships with journalists – where unique one on one relationships are the norm. On the other hand, managing influencer output (aka social media posts) is typically more easily handled by social media teams – where that output can be taken advantage of and repurposed on the brand’s own social channels.

It’s fair to say that managing an influencer program can quickly become a full-time job. The logistics alone entail everything from keeping track of the influencers that have been pitched to monitoring and responding to the content that influencers are creating on behalf of the brand. Overwhelmed yet?

Luckily, working with influencers doesn’t have to mean a mountain of spreadsheets. There are services brands can join that do everything from managing influencer relationships to reporting on the outcomes of campaigns. Here are four factors we believe should always be taken into account when selecting an influencer platform.

Business Relationship

First and foremost, does the influencer platform being evaluated require a long-term contract or do they do things on a project-to-project basis? Access to some of the larger platforms available cost upwards of $25,000 a year and requires a commitment of 6-12 months. Large brands, fully embracing influencer marketing may not bat an eye at those numbers, but many small and mid-size brands can’t make such large commitments.

This is where tools offering campaigns on a one-off basis come into the picture. Brands looking to dip their toes into influencer marketing or avoid overly committing often find these platforms much better suited to their needs.

Ease of Use

As you would assume, all influencer platforms aren’t created equal. Brands looking for complete control can find tools allowing them to approve and deny influencers on a one-off basis and craft unlimited campaigns. In doing so, the brand takes on the responsibility and workload of managing campaigns from start to finish which can become extremely time consuming, particularly as the number of concurrent campaigns ramps up.

At the other end of the spectrum, are networks that manage campaigns from start to finish on behalf of brands. Some control is typically given up in exchange for the ability to “set it and forget it.” This is the model we crafted the Shopping Beautifully influencer network after. It works incredibly well for one-off campaigns larger brands want to do as well as for up-and-coming brands who don’t have the manpower to dedicate managing campaigns internally.

Influencer Vetting Process

Perhaps one of the most important parts of evaluating an influencer program is ensuring that influencers in the network are of the highest quality. As networks grow, maintaining this quality can get tough. That’s why asking about how influencers are vetted is crucial before committing.

But it doesn’t stop at the process. Understanding how often influencers are reevaluated is key as well. An amazing up-and-coming micro-influencer could have 10,000 followers and amazing engagement today but purchase fake followers and destroy their engagement overnight.

Proper vetting ensures influencers with poor engagement or a poor history of FTC compliance don’t make it into the network to begin with. Long-term due diligence through periodic evaluations ensures that network quality remains high. This is key when it comes to campaign ROI.

Influencer Variety

One final, and often overlooked, element to evaluate is influencer variety. This means more than having micro and macro-influencers in the network. While there is tremendous value in being able to tap into small, dedicated followings or hitting a large, expansive audience through one “big name” influencer, there is more to consider.

Some beauty influencers only post flat lays for example. Some post product roundups exclusively and rarely focus on individual brands. Some only post lifestyle content, mentioning, but never including products in their posts. Quality networks will have a mix of all of the above. This lets brands dictate the type of content they’re after and ensures the network can deliver.

Decision Time

Over the past few years, JMPR has worked with tools geared towards both large and small organizations. What we’ve found is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to influencer marketing.

More often than not, internal resources dictate whether or not an organization can even consider investing in a self-managed platform. Does anyone have the time to manage this? If not, do we have any external relationships (like an external PR or marketing firm) that we can leverage to manage this on our behalf? If the answer is no, working with a managed, project-to-project network may be a better fit.

If you’re interested in speaking with us about our experiences working with beauty influencers don’t hesitate to reach out and contact us. We’re always happy to help.

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