The rise of influencer marketing has given way to an abundance of tools for marketers to leverage. In 2021 alone, the influencer marketing industry raised over $800M in funding to create new and innovative technologies to manage relationships and measure impact. As long as social media continues to be a hub for word of mouth, I predict this trend will continue to increase as tech giants and garage start-ups look to create more innovative offerings. However, finding the right mix of tools can be tricky, especially with the number of offerings to select from.

The key is to start with your goal. What are you looking to achieve from your influencer marketing programme? If you said increased sales, then you landed in the right place.

How existing influencer tech stacks-up

Marketers have plenty of options to select from for their influencer programmes. In the US, the number of companies offering influencer services grew from 4,800 in 2019 to 7,300 in 2021. The most common services and platforms in an influencer marketer’s toolkit include:

Agencies and managed services: These are perfect for marketing departments looking to outsource their influencer initiatives to a group of experts.

Influencer management platforms: They provide a comprehensive tool for selecting influencers, nurturing the relationship, managing payments, and evaluating the success of the partnerships (more on that below).

Social listening platforms: These can allow marketers to view viral topics, and the conversations being had on social relevant to your brand or your competitors’.

Design tools: They are critical to both marketers and influencers alike allowing you to create custom images and graphics to fuel social campaigns.

Whether you’re part of an influencer-focused agency or in-house team, you’re likely employing one if not more of the tools or services mentioned. But even with a fully equipped arsenal of the best tech and experts in the industry, you’re likely still left wondering…

“Are we sure we partnered with the right influencer(s)?”

“How do we know if our influencer partnership(s) actually increased sales and by how much?”

The critical and often missing piece: self-declared social audience data

Audience data sourced across major social platforms is relatively new to the block, and if you haven’t heard of it before, you’re not alone. Unlike its social listening counterpart, a social audience insights platform stitches together an individual’s public and self-declared sentiments and engagements across social into one unique profile to view their interests, affinities, preferred media channels, and the influencers they engage with.

So why is this so critical for marketers? Because we finally have the ability to go beyond our CRM, social engagement metrics and demographics to truly understand our audience and the media channels and influencers they actively engage with.

Taking your influencer management and social listening platforms a step further

When you combine the powers of a management platform, social listening platform, and social audience data, you can ensure you’re managing and nurturing the right partnerships and determine the impact that partnership had on sales.

Validate existing or future partnerships

Your management platform will recommend influencers based on follower counts, engagement metrics and keywords that relate to your brand. Many times management platforms will integrate social listening tools to identify influencers based on the content they post. Using a social audience insights platform, you take an audience-first approach to influencer discovery, by identifying your audience of core customers and then viewing the influencers they already engage with.

When using these two platforms together, you can view if the partnership recommended in your management platform actually aligns with your audience. Alternatively, you can take the influencer recommended in your social audience insights platform and pitch, nurture and manage the relationship within your management platform.

Management platforms have long identified campaign ROI through promo codes and affiliate links and a few other conversion metrics. The problem? It’s not hard for promo codes to end up on sites like Rakuten and Honey, providing a murky picture of how many of the influencer’s followers actually made a purchase. When combining forces with a social audience insight platform, marketers can identify those exposed to the influencer’s content, and of that audience, who made a resulting purchase.

Social listening is a necessary tool for tracking mentions of your brand and the competition across social media. However, these tools lack the ability to provide information on who these people actually are. But when combined with a social audience insights platform, marketers can understand not only what content is resonating on social media, but also who it is resonating with.

Using your social listening platform, you can export a specific audience (whether that’s your group of followers or the individuals engaging in a specific topic) to your social audience insights platform to better understand who they are, including their interests, and affinities, etc. Alternatively, you can build an audience within your social audience insights platform and then upload it to your social listening platform to identify the conversations and topics they’re engaging with to help inform messaging and future content.

Final thoughts

If you’re not one-hundred percent certain you’re partnering with the right influencers or wish you had a more precise way of measuring the impact your partnership has on sales, it might be time to start leveraging self-declared social audience data.

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