Influencer marketing is a hot rod right now. Not only has it become part of the standard strategic media mix for big brands, influencer marketing is oftentimes one of the first tactics newer brand marketers try out if advertising budgets are somewhat limited. If you’re new to influencer marketing or need to hit the ground running, outsourcing is the best way to go. Few companies have a dedicated in-house team, many look to platforms and agencies for specialized resources and seasoned expertise.


Influencer agency vs in-house

Agency counterparts are an extension of the brand team. Tapping into an influencer agency means a brand provides the agency with the budget and educates them on their brand identity, marketing objectives, customer knowledge and content needs while the agency drives the influencer relationships, runs the influencer strategy and reports the results. The differences between agencies and in-house teams?

Agencies often focus on both sides of influencer marketing, acting both as an agency for companies wanting to engage in influencer marketing as well as a ‘manager’ for influencers, as once the relationship is established, agencies are the segue to sponsored opportunities with different brands. A survey conducted by GameInfluencer found that influencers with nearly 1M followers only accept 4% of business inquiries a month. Without an agency’s direct line of communication, the brand may not be able to get their business proposal through. Agency connections are invaluable to the brand, especially when it comes to the celebrity-status influencers who often have managing representation working on their behalf.

Agencies are a source of creative, strategic, and legal direction. Having worked with a plethora of brands across multiple verticals and numerous campaigns at the same time. They have the historical data and insight into what works - and what doesn’t. Many brands don’t have the leeway for so much trial and error. Working with an influencer agency takes out the guesswork.

Agencies are unbiased in evaluating influencers both qualitatively and quantitatively, and can identify the happy balance of brand fit as well as performance potential. In terms of creative, agencies are experienced in helping influencers cultivate the right content that will authentically speak to the audience as well as deliver on campaign metrics. Also, agencies execute the full campaign legwork from beginning to end while complying to the FTC’s influencer marketing regulations. Their experience in the legal realm of influencer marketing helps protect brand marketers from potentially risky situations.

Lastly, agencies are very much attuned to the latest social trends, platform tools, video content styles, and influencer costs. These factors are often changing in the social marketing landscape. In-house teams may have to overcome a learning curve if there is no existing internal expert. They may not have the bandwidth to manage a fully-fledged influencer program, nonetheless multiple concurrent ones. Therefore, established influencer agencies can most immediately better meet the desires and needs of both parties they are working with.


Influencer Agency vs platform/database

When it comes to influencer sourcing, management and measurement at scale, the process can be very time-consuming, and it should be - to a degree! Your influencer partners and their social history need to be carefully and personally vetted as they will be extensions of the brand and the brand’s core values. Many brands’ in-house content or social teams utilize influencer platforms to help manage and ‘scale’ their influencer campaigns. While automated technology meant to streamline the end-to-end process can sometimes better search for influencers based on quantitative KPIs and demographic parameters, and even to some degree on content quality and brand affinity, these influencer platforms cannot gauge saturation rate, identify inappropriate language/imagery/press, and assess the professionalism and experience of the influencers (Are they better suited for campaign work or live events or product gifting? Are they creatively consistent? Are they easy to work with?). While AI can simplify and speed up processes, it cannot replace human input.

Brand marketers can also take a hybrid approach, with both an agency and a dashboard or database, but influencers require significant human to human interaction, even on the digital marketing backend. Influencer agency teams are in the trenches, measuring not only the organic but also optimizing the paid strategy. What influencer content did well organically versus through paid media and why? Why did one influencer cost more to boost over another? Agencies are able to provide deeper analytics than influencer platforms, including tailored campaign performance reports. Nowadays, as advanced as social media has become, influencer marketing needs to be data-driven, first and foremost.

Ultimately, the most important factor to consider is if you want your influencer partners to be selected and handled by a cost-efficient platform, or a more experienced and relationship-based collaboration. To manage a fully-fledged scaled up influencer campaign, brands often go to agencies to develop complex strategies and establish enduring partnerships with multiple influencer tiers across different social channels. The best influencer agencies can ultimately customize and optimize multi-channel campaigns in real time, and also handle the different situations and variables that may arise through human error. Influencer marketing is not traditional advertising, influencer marketing is about working with real people.