Once you decide to run an influencer campaign for your brand there are a few big decisions right upfront. Primarily, you’ll need to decide if you are going to work directly with an influencer marketplace,  partner with a managed service provider, or run the whole thing on your own.

Running an influencer campaign on your own can be a massive undertaking, especially for brands who haven’t created and managed their own campaigns before. To run a successful campaign you’ll need access to the right Influencers and a thorough content strategy— and those are just before your campaign even starts. This is why more and more brands are soliciting the help of managed service partners for their influencer strategy. Because why do the work alone when you can hire a team of experts to get the job done for you?

→ Read more on the metrics and outcomes of a Betty Crocker family lifestyle campaign RhythmInfluence put together.

WHAT IS A MANAGED SERVICE PARTNER?

managed service partner (MSP) is an outsourced third-party company that assumes the responsibility of a defined set of day-to-day management services for its clients. There are MSPs for a variety of industries, created to accomplish any combination of tasks from IT services to payroll, to running entirely outsourced departments for companies like HR and workforce management.

Because they offer such a versatile and skilled team, utilizing an MSP is a common strategy amongst companies of any size, from large corporations to nonprofit organizations and startups. Ultimately, the purpose of engaging with an MSP is that they are able to act as an extension of your team while providing you with great value and untapped expertise, all the while aiming to help your organization scale and succeed.

MSPs are most often deployed to handle operational, non-customer-facing tasks. For brands looking to outsource their influencer marketing efforts, this is where the use of MSPs comes into play. Learning influencer marketing from scratch is quite a challenge to take on. For brands that would rather keep their focus trained on their typical daily operations, outsourcing Influencer efforts to a trusted MSP could be the difference between running a successful campaign and failing before you even give your brand a real chance to succeed.

THE BENEFITS OF USING AN MSP FOR INFLUENCER MARKETING

Working with an MSP can be as hands-on or off as you’d like it to be. You get to choose the exact services that you’d like your MSP to handle, and which ones you’d like to continue managing in-house. For an influencer campaign, this means that the creative and strategic process required to create a fulfilling campaign can be as collaborative as you choose.

Remember, just because you’re outsourcing to an MSP doesn’t mean you get to skirt accountability for the campaign. You have the choice to either sit back and relax while your MSP handles the campaign or be involved in every decision.

Customizable engagement in the influencer marketing process is just one of the benefits of partnering with an MSP, others include:

  • MSPs handle any time-consuming or repetitive work that you and your teammates are too busy to do, freeing you up to focus more on your other tasks.
  • Utilizing an MSP can increase company savings due to the ongoing monthly flat rate that most organizations pay for outsourced services because it’s easier to budget around a consistent monthly cost than a constantly changing one.
  • Hiring an MSP is oftentimes less expensive than hiring a full-time employee to do the same job, and can provide better ROI for campaigns.
  • MSPs are experts in their industries and can be trusted to show up with all of the expertise, knowledge, resources, and tools needed to create the best possible Influencer marketing campaign for your brand.
  • MSPs are familiar with all industry standards and legal regulations concerning Influencer marketing, allowing for a reduction in risks and liabilities.
  • Using an MSP will allow for greater insight into the success and pain points of your campaign, leading to better Influencer marketing decision-making for your brand moving forward.
  • Due to their experience, using an MSP for your Influencer campaign will help you stand out in a potentially crowded market.
  • With your influencer marketing efforts being outsourced, you and your in-house team are freed up to focus on your core responsibilities and big picture strategy.

THE 5 STEPS OF INFLUENCER MARKETING BY MSPS

MSPs provide end-to-end managed services that do the heavy lifting for you so as to free up critical time, resources, and technology costs for your company. Of course, there are many reasons why a company may want to hire an MSP. But when you utilize their expertise for social campaigns, they will work through these 5 steps of influencer marketing to create a campaign for your brand to remember.

1. STRATEGY & PROGRAM IDEATION

Before you reach out to an MSP, you and your team will have already formulated the “Why?” of your campaign. As talented and experienced as they may be, no MSP understands your brand as well as you do.  By communicating your goals upfront, your agency partner can create a campaign tailored to your individual needs.

As mentioned above, there are many benefits to hiring an experienced partnership team that has developed campaigns for hundreds of past activations. By having this pre-campaign conversation with your MSP you are ensuring that your campaign ideas and the content produced during the campaign itself will stay true to your brand identity and ethos. Once you hand your ideas over, it is their job to ensure your content is well received by both the Influencers repping your brand and their audiences.

2. INFLUENCER DISCOVERY, VETTING, NEGOTIATIONS & RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT

In an age where seemingly a new Influencer makes headlines each day, at first thought it could be easy to assume that connecting with an Influencer for your campaign is as easy as DMing one on Instagram. However, experienced strategists know that the process is much more involved than that, and with so many different Influencer factors to consider (the influencer tier, follower count, engagement history, etc.) without the right experience, you could be sending DMs for months without making any progress.

An agency partner not only provides years of experience in selecting the right Influencers for brands and their campaigns, they also have:

  • A great understanding of balancing the quality of content created during the campaign
  • The tools and insight required to measure authenticity in an Influencer’s follower base
  • The ability to vet Influencers for fraud
  • The knowledge base of Influencer negotiation best practices
  • A history of successfully managed Influencer-brand relationships
  • Access to the required platform technologies to streamline these processes

If a brand or ad agency media team isn’t fluid on negotiating content rights and usage terms with Influencers they have the potential to waste a lot of investment paying for things they aren’t planning on using. Or getting caught up in legal battles down the line that cost more than the initial campaign.

Working with a reputable, trusted partner puts influencer relationship management responsibilities into the hands of an experienced organization, so you aren’t left guessing about the right and wrong ways to communicate with your Influencers.

3. CONTENT CREATION WORKFLOWS & APPROVALS

This step will determine the success of your campaign. Just like how you can have the best content in the world but if your Influencer doesn’t have the right audience to consume it your campaign will be fruitless, you can be partnering with the most visible Influencers out there but if your content is bland, unnatural, or forced you’ll be unable to make an impact with your campaign.

The good news is, most MSPs bring a project management approach to the Influencer campaign management side that tracks, reports on each round of edits or approvals for many parties to follower, and ensures that all content follows FTC compliance and the parameters set for in the brand-provided brief. For any campaign, this stage has the potential to be the most time-consuming while also being the most important part to get right.

Think of your Influencer campaign as an orchestra and your MSP as the conductor that keeps everyone playing on tempo and all parties synchronized. When each instrument is perfectly tuned and in sync, the orchestra is music to your ears, but one wrong note can send the entire song (campaign!) off track.

4. CONTENT AMPLIFICATION & SOCIAL DISTRIBUTION

For inexperienced brands running influencer campaigns without the help of an experienced third-party team like an MSP, this step is the most common missed opportunity. In addition to all of the other benefits of working with MSPs, the best MSPs also bring with them a sophisticated social amplification strategy designed to help further distribute the content of the campaign both organically and via paid social posts.

Seasoned agencies and strategists know that the unique niche targeting parameters available can be very exact in terms of demographics and psychographic audience characteristics, leading to more profitable and widely seen activations. In fact, when deployed correctly, these strategic efforts can often dramatically lift a campaign’s ROI and lead to the creation of campaigns with a more lasting impact.

5. ADVANCED MEASURING & REPORTING

Every influencer campaign has two lifespans: during the campaign and after. During the campaign, the focus is on the content and the Influencer, but after the campaign itself has run its course it’s time to turn your attention to phase two: the reporting.

Depending on the specific goals of your campaign, your reporting will look a little different. Maybe you’ll be interested in taking a look at your overall campaign ROI or new contacts, or maybe you’ll take the sentiment analysis approach, looking closely at brand lift.

Regardless of what you hoped to achieve through your campaign, your MSP will come equipped with the software you need to generate accurate reports on every facet of your campaign from the view count on each piece of content to the differences in monetary success of your organic and paid content.

The key in this step is not that the reporting has been done, that’s a given. The key is how you analyze the reports you are given and use the information gained to influence your future decisions. Through your report analysis, you’ll find all of the strengths of your campaign as well as the areas that could be improved upon. Regardless of the exact information gained, use this collected data when making decisions on everything during future campaigns from the Influencers you choose to work with to the time of day you are posting content. There isn’t an aspect of your Influencer campaign that can’t be optimized.

Now that you’ve decided to partner with an influencer marketing agency, it’s time to start brainstorming content ideas. To get you started, here is our Guide to Social Content Strategy in 2021.

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