What Is Influencer Management? (And Should You Offer It as a Service?)Dec 18, 2023
In the age of social media, influencers are the new celebrities. They dictate trends and their favorite products become must-haves in their niches. If your client wants to target young people (especially Gen Zers!) with their next launch, you’ll probably start incorporating influencers into your PR strategy — but influencer management can be a lot to handle!
Adding influencer management services to your existing offerings is a big decision, no matter your industry. Once you understand influencer management and how to work with influencers, you can decide if it’s the right move for your agency.
What Is Influencer Management?
Influencer management means managing influencer communications, collaborations, and client partnerships.
Influencer management aims to help your clients gain authority and recognition in your industry by using your niche’s most influential voices. After all, a post from an influencer could cause a massive spike in sales and tons of talk on social media about your client!
What type of influencer is best for your client will depend on your niche and the level of engagement your niche’s influencers typically receive. You can work with nano-influencers (less than 1k followers), micro-influencers (1k - 100k followers), macro-influencers (100k - 1mil followers), or mega-influencers (over 1mil followers).
Keep in mind that a LOT goes into influencer management, including:
- Negotiating an influencer contract and paying the contract
- Creating deliverables and talking points
- Reviewing brand assets and determining usage rights
- Monitoring all influencer posts and ensuring they follow FTC guidelines
- Shipping products to influencers
- Researching and finding influencers
- Reaching out to influencers and pitching partnerships
- Working with the influencer’s manager
- Setting up influencers with affiliate links and/or discount codes
- Deciding which platform(s) you’ll target (Instagram, TikTok, etc.)
How to Work with Influencers
There are a few different ways to work with influencers. Understanding what each of these methods involves can help you determine which strategy works best for your agency. Let’s dive into the three main influencer management strategies!
#1: Organic Influencer Seeding
Organic seeding entails gifting products to an influencer and hoping they’ll post about it and share the product with their followers. This form of influencer management is usually included in a regular retainer for product-based clients, not as an additional service.
There’s a lot of risk with organic seeding. No one’s getting paid and there’s a good chance your client’s PR box will fly under the radar — influencers receive literal tons of products every week! This is especially true for a low-cost client or if the brand doesn’t have much name recognition yet. Influencers want to talk about the free bag they received from Gucci, not the free blouse they received from Forever21.
Plus, since there’s no contract, influencers have total control over what they say about your brand — you have no input whatsoever. The influencer might:
- Talk about the product or brand negatively
- Not post or talk about it at all
- Forget to call out the product name or brand
- Call out the product or brand by the wrong name
- Fail to correctly follow FTC guidelines about disclosing gifted products
You just have to send out products and hope for the best. (Scary, I know!)
If you try this method, be transparent with your client about the risks involved. Align your client’s expectations with what’s possible. They shouldn’t throw blame your way if you send out a round of PR packages and no one posts about it.
#2: Paid Influencer Partnerships
You can also layer paid influencer partnerships into your influencer management strategy. This method takes more planning than sending products to viable influencers (and then crossing your fingers), but it gives you control over the influencer’s content.
You can give them talking points, dictate which accounts to tag and hashtags to use, and what types of content they need to make. If you do a video-based partnership, you can repurpose their content into testimonial videos that you can run as paid ads or use as social proof — just make sure you include this option in the influencer’s contract. Of course, you should always encourage them to be honest about their experience with the product!
The main hurdle with paid influencer partnerships is your client’s budget. Doing influencer management on top of PR will result in additional costs every month.
Be ready to pay for some of this out of pocket, too. If your client’s payment terms don’t align with the influencer’s preferred payment method, you may need to pay the influencer yourself and get reimbursed by your client later.
#3: White-Label Influencer Management Services
If you want to add influencer management services to your offerings but aren’t ready to embrace the workload, you could always outsource it to an influencer specialist! You can partner with an influencer management agency and get a referral fee when they work with your client. Or, you can white-label their services through your agency and charge a margin on it.
Taking on a white-labeled service might feel odd (especially if you’re used to doing everything in-house or solopreneur-ing it), but it’s worth it! Influencer management services are such a value-add for your agency. So, if you don’t have the time, energy, or headaches to spare, outsourcing the work may be your best bet.
Think of influencer partnerships as “owned” opportunities. It’s not the same as pitching, where you’re emailing contact after contact and hearing nothing back. The results are more guaranteed and you can show off these results as proven work products for your agency.
So…Is Influencer Management Worth It?
There are a lot of questions to ask yourself before incorporating influencer management into your agency, like:
- Does your client have a budget for influencer management beyond just sending out products?
- Are they ready to pay influencers to post?
- Do you have the bandwidth to add it to your agency, whether through a member of your team or a white-labeled service provider?
- Is there an option to do the front-end work (finding, researching, and reaching out to the influencers) and then tee it off to your client to execute the rest in-house?
Influencer management involves a lot of contracts, deliverables, and an exchange of money. It’s a serious amount of work on your end, both in terms of your client and the influencer.
That said, influencer management services offer a lot of value to your clients. When you’re having trouble landing organic press or don’t have many launches on the horizon, you can turn to influencers to get some buzz for your client.
Influencers have those followers for a reason — people know they’re credible, passionate, and trustworthy regarding recommendations and brand partnerships. Their word matters! So, while adding influence management services to your agency requires some careful thought and planning, there’s a good chance it could be the right decision for you.