Influencer marketing makes up a huge slice of a business' digital marketing strategy today. Whether you're on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, or even Pinterest, influencer content helps your brand stand out from the pack.
A whopping 93% of marketers use Instagram influencers in some way, and 84% of them say it’s a smart strategy.
Needless to say, influencer marketing has exploded as more brands realize they need to invest in influencers. The number of influencer marketing platforms and agencies supporting influencers has doubled in the last 2 years alone.
But how in the world do you find social media influencers, anyway?
Many brands fall flat on their faces when they try to DIY influencer marketing. You don’t have time to sift through Instagram manually. The ecosystem is way too complex today and you’ll waste a ton of time.
So, what are your options?
Traditionally, businesses hired full-service influencer agencies to handle everything.
You would get an account manager (who’s probably named Steve) and the agency handles everything for the campaign.
But guess what? You don’t have to hire an expensive agency to win at influencer marketing. Many businesses get better results at a lower cost by opting for an influencer marketing platform instead.
So, what’s better? An influencer agency or an influencer marketing platform? There are advantages to both, but this is about making the choice that works best for your business.
Let’s dive into how influencer agencies compare against influencer marketing platforms like Trend, and how you can make the best choice for your campaigns.
How does an influencer marketing agency work?
66% of brands opt for either an agency or a marketing platform to do their influencer marketing. Influencer marketing agencies specialize in influencer marketing, which is a good start.
They have a large team of experienced folks at their agency who handle everything from outreach to contract negotiations.
A good full-service influencer agency will:
Understand your brand goals.
Match you with relevant influencers who share those goals.
Match your desired demographics with the right Instagram influencer (aka find influencers that fit your target audience).
Minimize hands-on time on your end, sending performance reports along once a month.
That might sound peachy-keen, but you need to understand the pros and cons of influencer marketing agencies before hiring one for your campaign.
1 - Influencer discovery is a breeze
These agencies specialize in influencer marketing, after all. They already have pre-negotiated terms and rates with a lot of influencers, whether they're on Instagram or YouTube.
This is way better than the DIY approach, where you have to individually DM each influencer via social media for negotiations. That’s a pit of despair and wasted time that you’ll never escape.
If the agency doesn’t already have a relationship with an influencer who caters to your demographics, they’ll handle all of the negotiations for you.
2 - Less hands-on management for marketing campaigns
96% of marketers agree that you can’t fully automate influencer marketing on social media, but you sure can give someone else the workload.
If you’re a, “I don’t care how it gets done, just get it done,” sort of person, you’ll like working with an agency.
Agencies handle absolutely everything in your social media campaign. That means you spend less time managing influencer campaigns, which is always a great perk.
3 - Instagram influencer and social media experience
Influencer marketing agencies have a staff of folks backing up your campaign. Every employee is specialized enough that they can help you run focused campaigns.
Agencies can often point to past work or testimonials as proof of their quality, too.
Yes, agencies can work for some brands. But here’s the thing: they aren’t always the best option.
Influencer marketing agencies have three huge drawbacks.
1 - The price
Do you cherish your arms and legs? Well, that’s too bad, because the influencer marketing agency is going to charge you for both of them.
Seriously. Agencies cost a lot of money.
They have enormous overhead to pay all of their employees, and that means they pass that cost right to you.
Not to mention the fact that you have to pay a retainer with an agency. You’re on the hook for the agency’s services as well as Instagram influencer fees.
On average, you can expect to pay a minimum of $4,000 a month when you hire a marketing agency.
The dollar signs add up quickly here, and the costs are rarely stable enough to help you budget long-term, anyway.
2 - Less control
It sounds glamorous to pass your influencer marketing off to an agency, but you’re giving up several degrees of control here.
Want a report on last week’s metrics? You can’t pull that report; you need to email your good pal Steve to get it.
And Steve will probably make you wait 48 hours before sending over that report because he’s busy serving other businesses.
Influencer marketing agencies are gatekeepers to critical information for your company.
If you need quick information, you have to go through several hoops to get it, limiting your freedom and control over your marketing campaigns.
3 - Influencer relationships
While some influencer marketing agencies have existing influencer relationships, many of them don’t. That means they’re no better off than you are!
But don’t worry: the agency will charge you for every blessed hour they spend hunting down influencers manually.
How can influencer marketing platforms help my company?
If you value your budget, want to scale, and need more control over your influencer marketing campaign, choose an influencer marketing platform like Trend.
And no, this isn’t like the spammy influencer databases you might have stumbled upon.
Influencer marketing platforms take all the great things about agencies and automate them for bigger time and cost savings.
Here’s why your company stands to win with an influencer marketing platform instead of an agency.
1 - It’s affordable
Influencer marketing platforms like Trend are way cheaper than an agency—and we get results that are equal to or better than agencies.
Why is an influencer marketing platform so affordable? It comes down to:
Automation: We automate nagging tasks that machines do better and faster than humans.
Fewer humans: Human labor is expensive. Trend minimizes staffing bloat to keep our costs nice ‘n’ low so you see more results from your social media efforts.
Better pricing structure: Trend charges flat, predictable fees and negotiates all influencer costs ahead of time.
Pay for what you need and not a cent more with an influencer marketing platform.
2 - Hit the ground running
Unless your influencer agency has existing influencer relationships, they’ll need to spend time researching influencers, anyway.
That means you’re left twiddling your thumbs for a week. That’s not our style.
Trend matches you with high-quality influencers more quickly with our existing influencer marketing platform, sourcing trusted content creators with dedicated followings on Instagram.
We have personal relationships with every influencer on our invite-only platform, too, so you can rest assured that these folks are ready to support your influencer marketing campaign.
3 - You’re in the driver’s seat
Not a fan of waiting two days for a simple report? We aren’t, either.
Influencer marketing platforms give you more control. That gives you the power to:
Communicate directly with Instagram influencers. No middle-man required.
Get better metrics and data at your fingertips, when you need it.
Track ROI in one simple interface.
Influencer marketing platforms are a great way to save money, act fast, and maintain control.
Even then, there are a lot of influencer platforms on the market. Choose the platform that works best for your biz.
Influencers are a critical part of advertising your business in a natural, non-spammy way on social media like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram.
Outsource the heavy lifting for influencer marketing campaigns to an influencer platform.
Sure, there are some advantages to an influencer marketing agency, but platforms like Trend are still the most effective way to execute influencer marketing campaigns at scale.
Put yourself in the driver’s seat. Access your campaign data whenever you need it, automate tedious tasks, and save more budget dollars with Trend.
Oh, and Trend has another advantage over agencies: you can give us a test drive. Sign up now for free!