What’s one of the biggest challenges brands face when launching an influencer marketing campaign? What’s the biggest barrier to getting started with influencer marketing in the first place? If you’re like many companies, the answer might be “finding influencers.” And the solution is often an Influencer Marketing Network.

A study from 2015 found 75 percent of respondents cited finding influencers the biggest roadblock to launching an influencer campaign. Finding the right influencer can seem like searching for true love or a soul mate (i.e., nearly impossible). But, there is a way to streamline and simplify the process: use an influencer marketing network.

A Close Look at Influencer Marketing Networks

What is an influencer marketing network? It can actually take several forms, some of which are more useful for marketers than others. Some influencer networks are little more than databases, which list the details and stats of every possible influence online.

Others are actual networks that influencers opt into. That means that the influencers you come across on those influencer networks are in the process of looking for partnerships. If they think your brand is a good fit, and you think they are a good fit for your brand, you’re able to use the network’s platform to connect with the influencers and get your campaign underway.

Some influencer networks narrow down their selection of influencers even further. For example, some might only be open to micro-influencers. Micro-influencers usually have a relatively small following (less than 100K). But, they tend to have a considerable amount of reach and engagement in a certain subject area. Other influencer networks might only be open to influencers who specialize in certain niches, such as fashion or gaming.

Why Use an Influencer Marketing Network?

A big reason to use an influencer marketing network is it can save you a lot of time and hassle. Worldwide, there were nearly 2.5 billion social media accounts at the end of 2017. Imagine trying to sort through all those accounts to find an influencer. You want one speaks to your target audience. And you want one with the right number of followers and sufficient reach. Perhaps most importantly, you want one who posts about things that are relevant to your brand.

Another reason to use influencer marketing networks is that someone else has already crunched the numbers for you. While networks do vary in terms of quality and the information they provide to brands, the best ones give you all the stats you could possibly want to know about an influencer, before you have to make contact.

For example, you might find an influencer with what looks to be a large following after doing a Google search. But to learn more about that influencer, you’d have to start following him or her to get a sense of the number of likes or comments he or she gets, and to gauge his or her response to and interaction with followers. You’d have to contact the influencer directly to learn more about any campaigns he or she has worked on.

High-quality influencer networks put that data right at your fingertips. Some networks also provide a detailed profile of each creator, so that you can get to who the influencers really are, behind the data.

5 Things to Look for in an Influencer Marketing Network

There are plenty of influencer marketing networks and software platforms out there. And, to be honest, some are a lot better than others. When choosing a network to try out, it’s important to know your brand first. Who are you trying to reach with your influencer marketing? What is your product or niche? What do you want to gain from your influencer marketing?

Once you have the answers to those questions, you can use the following criteria to find the right network for you.

1.) The number of influencers on the network.

While influencer marketing networks usually helps to narrow down the selection of influencers out there, you still want to have some selection. Some influencer networks have a very small pool of influencers, while others offer more than half a million.

2.) The subject matter of the network.

If you are focused on a specific niche, working with an influencer network that’s devoted to that niche (such as beauty, fashion, or travel) might make sense for you. But if your niche is very specific or narrow, or you want a broader selection, it might be better to find an influencer network that doesn’t limit itself to just one subject.

3.) The type of influencers available.

Do you want to work with celebrity influencers, micro-influencers, or macro-influencers? Perhaps you want a mix of all types of influencers to maximize the reach of your campaign.

The types of influencers available on a network might also depend on your budget. For example, if you have a lot to spend, you might be able to afford the higher prices often charged by celebrity or big-name influencers. Brands with smaller budgets might need to focus on working with micro-influencers, at least at first. Choosing a network that has a mix of influencer types means that you’ll be able to stick with that network as your needs or budget change.

4.) The amount of data and information the network provides.

How much information a network provides you about its influencers can determine whether it’s a good fit for your brand or not. Usually, the more information you can get from using the influencer network (compared to doing that research on your own), the better.

5.) The other options the network offers.

Sometimes, an influencer marketing network is just that — a platform where you can find influencers. But some networks are part of larger platforms and give you the option of carrying out all aspects of an influencer marketing campaign on them. If you’re going to want to use other features, such as contacting and negotiating with your influencers, or measuring and tracking the results of the campaign, it can be helpful to see what each platform or network has to offer.

How to Start Using an Influencer Marketing Network

You’re convinced that using an influencer marketing network will help your brand find influencers more easily, and streamline your influencer marketing process. So what’s the next step?

It’s a good idea to ask one or more companies that manage influencer marketing networks for a demonstration before you commit to one. You want to make sure that the selection of influencers available is a match for your brand’s needs. Plus, you want to make sure that you’re able to use the platform with ease, and that it meets any other needs you might have.

It can also be worth it to examine the network’s ability to scale and grow with your brand. You’re using influencer marketing to help your company grow. It only makes sense that the network you work with will be able to grow with you.

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