Automation is what is meant to make our lives and jobs easier. But there is a lot of evidence saying that in the case of influencer marketing automation may make it worse, reducing the benefits of this marketing channel to almost nothing. So what’s the point of trying to automate even some parts of it, then? We have to learn from others’ mistakes, right?
But when your cup of marketing channels is already full and spilling, you need to delegate and, in the end, establish a whole new influencer marketing department. Or you may turn to an agency instead. And what do they do to be more efficient? Businesses, including agencies, strive to earn more while spending less. So automation comes to mind. But then again, it has proven to be worthless so many times…
The point is to find the balance between what’s automated and what has to be still borne on human shoulders. So, let’s see what are the pros of automating wisely and what are the cons of doing it the wrong way.
What is influencer marketing automation?
First, we have to define automation. To put it simply, automation means using software to manage influencer marketing efforts. It may be a stack of technologies or an all-in-one platform. Automation is used to fasten the working processes, save time, and entrust repetitive tasks to a robot or an AI instead of a human employee. Ideally, automation saves those human employees from monkey work and helps scale their creative efforts and improves actual marketing skills.
Now, let’s see what’s wrong and right with this idea.
Emails and even messages on social media can be automated: with this, you don’t need to write a separate letter to each creator you want to engage in your ad campaign. You just have to make a template once and press the launch button. And yes, it saves a lot of time.
But nobody likes getting template emails and any kind of robotic messages that are not customised at all. Automation, even when handled by a strong professional, leaves not so much space for imagination and customisation. It’s easy to differentiate an automatic letter from one written entirely by hand.
The main con, or better say the mistake, of overall influencer marketing automation, is the attempt to automate communications and build relationships. Influencers and even their agents who may manage their advertising offers are legible, just like most people are, when it comes to building a relationship with others. And you don’t want to build a relationship with a robot. Therefore, starting with a message that is written by some kind of AI is not a wise step. Influencers appreciate the individual approach, and who doesn’t?
One-fits-all tech task
Having an automatically generated/compiled technical task for all the creators who agreed to participate in your influencer marketing campaign is very convenient. It’s even more convenient when you have identical strict rules for all of them in the task. When there are 10, 50, or 100 creators, it really takes time to customise the tech task for each of them, so automation really saves you here.
Now let’s take, say, a few YouTubers from one niche – let it be gaming. They all play the same games and have similar audiences. What if they make the same advertisement? It will lack its own creative style which is part of why subscribers love them and actually perceive the ads they create.
Automatically generated briefs for all the influencers engaged in a campaign lead to this: conveyor production of identical ads that don’t work like they were supposed to. It leads to what makes the whole (automated) influencer marketing campaign inefficient: the ROI drops. Moreover, creators with different styles and approaches may need completely individualised tech tasks as their creative formats are just not the same as those of the others. And, of course, creators from different platforms (YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Twitch, etc.) make different types of content. This is another thing to consider when creating tech tasks, even if all the selected creators from different platforms participate in one campaign.
When you lay your hands on software that has tens and maybe even hundreds of tools in it, it’s only natural to try them all. And it’s only logical to wish to put all the tools to use at once. You have paid for them after all, so why refuse to use some of them? It feels like wasting money.
The issue here is that many of those tools may not be really useful in your case. Do you have an established workflow for managing your influencer marketing campaigns where all the stages are clearly defined and useful? This is great. Automating it with a campaign management tool will help you reduce the time spent completing each of the stages. Or it can even help you see that some of the stages are not really necessary anymore and get rid of them to make the entire workflow more efficient.
But the tool can also allow you to add some stages you didn’t think of previously, making the workflow more complicated. Implementation of new processes may become an issue that slows down your work and even makes it more difficult instead of taking some weight off your shoulders.
There’s a fine line: automation tools may really highlight some management techniques and steps you might not have been aware of, and on the other hand, the steps may be designed for purposes you don’t really have. In the latter case, using them will only increase the time spent on management and make your employees frustrated. It’s about being greedy, not reasonable. And it’s quite easy to see when you hear your team complaining and being dissatisfied. This means you’re over-automating: if an automated process slows you down, you either don’t automate it properly or simply don’t need it at all. Even if the influencer marketing platform you paid for suggests it as an option.
Influencer search boost
To discover relevant influencers, a marketer may spend hours and even days. Even the first stage of the search where you have to only get quite rough lists of influencers to choose from may require a lot of resources. It gets worse when you have to surf a few social media platforms and create several lists.
Moreover, organic search may not be so reliable if you’re not a native in the niche where you’re searching for influencers that 1) are really good and 2) fit your requirements. No one can have a PhD in every content niche on each platform. According to the research, there are between 3.2M and 37.8M influencers on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok (the number varies depending on how exactly you count them). No one can know them all.
Here’s where automation really saves you: smart filters help weed out all the most irrelevant influencers. No long hours surfing the platforms: only one search page and the data breakdowns customised according to your requirements. With this, you get lists of influencers to select from in a minute, or even less. What’s also nice to have is a set of recommendations: some influencer discovery platforms suggest to you influencers that are just like those of your choice and with similar audiences and content based on the analytics by AI.
Influencer reliability and performance check
There are several metrics that show whether an influencer is fake, buys followers and likes, and how their content and account perform. It is based on these metrics that marketers make a choice in favour of one or another creator and make a forecast for a campaign’s success and ROI. Average engagement rate, the CPM that usually defines the price, median comments to views and likes to views ratios… All of them can be calculated manually. But you can imagine how long it takes to do it for hundreds of creators who may potentially become your allies in the upcoming ad campaign.
When the calculations are automated, the entire picture of the job becomes a lot more cheerful. In the end, marketing managers are not monkey calculators, so it’s one of the primary benefits of using automation software – to prevent them from becoming ones. Influencer marketing platforms provide you with data pre-calculated, which saves you even more time.
Instant accurate reports
Any business relies on data and any ad campaign may need adjustments according to how each of the engaged influencers performs. Having these two facts, we see that to lead the campaign to a happy ending, you have to keep your finger on the pulse. This means it’s vital to see intermediate results, and even more – to monitor the ongoing campaign in real-time.
What takes time here is report writing. That, in its turn, also requires lots of calculations. You can already see what can and should be automated here. It’s simple: the reports that take no time to be written are the reports made by AI that use the data that is also calculated by AI. Another benefit here is that AI doesn’t make calculation mistakes that may be caused by the human factor.
To automate, or not to automate?
It’s not even a question: automation is what has to be done in terms of influencer marketing. If you want to be up to date, scale your efforts, and really get the maximum out of this marketing channel, of course.
But it has to be done wisely. Be reasonable, find the platform that really fits your needs, and don’t try to automate what has to be done by real people who use not only their intellect but also empathy and creativity.