Imagine a world where humans have to do everything themselves. Milk needs to be hand poured into bottles at a processing plant, and then the bottles need to be closed and sealed by hand. Postal workers need to sort through every piece of mail by hand, making sure it gets to the right destination. In a warehouse, workers need to travel up and down hundreds of aisles, trying to track down the exact item a customer has ordered.
Automation is “the creation and application of technology to monitor and control the production and delivery of products and services.” It’s thanks to automation that milk gets poured into bottles by machines, that humans don’t have to hand-sort the mail, and that robots can find and locate items in a warehouse with ease.
Thanks to automation, the modern world moves a lot more quickly and efficiently. Automated processed have also helped to cut costs and improve revenue. When milk gets bottled more quickly, dairy farmers can sell more of it.
Automation also comes in handy during an influencer marketing campaign. Influencer marketing automation typically involves the use of a software program or platform. The platform manages tasks that a person might have previously had to do by hand, such as search for influencers or make sure every influencer working on a campaign is paid the proper amount.
Although influencer marketing automation has its benefits — namely improving efficiency and lowering costs — it’s not without its detractors. An op-ed on Forbes.com cautioned that influencer marketing automation could very well ruin influencer marketing.
The trick to successfully automating your influencer marketing is to keep in mind the golden rule of automation: Let the machines do the heavy lifting, but remember that at the end of the day, a human touch is what’s going to help your brand and campaign maintain its authenticity.
How Can You Automate Influencer Marketing?
According to TapInfluence’s guide to influencer marketing automation, there are five areas of influencer marketing that can be automated, ultimately lowering the risks involved in influencer marketing, as well as the costs and time required.
- Influencer selection. Influencer selection might seem like one area of influencer marketing where you wouldn’t want to hand the reins over to automation, but automating at least part of it can reduce the hassle of finding the right influencers. For example, you can use an influencer marketing software program to identify all influencers who meet specific criteria. Once you have a filtered list of influencers, you can do further research by hand and make the initial contact directly.
- Influencer recruitment. Automating influencer recruitment means automating some or all of the process of on-boarding the influencers your brand wants to work with. Recruitment automation can also involve setting up automatic payments when an influencer completes a project.
- Workflow. Automating your influencer marketing workflow means that you know how projects are progressing, when they are due, and what’s next. Automating the workflow might involve a schedule or calendar that automatically sends out assignments or that automatically reminds team members of due dates or sends out messages when a project is past due.
- Analytics. You can track the results of a campaign by hand, checking each post to see how many likes and comments it has received. But it’s much easier to automate the process. Automating analytics also gives you the opportunity to compare and analyze your results by presenting you with all the relevant metrics in one location.
- Distribution. Automating distribution not only involves a plan for automatically sharing and sending out influencer content, but it also allows you to see where and when content performs best so you can set up a distribution plan to make the most of that information.
Why Are Brands Using Influencer Marketing Automation?
According to the 2018 State of the Creator Economy study, 70 percent of surveyed brands are using influencer marketing. It’s likely that many of those companies are also using some sort of software or automation program as part of their campaigns.
Although critics claim that there’s a risk of losing authenticity when influencer marketing is automated, for the most part, the benefits of automation outweigh the disadvantages. As long as your brand isn’t completely relying on a software program to find and choose an influencer for you — as long as someone is there to make sure the influencer is legit and genuinely interested in your company — then using automation to find influencers can save you a lot of time.
Influencer marketing automation can also cut costs. Hiring people to track metrics and develop a plan for distribution and promotion is expensive. There’s also the cost of time. It takes a person hours to sort through lists of influencers to find a few who match your criteria, while an automated program can complete the task in a few seconds.
Another benefit of influencer marketing automation programs is that they can grow and scale with your company. Managing one influencer might be easy enough for a marketing team, but managing hundreds or thousands of influencers is going to be a headache. But an automated program doesn’t care if you can count your influencers on one hand or if your influencer army numbers into the thousands.
What Tools Are Available for Influencer Marketing Automation?
When it comes to finding influencer marketing automation programs, you can look for uni-tasker programs that do one thing or comprehensive programs that do it all. It all depends on your needs and what you’d like to automate. If you already have a team of influencers on board, then you might choose a tool that focuses on optimizing content distribution or an analytics tool that measures web traffic, social shares, and other metrics.
How to Find the Right Influencer Marketing Automation Program
The tricky thing about finding an influencer marketing automation program is that there’s a lot of variation when it comes to quality. Some so-called software programs are little more than dressed up Excel spreadsheets, as an article in the “Wall Street Journal” warns. They might give you the names of some influencers and their contact information, but they aren’t much more helpful than a Google search.
When you’re looking for the right automation program, it’s a good idea to first write down what you want from your program. Do you need to find influencers and onboard them? Are you looking for a way to streamline the workflow process? Do you need help with everything?
It’s also a good idea to try a program before you buy it. You don’t want to invest time and money into an “automation” program that’s anything but. When trying out the program, learn more about the company that makes it and the type of support it provides in case you run into issues down the road.
Adding an automation program to your influencer marketing projects means that you can focus on what matters most — working with the right influencers to create campaigns that engage and inspire your target audience.