To say that influencer marketing is an emerging market is an understatement. It’s already here. eMarketer forecasts influencer marketing budgets to be $4.1B in 2022 and $5B in 2023.
With all this growth and investment in influencer campaigns, it is critical for influencer marketing platforms to innovate and provide brands with a way to grow, scale, and integrate their programs effectively.
This allows marketers to discover new and emerging influencers using various criteria and search functionality. However, it means that there should be functionality to manage influencer relationships, collect payments, and campaign management, all of the fundamental things needed to manage an influencer marketing campaign. There is still a long way to go, in my opinion.
Before diving into which influencer marketing software is the most effective for your business, we’ll define influencer marketing and its meaning. We’ll then jump into influencer marketing for B2C and consumer brands and the influencer platforms for B2B/enterprise companies.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Dumb question. I know. Avoiding influencer marketing in today’s social media-driven world is almost impossible. Influencers are everywhere and have a powerful effect on those who follow them. They influence purchase decisions, spark movements, and can drive brand awareness to new audiences that brands could not reach themselves. This post will examine influencer marketing and why choosing the right influencer marketing platform is critical.
Influencer marketing is when a company hires an influential person to participate in a marketing or communications program. In the B2B space, an influencer is a thought leader, subject matter expert, and industry veteran within a particular field. For example, many technology influencers have previously worked as journalists, reporters, or analysts within large organizations. Most B2B influencer marketing campaigns are executed across LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and through blogs and social media communities.
For consumer brands, influencer programs, and the influencers they work with are slightly different. The industry refers to them as “creators,” Many strive to make influencer-related work their full-time job. These influencers and creators can range across many demographics, geographies, and interest areas, depending on the industry. Many are influential and active on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. They are bloggers, photographers, producers, and writers. And recently, TikTok has become the premier influencer marketing platform for the creator community.
Influencer Marketing Platforms for Consumer Brands
There isn’t much differentiation between influencer marketing software platforms like Julius, Grin, CreatorIQ, Mavrck, and Klear. The only exception is Tagger Media. I’ll get into that in a minute. This isn’t the complete list, either. There are probably 20+ more in the market. Here is a more comprehensive list of influencer platforms curated by G2 if you are interested.
Most of these platforms have identical or at least similar features. For example, they all have influencer search capabilities to find influencers within an existing influencer database, do campaign management and reporting, launch campaigns, and other influencer relationship management functionality.
Most also provide influence outreach, 3rd party integration, workflow automation, audience segmentation & and more advanced campaign reporting. The platform differences are mainly related to the cost and licensing of these influencer marketing platforms. Of course, some have better features, others are easier to use, and a few have more integrated workflows. But it’d be hard to convince me that one platform can find a more influential beauty influencer than the other.
Tagger is winning in this space
Below is an influencer profile page from one of the leading influencer management software platforms, Tagger Media. Of all the platforms I have used or reviewed, I would say that Tagger’s existing platform and the vision for where they want to go are the strongest.
Below is an example of an influencer profile for a B2B tech influencer, Ronald Van Loon. This view shows a quick snapshot of Ronald’s audience growth across the four main channels where he is active-Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Looking further below, you’ll see the content that has driven the most engagement. The links at the top go much deeper into Ronald’s overall influence and show his audience demographics, the topics he mentions the most, his affinities, and more.
While most of the other influencer management software platforms also provide similar profile pages, their databases don’t include B2B tech creators.
They are winning because they recognize the opportunity of building capabilities that support B2B and tech companies. Their Signals product is better than several legacy social listening platforms I have used in the past.
Influencer Marketing Platforms for B2B and Enterprise Technology Companies
Only three influencer marketing software providers do an excellent job meeting the needs and capabilities of marketers who work in B2B technology marketing–Traackr, Onalytica, and Audiense.
Traackr is the OG
Traackr is the OG influencer platform and has been around in the industry longer than the others. Their influencer discovery platform has always been pretty strong. The platform allows you to search for influencers in a few different ways.
- Bio Search: Search keywords and phrases within a specific bio, which pulls from Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. It’s not hard to find journalists, editors, futurists, or TEDx speakers by searching for those keywords, for example. You can also look for interests like business, travel, or technology.
- Influencer Content: Search for keywords, phrases, or hashtags influencers have used within 180 days in any social media content they publish online. So, you can identify influencers if they shared or published any content related to any topic. The platform also allows you to combine bio and content searches, so imagine identifying editors who have written about the metaverse or web3. It’s possible.
- Audience: Find influencers that reach specific audiences based on interest and general audience demographics. For example, you can select topics like business and technology, craft beer, fashion, or fitness. Then, the tool will display the influencers with the highest percentage of audiences with these interests.
With Traackr, you can also use all three variables when searching for influencers. For example, you can look for influencers with metaverse in their bio, talk about web3 or AR/VO, and have an audience interested in technology. Or, instead of having metaverse in their bio, you can add keywords like reporter, journalist, or editor to find different types of influencers that way. This feature is probably one of the best for identifying B2B and technology influencers.
Similar to Tagger, they also have influencer analytics where you can track keyword mentions, engagement rates, and more.
Onalytica Influencer Relationship Management Platforms
Onalytica is the leading influencer marketing software provider for B2B. It’s similar to Traackr in that it allows you to combine bio-related keywords and content searches. They also get brownie points because they support Boolean Logic in bio and content searches. One of the significant differentiators with Onalytica is that they have predefined and curated different topical communities, job functions, and industries. All this work was done manually, ensuring higher quality output and more relevant influencers. In addition, all of the influencers in their database are real people. Therefore, you will never find fake accounts or company social handles when searching for influencers.
They also have a robust influencer outreach and management platform that allows you to analyze influencer content, engagement, and topics and find new influencers. In addition, they have built social listening capabilities into their platform, allowing you to track any conversation or brand being mentioned by the influencers in your program. Another differentiator with their influencer analysis platform is that they also provide LinkedIn engagement data for the influencers that have opted into their network. You will not find this type of data in any influencer marketing software.
Below is a screenshot of the Onalytica influencer marketing platform. For context, we collected about 800+ AI influencers and added them to this project. We segmented the influencers into different groups for this program–general tech influencers, reporters/journalists, C-suite, analysts, and academia.
The data below shows a word cloud of the influencers and the top keywords and phrases based on the volume of usage. So, if you look toward the bottom, you will see the top keywords and phrases used by just one of the segments, the C-Suite. This distinction is important because not all influencers are the same, even if they discuss similar topics. For example, when talking about AI, the C-Suite might be referencing scale and integration, whereas the general tech influencer might be talking more about AI and security.
You will also notice the top-performing content from the influencers in our project. These also link to the primary source and give you an aggregate view of the total number of shares, how many other influencers it was shared by, and the potential views. You will also notice the top 20 hashtags and the times they were mentioned within the influencer community.
This is just the community insights, but there is much more than you can analyze related to mentions of specific brands, products, and competitors, and more of a deep dive into the conversation. They also provide users with influencer mapping visualizations, which show all the influencers’ relationships and connections in the project.
In 2021, they launched MyOnalytica, the world’s largest B2B marketplace that connects enterprise companies to tech influencers.
Audiense Consumer Insights & Engagement Platform
Audiense isn’t an influencer marketing platform or management tool. The software allows you to build social audiences based on several variables. There is an important distinction that should be mentioned here. Often, marketers will create influencer campaigns based purely on topical relevance. They use one of the platforms to find influencers; they may use social listening to do an influencer analysis, data mine influencer content, integrate them into a social media marketing program, and then launch what they hope to be a successful influencer campaign.
But this is not always a guarantee. Unfortunately, there are ways to game the system and make engagement numbers or audience sizes much more significant than they are. The same is true for all influencer marketing, not just the high-profile influencers who buy Instagram followers. This is more of an industry issue that has yet to be course-corrected.
An alternative could be a more practical approach to finding relevant influencers using Audiense.
For example, with the platform, you can build an audience of data scientists, developers, people interested in craft beer, or travel enthusiasts; one output of the analysis will include people who influence this specific audience. The data is not based on keywords or topics either. Instead, it’s based on the percentage of the audience that follows particular individuals, brands, and media publications.
Below is an example of a developer audience we built several years ago. Notice where it says “DevOps and Kubernetes” under developer audience. This is because we segmented the developer audience into smaller sub-segments, and this data reflects just the influencers who influence this segment of developers.
The affinity data point represents the percent of this sub-segment developer audience that follows each individual. Finally, the uniqueness data is a number from zero to 100 that illustrates how unique the influencer is compared to that of an index (gen pop), And in this case, an index of other business professionals.
This distinction is more critical for B2B and technology companies than consumer brands. Most of the influencers you will find in this analysis are usually unexpected. For data scientists, it’s other data scientists. For the developer audience, it is other software developers. And here’s the funny thing, these influencers don’t even know they are influential. They don’t consider themselves creators or thought leaders.
Every company and agency has different requirements for influencer marketing software, so don’t take my word for it because my requirements will differ from yours. I would recommend, though, to document your requirements based on the functionality you need, nice to have or can’t live without, and then demo software so you can map your requirements to their capabilities. In any case, you’ll need a scaleable influencer marketing platform that can power and support your B2B social strategy.
What is an Influencer Network?
The influencer marketing software tools mentioned above are mainly self-service, and the business model is easy to understand. First, you pay an annual fee to get access to the platform. Then, you can log in and search for influencers, add them to campaigns, and track the program’s performance. The platforms above also have training programs and customer success teams to walk users through how to use the platform.
An influencer network is a little bit different. The best way to describe it is to think of eBay. eBay is an e-commerce platform that connects buyers to sellers and manages the exchange of goods and services for payment.
An influencer network is the same thing–it connects brands to influencers. One of the earliest influencer networks was PayPerPost. They are still around today, but the concept gave birth to Izea, an influencer marketing platform with a network of several thousand content creators across all social media channels.
They have two models, a managed services approach where they will handle everything from influence or identification to launching a campaign and measuring their results. They also have a self-service model. Unlike the self-service influencer networks mentioned above, all financial transactions and communications are managed within the Izea platform.
Another similar influencer network is Influence.co, which is more of an influencer marketing platform and community meant to connect creators to the brands that create profiles within the system.
Are there any influencer networks for B2B and Tech brands?
Kind of, but not really. In 2021, Onalytica created a marketplace for influencers specifically for B2B and technology brands called MyOnalytica. They don’t manage any payment and communication details, but they have one of the best influencer marketing software and influencer discovery tools in the marketplace for B2B. Technology influencers can add more information to their profile and include their LinkedIn engagement data, and they also can analyze influence or conversations in real-time and historically.
Also, Thinkers360 has started to move in the influencer marketing space. First, they position themselves as a thought leadership platform, which is smart. Thought leaders and influencers can create profiles and pull data directly from LinkedIn. Their pricing model is based on the amount of information influencers can have on their public profiles. They also have a discovery tool to find influencers and thought leaders about specific topics and charge a small subscription fee for access.
What’s Next for Influencer Marketing Platforms?
There have been many technological innovations in social media over the last ten years. For example, social media monitoring platforms have integrated natural language processing, AI, visual analysis, and different algorithms to ensure that marketers have actionable insights. In addition, many have integrated data visualization capabilities, API exports, social media dashboard integration, and audience analysis capabilities to improve their product offering and be more competitive in the market.
It’s hard to say the same about influencer marketing software and platforms. There has been very little innovation, if any, in this space. Granted, there has been an increase in software providers of influencer marketing platforms, but the only real innovation comes when they integrate major social media platforms into the core experience.
For example, it wasn’t until mid-2021 that most of the top influencer marketing platforms started integrating TikTok data when discovering new influencers. So that’s not innovation in my mind because they all do it.
It also seems that entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and even the media ignore B2B and technology influencer marketing. There is never any coverage of the innovative programs that technology companies do with influencer marketing.
I rarely see a B2B case study in some of the more prominent publications like Forbes, Adweek, and other trade media publications. The journalists who write about influencer marketing ignore me whenever I pitch them ideas on what to write about. And the fact that only two influencer marketing platforms in the market focus solely on B2B are sad, especially when you compare that to the growing list of influencer marketing software providers for consumer brands.
This is a massive opportunity for entrepreneurs to build a scalable, integrated, and data-driven influencer marketing platform to disrupt the market. Or, I can even see a social listening vendor like Brandwatch, Talkwalker, Pulsar Platform, or Synthesio put some development resources behind building an influencer marketing software product that will help scale and integrate enterprise social media.