Unboxing Influencers: The Risks and Problems When Recruiting

Trust me, I'm an influencer!

In today’s digital era, influencer marketing has emerged as a powerful tool for brands to connect with their target audiences authentically and organically. With the rise of social media platforms, influencers have become a driving force in shaping consumer behaviour and impacting purchase decisions. Behind the scenes, brands and agencies face a myriad of challenges when it comes to the influencer recruitment process – and it all starts with finding the right influencer that can be trusted to deliver. But how? Well, manually.

It’s a tedious task. Whether it is a small team or organized department, someone must go through enquiry form applications, research influencer platforms or worse – manually search for influencers themselves. Sifting through hundreds of profiles for hours, finding a strong influencer for a campaign and then discovering a red flag just before (or even after) a campaign goes live is incredibly embarrassing, frustrating and costly. Unfortunately, this is the reality for those of us that work in the world of influencer marketing, especially with the increasing use of nano, micro and mid-tier influencers.

To help highlight the everyday challenges for those recruiting influencers, a number of the top influencer marketing agencies in the UK volunteered their insights:

  1. The teams tasked with going through text and social video content across the main social media platforms are incredibly busy and have little time. The volume of data to be searched, technology limitations and short campaign timeframes leads to the prioritising of quantity over quality. This in turn means that in the majority of cases, there is a lack of confidence in the trust and safety of the influencer being recruited.
  2. Most agencies only listen to an influencer’s last 3 months of social video content. Whilst they go further back to look at written content and popularity trending, it is too time consuming to look back at everything an influencer has ever said across the primary social video platforms – TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. With a number of agencies this has led to the very late discovery of influencer videos where the nature of the content led to campaign delays, unnecessary shoot costs and in one case a campaign cancellation. This problem will only grow as an influencer’s back catalogue gets larger and larger.

At an operational level, the problems are all about manpower, inefficiencies, risk management and confidence. The cloud that constantly hangs in the air is the potential damage to the success of a campaign and the resultant fracturing of the relationship with the client.

For the leaders of the agency these tactical issues lead to wider business growth problems. The three key findings were:

  1. The ability to scale the business, manage more campaigns and take on more clients is being compromised because of the amount of time spent on influencer identification and background checks.
  2. Staff retention is an issue because of the repetitive and mundane processes involved in influencer recruitment. For the younger profile, working in an agency the world of influencer marketing isn’t as glamorous as they thought it would be. For the business leader, losing staff and the time taken training new staff is slowing down the ability to grow.
  3. Brands are obsessed by which influencers are representing them and whether they can be trusted to deliver. However, for the agencies it’s difficult to win new clients (or even keep the existing ones) if you can’t prove that you are faster, more efficient and can be trusted to recruit the right influencers for each and every campaign. Most importantly, it’s difficult to give the client absolute certainty that there will be no surprises with an influencer’s history that could cause damage to their brand.

So, what is the solution to all our problems? Well, it’s not just one thing. However, the overriding conclusion from all the feedback is that those responsible for influencer identification, outreach, vetting and recruitment need technology that helps them be better, faster and more efficient at their job. Everyone that took part in this research wants to have absolute confidence in the influencers they recruit. However, to achieve this, the searching, the listening, the checking of voice content for potential issues and concise reporting needs to be automated. It just isn’t possible otherwise.

In the fast-paced world of social media, we must be smart about how and where we invest our time. Is it wise to be spending so much time doing influencer background checks? If we aren’t spending the time, then are we sure we can ensure trust with the client?

Acknowledging that although essential, these checks are currently full of risks, and the time should instead be invested in finding the technical capability to get inside video at scale and to analyse an influencer’s full back catalogue of social videos. Only then will recruiting teams within agencies and brands have a solution to solve these problems.

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