Author: Niel Robertson (page 1 of 2)

The Future of Influencer Marketing is Here

Today we are thrilled to release what we’ve been internally calling Montage. Montage has been over a year in the works and is the foundation of the vision that helped us recently raise an amazing venture capital round (more on that soon). With this release we’re ushering in the second act of our company and hopefully contributing to the second act of the influencer marketing industry in general.

The Problem

We’ve heard from both influencers and businesses that there is no easy way for everyone to keep in touch. Our users tell us they don’t fill their Instagram feeds with businesses they might want to work with. They also say it’s a crap shoot if they approach a brand with a collaboration proposal, as the business might not even be running a campaign at the time. At best, influencers hear about collaboration opportunities by having accounts on multiple influencer platforms and constantly checking the opportunities there. Conversely, companies put tons of work into outreach and discovery of great influencers when they are in campaign-mode, but don’t have anywhere to keep the conversation going between campaigns or with influencers who weren’t a fit at the time but might be later on. The whole process of building relationships between influencers and brands just doesn’t exist. The most advanced companies we talk to still use giant spread sheets of influencer names and data that they admit are out of date and cumbersome. 

But we all are very used to keeping track of companies we’re interested in online. We are all used to the idea of following a store we like on Facebook or Instagram in case they announce a sale or following companies we might want to work for on LinkedIn in case they announce the job opening of our dreams. Why doesn’t this format exist for the influencer-business relationship? With Montage, now it does.

The Solution

With the Montage release, we have completely redesigned our Business Pages. Every member who had a brand or agency page before has been upgraded to the new Business Page format. Business Pages have all the information that existed on brand and agency profiles before but now also include all the members of that businesses’ influencer community. With a familiar post and feed format, businesses can keep their influencers up to date in only a few minutes a week. We’ve already heard from our charter Business Page users that they can’t wait to use their pages to announce the steady stream of opportunities they have for influencers. These might be campaigns or even local events like pop ups or activations that influencers can get involved in. They also want to show off the amazing work their influencers and ambassadors are doing, and their pages are a great place to do this.

Keeping Up On The Industry

We also heard loud and clear from influencers that information about the industry is very fragmented. Some go to blogs for news, some get it from YouTube or newsletters, and few have any idea what their peers are really working on and thinking about.

Your home screen on influence.co is now a familiar feed-based format that is a collection of what’s happening on the platform, industry news, original content from our shiny new content team, and amazing work from our community. We hope that this feed becomes your influencer marketing homepage online – a place to start your day and keep tabs on the most important news from the industry and community. Best of all, it’ll give us all a place to start having discussions and dialog around issues that matter to the influencer industry and to our own community. 

Building Your Professional Presence

Lastly, the Montage release is taking the first step towards providing you a more complete toolset for you to build and manage your professional presence as a member of the influencer marketing industry online. Past our beautiful, dynamic profiles, we give you growth stats, access to shareable demographics, the ability to follow brands and your peers, and the ability for them to start following you. As you add more content to your profile, you can keep your peers up to date on who you’ve been working with, what tools and techniques you’re learning, and how you’re growing as a professional in the industry.

We’re Learning Too

We love feedback! The good, the bad, and even the cringe-worthy, and we’re going to need a lot of it with this release. There are many concepts we’re introducing that are new ground for everyone in the industry. What activities do you want to share? What could the value of building an audience of your peers be? How do you talk to influencers on an ongoing basis and keep them engaged in your brand? If you want to give it to us privately you can always DM @influenceco on the platform. If you want to give it to us in public forum, feel free to comment on the @influenceco posts we’re putting out. We can’t wait to see what you all think.

More than anything, we’re just over the moon at how quickly our community has grown and the acceleration we’re seeing right now with influencers and businesses. We hope to earn a tab in your browser every morning, and we’ll keep working hard to make that the case.

And from me, the CEO of influence.co, a hat tip to the incredible team we have working on this project. Everyone red lined it in July to get this done and I could not be more proud of how we all pulled together to make it happen. Ryan, Shane, Faith, Dom, Paul, Jeff, Brad, Lynn – awesome work all around. Here we go!!

-Niel and the influence.co Team

Email Signups are Coming!

When we launched influence.co we made a decision to simplify our signup process by having everyone sign up using Instagram. That was a very useful decision as it allowed us to build some novel features which have been critical to our growth. 

Fast forward three years.

We now have 110,000 members, almost 20,000 of which are brands and agencies. As you’d expect, lots of our members have huge audiences on platforms other than Instagram. We have multi-million follower creators on YouTube, Pinterest, and blogs.

Instagram will still be a necessary part of your profile, but we want influencers building an audience on any platform to feel like influence.co can be their professional home base.

The first step in enabling that is to add email-based signups. Email based signups let you log into the platform with only an email (and won’t be susceptible to Instagram being down as we’ve seen recently). Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to log in using Instagram if you prefer to do that.

A few things you might find useful to know about our transition to email-based accounts if you’re an existing member:

  1. As soon as email-based logins are deployed, the next time you log into your account we’ll ask you for an email and password you wish to use for login.
  2. In our current system, the email you gave us when you signed up is used for notifications. Once we move to email-based accounts, the concept of “Notification Emails” will merge into your account email so there will only be one email to worry about. Whatever email you give to us as your new account email will be used for notifications going forward.
  3. You can change your account email at any time from the Account Settings page.
  4. You can still provide a BCC email for notifications (in case you want to notify your manager). This is still in the Edit Profile page.
  5. In very few cases, some of our current accounts have the same email in them (e.g. if a manager created three influencer accounts for her clients and used her email in all of them). Once email-based accounts are deployed, you’ll need to give us a different email for each account when you log into that account. Don’t worry – we’ll walk you through it. If you are using Gmail-based email addresses – there’s a nifty feature that Gmail provides which might be useful to you in this situation. Check out an article on it. 

We expect this process to go very smoothly but if you encounter any issues along the way, please do not hesitate to contact support at support@influence.co. 

Message Inbox

Today we introduced a long-awaited feature – Message Inbox

When we started influence.co, making it easy to contact influencers was a primary mission of ours.

Most companies in the space required you to fill out lengthy sign up forms to even see who was in their network (most still do).

We pioneered the concept of public profiles where influencers could make themselves freely and easily contactable.

Since then, our community of nearly 70,000 members has developed to include influencers, brands, influencer platforms, digital agencies and reps who work at them.

Not only do we see brands contacting influencers but we see influencers contacting brands (we have over 6500 brands now), brands contacting digital agencies (we have nearly 1500 agencies), influencers contacting talent agencies, agencies contacting brands, and even influencers contacting other influencers to organize collaborations.

As we have always known, messaging is core to community.

When we started, we kept messaging very simple: initiate a conversation on influence.co and then take the rest of the conversation to email.

That worked well in the start until brands and agencies started talking to 100s of influencers at a time for campaigns.

Having to store and sort emails from 100 influencers gets very hard, very fast – especially because influencers’ email addresses rarely have much to do with their instagram handles.

Just finding an influencer in your email can be tough.

We needed an upgrade.

leaping lady

Today we present the first version of this upgrade.

Message Inbox allows you to have complete conversations with anyone on the system, see information about them while chatting (e.g. their follower count, location, etc..), and access their application history with you and your team.

You’ll see it feels a lot like other business-centric messaging systems and a lot less like email.

We can still notify you of new messages in email so don’t worry, you don’t need to check in 10 times a day.

If you’re an agency, we’ve considered what you and your team might need as well.

The new Message Inbox has a shared inbox model.

Any team member in your agency can see and respond to any conversation and influencers will see both that the conversation is with you and who the actual team member is they are interacting with.

No more fear that valuable conversations are locked in your team members emails or careful planning about who is going to respond to which influencer.

We think these features alone will be transformational for some of our over 1400 agencies.

While we have a lot more in store for Message Inbox in the coming months, we look forward to hearing your feedback on it.

To find your Message Inbox simply look on the menu under your profile picture.

 

Announcing our new influencer and individual pricing plans

A few weeks ago we updated our business and agency pricing. We have been really pleased with the response so far. Today we are announcing the next step by moving our existing influencer pricing from $24/mo to $4/mo (or $48/yr). The new plan is only available on an annual basis.

We can’t thank enough everyone who became a PRO member under the old plan so we are giving everyone who is currently PRO a free year under the new annual subscription.

We designed our new plan to allow more influencers to take advantage of the PRO features we offer and to have more control over accelerating their careers. Being able to see your stats, who has viewed your profile, apply to more campaigns and contact others on the platform are all critical activities for those who approach being an influencer as a profession. In the coming months you’ll see us extend these capabilities even further by giving you more stats, demographic information, messaging history and more control over what you share on your public profile. Don’t worry, if you’re not PRO, you can still apply to campaigns, contact others on the platform and see your basic stats.

We also introduced a new plan type designed for individuals who are not influencers. We have a lot of members that work at PR, digital and talent agencies ensuring their clients find and connect with the right influencers and brands in the industry. Our new individual PRO plan (available on a monthly basis) gives them the ability to contact more members on the platform as well as track and organize everything on unlimited lists. To get an individual plan, set your account type to “representative” (in the Edit Profile menu item at the bottom). All existing individual PRO accounts will stay the same.

If you have any questions about your PRO subscription or any of our PRO plans, please don’t hesitate to contact us at support@influence.co. You can see our PRO pricing plans here.

— The influence.co Team

 

Product News : Amazon Shops, Extended Stats and Campaign Features

We have been incredibly pleased how quickly our campaigns feature has been adopted by both brands and agencies. After talking to hundreds of campaign managers about their experience we’ve started to roll out features to support the most common requests. Today we are launching some of these changes. 

Campaign Qualifications

If you’re an influencer, we are making it a lot easier to see which campaigns you qualify for and which you do not. Each qualifying item on a campaign will now indicate if you meet that condition or not. No more second guessing why you can’t apply to a campaign. Simply go to a campaign page and look at the qualifications section. You will not be able to see this information if you are not logged in.

Campaign Locations

For campaign managers, a common request is to allow more locations. Not all campaigns fit into a single location. We very commonly see campaigns for Canada and North America (due to shipping restrictions) or campaigns for various specific cities where companies have locations. You can now add up to ten locations that will qualify an influencer. As always you can specify locations from the country level down to a single city. City’s will qualify influencers in a small radius around that city (so “Los Angeles” will include folks in “West Hollywood”).

Campaign Accept and Decline

For both parties, getting a quick and clear answer if there is a collaboration opportunity for a campaign is useful. Campaign managers can now enter standard text they want to use to Accept or Decline applications. They may also still choose to reply without accepting or declining yet (e.g. to clarify a rate) with a custom message. We will start to track accept and decline stats on campaigns and eventually publish those as a useful piece of information to both parties.

Amazon Influencer Shop Links

As you likely have seen, we are a close partner with – and big believer in – the Amazon Influencers program. You can now add your Amazon Influencer Shop to your profile. This should drive additional traffic to your store. Also we have groundbreaking launch coming up just for Amazon Influencers. We’re incredibly excited about this and it will require you be an Amazon Influencer and to have an Amazon Influencer Shop link in your profile. You can Apply Here to join the program if you have not already.

Additional Stats

While not campaign-related, we launched an additional set of stats features that let you get a granular understanding of how you’re growing. You can now see month over month summaries as well as day by day stats information for the last 30 days. Just go to the My Stats menu and take a look. For now, your stats are only visible to you.

We have a lot more planned for this summer so please keep watching the site, newsletters, and our blog. If you have any questions at all please email support@influence.co. We’d love to help you!

Product Features and a Bit About our 2018 Vision

Dear influence.co Members,

A lot has been happening since the new year at influence.co.

While the influencer marketing industry continues to surge forward at an incredible pace, it also appears to be maturing just as quickly.

Influencer marketing companies are starting to realize it’s hard to do everything: recruit and keep influencers engaged, market and sell services, execute campaigns, build sophisticated software, and constantly expand their global footprints.

We are seeing new partnerships form to bridge these gaps, rollups and consolidation starting to happen, and even a few acquisitions here and there.

This is all good news for the industry as a whole and an indicator of a healthy ecosystem that’s moving from purely a land grab to one which is figuring out how to be really good at what it does and serve all of its customers the best ways possible.

Since day one of influence.co we have had a different vision than others in the space.

Being a creator or influencer is a visual medium.

Inspired by companies like Dribbble, LinkedIn, and even Model Mayhem (for those that remember that site) our goal has always been to provide a public space for everyone in the ecosystem to show off their amazing work.

While this was an obvious need for influencers we also wanted to highlight brands and agencies who were developing amazing campaigns, as well as photographers who were behind the lens, video content creators, and bloggers who weave text and visuals into unbelievable content.

By bringing everyone into a shared space to show off their work we believed we could help everyone find and engage with each other.

We’re proud that we’ve stayed true to this course.

As a company, we don’t sell or execute influencer marketing campaigns and we don’t make money off of collaborations we facilitate.

We do help lots of brands and agencies find influencers to work with and similarly we help influencers to find collaborations.

It’s pretty close to finding an amazing job or employee on LinkedIn or an amazing graphic designer on Dribbble.

For the most part everything on the site is still free.

We’re proud of this because we can help individuals and small agencies as well as large enterprise brands and powerhouse agencies too.

For our members that want a bit more, we offer PRO plans.

For brands and agencies that want to save countless hours finding great talent to work with, our PRO plans allow them to run campaigns to find that talent.

That’s it.

No percent of spend, no payment transaction fee – just a simple freemium model that starts by giving everyone data, discovery and access.

The great news is it’s working.

We’re quickly approaching 60K influencers on the platform and almost 2B total reach of their audiences.

Wow.

I still remember sitting with my co-founders at our Coachella launch party marveling at the 15 influencers who signed up that day!

Our growth and number are accelerating every month.

You can see it by the fresh faces on the site, the steady stream of campaigns available to apply to, and some of the amazing partners we’ve started to work with.

The influence.co team is giddy every day at the number of contacts being made on the platform, how many influencers are added to lists, the number of searches made on the database and the applications from influencers to campaigns.

To further help our community succeed, we’ve been quietly releasing a stream of new features this year.

While we have a few major announcements coming soon about the platform, for the time being we wanted to make sure you knew about these new features and how you can use them to achieve your goals as an influencer, brand or agency.

Everyone will find something useful in this mix.

From advanced search tools, access to your social growth statistics, and the ability to promote and be inspired by great work our members are doing, we continue to try and take our own path through the landscape.

As always, we’d love to hear from everyone one of our members.

You can always write to our incredible support team at support@influence.co if you have any questions, use our recently added live chat functionality on the site to talk to sales, or email me directly.

For now, check out these new features – we think you’ll love them. Ask all the questions your want. There is more to come!

UPGRADES TO OUR SEARCH TOOLS

We have introduced many new ways to search our members (not only influencers) including an incredibly powerful Advanced Search.

This should help you find some of the best influencers, brands, photographers, and agencies in our database a lot easier than before.

Brand Search

While we’ve allowed anyone to find influencers from day one we recently released the ability to search over 4000 brands who have built profiles on the platform.

Many have built amazing pages and use them as a way to engage interested influencers.

Just because a brand is not running a campaign at the current time, it doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to them to see if they’d be a good fit to work with.

We’ve seen many influencers have incredible luck proactively reaching out to brands and sending their influence.co profiles or media kits to them.

Take your influencer career in your own hands and go find some brands to collaborate with today!

Blogger Search

Next to finding brands, our most requested search was to find bloggers.

For ages we’ve had lots of information about our members blogs in the system – it was just hard to search on.

You can now find member profiles who have added blog posts as featured content or connected Google Analytics to their account.

If you’re looking for longer form collaborations make sure to update your profile information to include this so you show up in blogger search.

Username Search

Looking for your friends or someone you’ve worked with on influence.co?

Looking for a brand whose exact username you can’t remember?

Now you can do this with a simple username search built into the platform. Reminder – all our usernames are the same as Instagram.

Advanced Search

With over 25 parameters to choose from, our Advanced Search lets you slice and dice our influencer database in an unprecedented way to find the influencers you’re looking for.

Need influencers who are 21-30, live in Spain, post on Instagram and Pinterest and have 50-75K followers.

No problem, Advanced Search has you covered.

Advanced Search will be available to all members for a limited time (before it becomes a PRO feature) so make sure you play with it to see how you appear in various search results.

 

PROFILE STATS

We recently launched the ability to see both how many searches you have appeared in as well as how many profile views your profile has received.

We know that exposure is everything for getting collaborations so these stats are a simple way to understand how well you’re doing in the system and how changes you make to your profile will help increase the exposure you are getting.

We’ll be sharing some tips and tricks soon about how to increase exposure to your profile and rank higher in search results.

For now, simply make sure your profile is as complete as possible.

Our search results algorithms prioritize profile completeness over anything else (e.g. follower count) in terms of how you rank.

FOLLOWER GROWTH STATS

As soon as an member signs up we start tracking follower count growth on a daily basis.

Wonder how quickly you’re growing?

What about your friends or a brand you’re about to work with?

Instagram follower growth is available publicly on all profiles underneath social network stats.

Click through to get more detail. Here is mine: https://influence.co/nielr1/stats

While Instagram information is public to all, we also are tracking follower growth for each channel you have authorized on your influence.co profile.

This currently includes Pinterest, your Facebook Page, Twitter, and your blog via Google Analytics.

We are putting the finishing touches on this data and will be presenting it to you soon.

Channels other than Instagram will start off as private for your eyes only.

You will be able to pick and choose which ones you make public.

If you haven’t connected your other social networks yet, do that now so we can start tracking your growth.

You can add social networks from the Edit Profile page.

We want influence.co to become a go-to source to track your social media presence to this is one step in that direction.

JOBS

We quietly launched our industry jobs board a couple of months ago and it has become one of the most active parts of our site.

You can find it here: https://influence.co/go/jobs

We list any type of job available in the influencer industry from internships to VPs of major companies.

Looking to go full-time as a specialist in the industry?

Have a browse!

If you work for a company that’s looking to hire you can have your job posting listed for free as well.

Just email the URL of the job listing to jobs@influence.co and we’ll add it to our next update.

 

SHOWCASES

Lastly (and far from least), we are very proud to introduce Showcases.

Showcases is a critical component for us as a company fulfilling an internal vision we are calling “Inspired and Hired”.

For a long time we have believed the actual content that influencers make (and the work that goes into it) is highly under appreciated in the industry.

The press loves to focus on fake followers, missing ROI, and vanity metrics around follower counts and engagement rates but we all know the heart of being and amazing influencer or creator is incredible content.

Few people really understand the actual effort that goes into the final posts that everyone sees.

Our goal for 2018 is to not only be a place where influencers, creators, brands and agencies come to find collaborations, but to be a place where everyone can come to be inspired by others’ work and to applaud those who have inspired them.

To this end, we launched our first Showcases this week with an amazing set of influencers.

A Showcase is a simple way for an influencer to show off the technical and creative journey that went into the final photo they posted online.

This could be all the photographs that hit the cutting room floor, techniques and tools they used, or creative decisions they made along the way.

Accompanying each photo are notes from the influencer on these decisions and how it got them to the final product.

The idea is that everyone can view these Showcases, learn from the description of the process, applaud the work, and perhaps comment their support to the influencer.

We have similar plans to do allow brands to create Showcases of their final campaigns as the collection of work that went into them across influencers get lost a bit with the posts scattered across so many accounts.

Over time the idea is to allow every influencer to create their own Showcases and to bring influencer-created content to the forefront of our community and site.

If by the end of year half our site’s visitors are simply looking for great ideas for their next photo shoot and half are looking for their next collaboration partner, we’ll be very happy with that.

If you want to be involved in our beta version of Showcases please email support@influence.co.

We are still looking to add more to our first batch.

You can see all the charter Showcases here: https://influence.co/go/showcases/

Please stop by and read about our influencers creative journeys and show them some comment love.

I know that’s a lot to consume so go have fun playing with the new features and don’t forget to give us feedback.

Could we present data better?

Do you want more control over what the public can see?

What other statistics do you want us to collect and share with you?

What else can we do to promote the hard work influencers, creators, brands and everyone in the industry does.

We want influence.co to be an incredible resource so please continue to give us feedback.

Keep influencing,
Niel and the influence.co Team

2018 Influencer Marketing Predictions Roundup (as well as some of our own)

 

Tis the season for 2018 predictions and it’s no surprise that the Internet is bubbling with ones about influencer marketing. 2017 was the year where influencer marketing went mainstream.

In 2018 we’ll see a surge in companies using influencer marketing and the amounts being spent on campaigns appears to be bubbling as much as the predictions.

In the spirit of influence.co being an inclusive and open platform, we decided to do a roundup of the most common predictions we heard from bloggers, news outlets, and individuals. We’ve added some of our own color of course to hopefully make them worth a (second) review.

Prediction: Data will dominate the conversation

The most common prediction for 2018 is that brands will start to demand more data. The most common demand will be data about influencer audiences and campaign performance. Fair enough – for any marketing channel to mature, marketers need to understand (and justify) how their money is being spent.

We believe that data focused on the true reach of an influencer and thus any spend made with them will become more common.

This will include basic demographics like location (is the influencers audience where the marketer needs it to be?), engagement rates for different content types (e.g. does their sponsored content fly or fail?), and deeper analysis of fraudulent audiences.

However, we believe that measurement of campaign success will still lag in 2018. This is mostly due to challenges with core platforms like Instagram making tracking and measurement hard. You still can’t put a clickable and trackable URL into an Instagram post. That said, we think brands will massively increase budgets anyway.

Our take: Yes and no

Prediction: Enforcement by the FTC will increase

Many 2018 predictions expect increased sword rattling and guideline enforcement by the FTC. While there will likely be a few more public admonishments, we think the average influencer and brand won’t be affected by this.

Instagram and Facebook’s new Paid Partnership feature (see it in the wild here: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bc5Yw-8hihX/?taken-by=newdarlings) will give brands and influencers an easy out and the FTC will likely have limits to how much they want to poke the bear.

Product placement in Hollywood and television runs more rampant than ever and this likely isn’t territory they want to enter. We have seen this regulatory pageant play itself out before in the blogging world.

After the hand slapping was finished, most everyone settled into some commonly understood, promoted and comfortably used guidelines.

Our take: Meh

Prediction: Influencer campaigns move to always-on

We definitely agree with this from what we see on influence.co. While many new companies will still have project-based influencer marketing campaigns as they experiment with the channel for the first time, many companies will constantly recruit and use influencers regularly.

We see this with companies like Bond-Eye Swimwear and the 5TH who include new influencers constantly in their marketing messages.

In addition, more companies will move their best influencers to formal brand ambassador relationships and a whole new discussion around how those relationships should be structured will emerge.

We will likely see a number of power middle influencers declare ambassador relationships with power middle brands.

Our take: Yup

Prediction: Some influencer marketing companies will go away

We track over 200 companies that generally say they provide software and services to the influencer marketing industry. This was 50 at the end of 2015, 100 at the end of last year and it’s now 200.

But being a “complete” influencer marketing services and software company is hard (which is why we don’t try to be).

To be a “complete” influencer marketing company you need to have software to manage campaign workflow (it’s still expensive to build software), recruit brands (have a sales team), recruit influencers (and keep them busy with work), manage and run campaigns (have an account team who can ship and track products to 100s of influencers a week), and build and maintain APIs to the major networks.

Not surprisingly, no one has really accomplished this.

Most influencer marketing companies are what the industry calls “technology enabled services business” which means they are agencies with a bit of custom built technology that helps them handle more clients than normal.

In 2017 we saw the first maturing of the market where companies started to focus on only one or two parts of the “complete” influencer marketing stack. In 2018 we’ll see clearly defined categories of companies (e.g. influencer CRM systems, data providers, etc..)

Without a real advantage in any one of these areas, some of companies will buckle under the commitments they have made to their software customers while still trying to service other clients.

In addition, influencers will start to get “platform fatigue”, choosing to only build and maintain a presence on a limited number of platforms especially as more agencies consolidate their influencer recruitment into a few places.

We predict that half of the current companies that offer influencer marketing software will either fall off or convert themselves into influencer focused agencies that use other companies software.

Our take: Sadly, yes

Prediction: Influencer content becomes as big as influencer audiences (influencers become creators)

We see a large trend recently of influencer marketing companies promoting content creation as the core benefit of an influencer (as opposed to their audience). This highlights the emerging naming battle between “influencers” and “creators”.

While we think that YouTube creators will continue to produce amazing content that threatens traditional media outlets, we suspect the opportunity for influencer created content (without their audience) is inflated.

While many large digital agencies will feel the pressure of not being able to charge $2M for video production when an influencer can do it for $200K, this will be a small phenomenon with limited impact.

Companies like Victors and Spoils exposed this soft underbelly of agencies a long time ago through crowdsourcing. While they found some success, they did not topple the industry (Havas eventually bought V&S).

By and large companies have figured out how to create content well before influencers existed and new options like selfmade.co are emerging to make their own content look professionally produced.

What is still hard is building an audience. That will continue to be the true value of influencers.

Our take: Meh

Those are the most common predictions we hear. Some great posts that include them are here:

Our Turn : influence.co Predictions for 2018

While many of the following have probably been said in one way or another, we wanted to chime in on a predictions of our own that we thought have a high likelihood of coming true. We’ll even give our expectation they happen.

Prediction: Boosting become part of most campaign budgets

Brands will start to look across all influencer content produced for a campaign and selectively boost the best posts. For small additional money, the best working parts of a campaign can be amplified. Having more audience data will only increase this practice.

The best influencers and agencies have been doing this quietly in the background already.

Likelihood: 40%

Prediction: Everyone becomes and influencer marketing company

In 2018 we’re going to stop tracking influencer marketing companies. While we think a number of specialist companies will fall off, we think the 200 we track will become 2000 in 2018.

We looked at 65 PR company websites recently and found that over 80% of them state influencer marketing as a core competency (or even their whole business). In 2018 we’ll see every digital agency, public relations firm, content creation company, and talent agency officially be in the influencer marketing game.

Part of why we think half the existing companies will fall off in 2018 is that the number of companies calling a brand and offering influencer marketing services will spike. This will drive up acquisition costs and crater margins for those who make their money only off of influencer campaigns.

Existing agencies have small incremental costs to push their existing customers into trialing influencer marketing with them and they’ll use this advantage to edge out specialized players.

Likelihood: 97%

Prediction: Bloggers and YouTube surge

Instagram has always been an easy way to experiment with influencer marketing. The supply is easy to find, the costs are low, and the content is quick to create. Its lack of measurability will drive brands who want to spend bigger budgets back to bloggers.

Larger brands will circle their wagons around YouTube due to the combination of scale, boostability, OOT advertising, and measurability.

Likelihood: 75%

Prediction: Big marketing players buy their way into the game

BuzzSumo was the opening salvo in the acquisition game. 2018 will see the first purchase of an influencer marketing software company by one of the traditional mar-tech players (Oracle, Adobe, Salesforce, HootSuite, HubSpot, etc..).

Once someone declares they are in the game, there will be a flurry of activity (likely spilling into 2019) so that everyone can say they have a story. This is what happened in the social media software space once Buddy Media was bought by Salesforce.com.

Likelihood: 60%

Prediction: Micro influencer aggregation

Discovering, reaching out to, negotiating with, tracking, and paying 25 micro influencers on a campaign is still way to hard. Solutions will emerge to help brands (and influencers) run scale collaborations with less effort. We have some ideas here so stay tuned.

Likelihood: 50%

Prediction:  A name brand VC will take a position in an influencer marketing company

To date the industry (with limited exception) has been funded by angels, microfunds and non-valley funds. In 2018 one or two players will break out far enough to warrant the attention of a traditional Silicon Valley venture investor.

Likelihood: 30%

Conclusion

Any way you slice it, 2018 is shaping up to be an amazing, tumultuous, progressive and important year for influencer marketing. We’re happy to be playing a part in the ecosystem. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to write to us!

The influence.co Team

Announcing Agency Pages

Today we’re very proud to introduce Agency Pages. Supporting agencies has always been a fundamental part of our strategy to becoming the complete open platform for the influencer ecosystem. We now support influencers, businesses/brands, and agencies. While we’ve had an agency account type for a while, we’ve always know there was a much better set of features we could deliver. Today we take a big step down that path.

First of all, what the heck do we mean by agency? There are so many different types of agencies that have signed up for influence.co in the last year that it’s been hard to narrow down which types to focus on. We finally decided to orient our agency solution around three basic types of agencies who are at the center of the industry:

Talent management and modeling agencies – these companies all have long rosters of talent many of which are now powerful influencers as well.

Digital marketing agencies – these companies manage all or part of their clients’ digital marketing strategy. This might include PPC, SEO,  social media, email marketing, ad buying or even just creative production. These agencies are now tasked with managing influencer marketing campaigns on their clients’ behalves.

PR agencies – long responsible for working with people who get the word out about companies or products, PR agencies have refashioned themselves as knowledgeable players in the influencer industry.

We spent the last few months talking to a lot of agencies that fit those characterizations and some very common themes emerged quickly. First and foremost was that no one in the industry seemed to be catering to the agencies themselves.  Because we don’t run campaigns as a business (or make money off campaign budgets) we don’t view agencies as competition. We view agencies as critical to a healthy marketplace where brands can run campaigns themselves or work with others to do it. If we end up with every digital marketing agency running their clients’ campaigns on top of influence.co, nothing would make us happier.

The other big themes we heard were:

  • Its very hard to onboard and manage multiple client profiles whether they be talent or businesses running campaigns
  • You need to be able to easily switch between clients to perform actions for all of them (like apply to the same campaign for 10 different influencers)
  • An agency team needs to work together and share resources such as lists of influencers
  • It’s important to get all the communication between influencers and businesses if you’re a manager in the middle representing either side
  • Recruit new influencers and business clients is hard. How can a platform like ours help do that.

These problems are what we set out to solve and I’m very happy with the simple and elegant solutions we came up with.

The new design of Agency Pages let’s you show off your talent roster and clients. The best way to find new clients is to brag about who you already work with. When you build your Agency Page you’re basically building a client display. We designed this intelligently to let you add your roster all at once and allow them to sign up for influence.co in their own time. No more emailing your clients to badger them to sign up for a platform before you can show them off as your client.

Second, Agency Pages let you add your own team members. We heard loud and clear that it doesn’t work to have everyone on the team know and use your central Instagram account login – they can log into influence.co with their own accounts. Once they are a team member they can collaborate and work on lists with each other. Shared lists live in the agency account so if a team members leaves your company they won’t take all their influencer work with them.

Lastly, and most importantly, any team member can quickly become any of your verified clients in the system and act on their behalf. Want to have one of your influencers apply to 5 campaigns? No problem, just do so on their behalf. Want to set up and run a campaign for your new business client? Your account manager for that client can do that for them. Team members have full ability to manage your clients’ profiles and act on their behalf.

While there is a lot more we have planned, we think this is a powerful start to supporting one of the most important members of the influencer marketing industry. We look forward to having you try it out.

Go Pro Now!

 

Niel Robertson

CEO, influence.co

 

Announcing Business Pages and Business PRO

Today we are excited to announce broad availability for our Business Pages and Business PRO accounts.

When we started influence.co we were compelled by the idea that influencers had nowhere to show off their best work. LinkedIn’s format wasn’t visual enough, Dribbble oriented towards design portfolios and the idea of building your own media kit or website was a daunting and expensive one for most influencers. We set out to build a simple digital media kit site. 1 year and 45K influencers later, we’re pretty convinced that was a good idea!

What we noticed along the way though is that brands and businesses were crowbarring themselves into the influencer-centric format we had designed for these pages. In our experience, when you see customers you never expected trying to use your system for something you didn’t think of, you should lean in and ask a lot of questions. And we did. What we found out was this:

  • Businesses had no easy way to tell an influencer who they were or who they had worked with before and no easy way to establish credibility when doing outreach.
  • Businesses were spending hours each day reaching out to influencers hoping they contacted someone who was both a good fit for them and also liked their products and services.
  • Influencers didn’t want to wait around for businesses to contact them and would rather find brands they liked and apply to them.

So we launched Business Pages. Business Pages give brands and businesses a very simple way to showcase their products and explain who they worked with before. Immediately we saw a huge number of Business Pages being created. We also saw a lot of influencers contacting businesses through them asking if they had projects to work on. So we took the obvious next step and allowed businesses to create a campaign, describe who they were looking for and accept applications right from their page. In only two months time we went from a standing start to 1000s of applications a month.

Today we launched the last piece of the puzzle: Business PRO. Business PRO takes all the features of Business Pages and turns them up to 11. With Business PRO you can:

  • Require applicants meet criteria like follower count minimums, location, engagement rate, blog reach, etc.
  • Contact up to 300 influencers a month outbound
  • Create campaign reports on your influencers to see if they have posted for your campaign and display all the content they have created
  • Export reports to CSV and Excel
  • Be featured on our brands page (which drives 150-250 applicants in the first week)

All of this ads up to a major evolution of our business. Not only are we providing a great (and free) service for influencers but now we can do the same for businesses. Those that want more advanced features can simply upgrade to PRO. Having both influencers and businesses is a virtuous cycle. The more campaigns that are available, the more influencers keep their profiles up to date. The more up to date profiles there are, the easier it is for brands to find influencers. Round and round! We’re really excited to see where this takes us.

If you want to see some of our favorite business pages, check out our features page here.

If you want to learn more about Business PRO check out our pricing page here

Introducing Collections

Influencer marketing is a time-consuming activity. It requires finding influencers, reaching out to them, managing content production, approvals, reporting, and finally payment. At influence.co our singular goal is to make every influencer marketing easier for everyone involved. Today we launched another way we think we can do that: Collections.

A Collection is a simple concept but it can have incredible time-saving features. Collections are small lists of influencers we love, all from a single category we think is useful. We spend so much time looking at influencers every day we realized we should save everyone some time and share our favorites.

We are starting with simple Collections like our favorite Dog Influencers or our members with large Pinterest followings. Over time we will show you some more powerful ways small curated collections can be valuable.

All our Collections are built on top of our powerful list functionality. We actually build lists in our own accounts and then effectively make them public. This means you can copy a Collection to your own list and then manage it as you like. Add more influencers to it, delete from it or compare influencer stats in one place. And when you’re ready you can email everyone on a list with only a few keystrokes. As we build out Collections we think this might be best starting point for finding influencers on the platform.

Take a look at the new Collections page and the first few Collections we have pulled together. We expect to update the Collections page every few weeks with new ideas and new requests. Don’t hesitate to send us requests for Collections at info@influence.co. We have access to lots of data about our influencers on the back end that may not be available in search yet and might be able to whip up a Collection for you.

The influence.co Team

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