Over-Automation: How Smarter Marketing Isn’t Always Smarter Marketing
Influencer marketing has evolved and diversified remarkably since its humble beginnings, less than a decade ago. In its early days, when social media platforms were also during their kindergarten years, influencer marketing was seen as the new kid on the block who almost no one wanted to play with. Media specialists, marketing gurus and big players in the advertising world didn’t see influencer marketing’s full potential. And it’s no wonder: there were no tangible results, people had no idea what an influencer is, there were not many companies who wanted to spend money on uncertain marketing strategies, and consumers were somewhat oblivious to this whole new concept.
What’s more, most marketing agencies considered influencer marketing as too complicated, labor-intensive, and time-consuming when compared to traditional marketing strategies. Finding suitable influencers, creating content and setting up campaigns were challenges most agencies were reluctant (and some still are) to take on.
Luckily, just like any other industries, influencer marketing evolved and is now embraced by almost all companies that want to create a powerful brand image and expand their market. The impressive ROIs that influencer marketing guarantees continue to attract more and more brands into the game, together with important social media figures, bloggers, and internet personalities.
As the industry matured, a whole new set of ways to tackle the delicate, time-consuming and labor-intensive aspects of the business emerged. Automation tools, for instance, provided a much-needed help to the hundreds of agencies and companies who wanted to dabble into this highly profitable marketing strategy. For instance, these automation tools, known as influencer marketplaces, helped companies and agencies find suitable influencers for their campaigns easier than ever. This was a huge step forward for the industry, considering that almost 75 percent of companies struggled to find good influencers. Moreover, influencer marketplaces have attracted a number of outside investors — a recent injection of $14 million from a US-based private investor only shows us the true potential of this marketing sector. Also, the matching algorithms for these marketplaces is continuously upgraded and adapted to meet the current needs, provide trustworthy analytics and measurement tools.
Is automation the answer?
Every business sector or industry welcomes automation as a blessing. After all, reducing labor costs and getting faster results is what business is all about. Influencer marketplaces allow businesses to use vast data platforms and software that automatically connects a product to a relevant influencer, and in turn, provides him with a guideline for action. For instance, it’s not uncommon for an agency to offer a client hundreds of possible influencers to choose from, pre-written scripts, photos, banners, and even commercial songs. The client (the company) simply has to pinpoint which influencer is better for their product, how much it costs, what social channels to use, and the campaign can start as soon as possible. But, in certain sectors, too much automation can become problematic. This automation addiction makes us lazy, careless and apathetic, all widely regarded as detrimental attitudes in the business world. The same goes for influencer marketing as well: automation is great and can do wonders, but only up to a point.
So when does automation become problematic?
In short, automation becomes an issue in this industry when it is undermining the base concept of influencer marketing, which is building strong relationships. When technology comes in the way of two entities who want to develop a relationship, the whole concept of the relationship becomes deficient. Unfortunately, many agencies, typically larger ones, use automation more and more when it comes to influencer marketing, to an extent that diminishes the effectiveness of the campaign.
There is a flurry of recent startups which guarantee companies that they can connect them with powerful influencers to promote their brand, product and services. While this surge is extremely positive, there are some new players which rely solely on these automated to connect with influencers. This makes the core concept of building relationships faulty, as human involvement is erroneously seen as a waste in the face of whatever tools they’ve found to automate their marketing.
This strategy, although fast and somewhat cost effective, is terribly risky for companies. According to veteran marketing specialists, it can lead to subpar ad executions, poor banner designs, awkward slogans, and irrelevant sales pitches. Massive automation in influencer marketing can lead to another serious problem: poor targeting. Finding suitable influencers is one of the basic concepts of influencer marketing because they are the most important sources of targeted traffic. And when automation takes over, targeting goes down. Some automated campaigns, depending on the product, can be effective even if the target crowd is a little off, but those instances are rare. In almost all business sectors, the target audience is critical — you need to get your product or service in front of the right crowd. There’s no other way around this.
Another downside to excessive automation, is a lack of communication between partners. Excellent communication, feedback, and Q/A sessions between partners are key concepts in influencer marketing. When automation goes too far, a communication breakdown may appear, making the transfer of ideas and results highly deficient. For instance, slogans can be misunderstood, word plays may not reach their full potential and the whole brand image might be poorly understood by the influencer. Poor communication, in some cases, can lead to disastrous marketing campaigns which may damage a company’s reputation permanently.
Anything that reduces labor costs and hastens production is great, but it’s critical to understand when automation can replace people and when it’s true value is to augment the efforts of the team. People are what drives influencer marketing and automation should only be a helper to the creative crew, much like a set of state-of-the-art power tools for a crafty carpenter. You can’t replace a carpenter with a set of power tools, and the same goes for influencer marketing: the people in the creative department are fundamental for the success of every campaign.
One of the biggest benefits of automation is that it frees up time and workload to focus on what’s really important in a marketing campaign: the creativity. Thanks to automation, time-consuming administrative tasks can be done in mere minutes, allowing creatives plenty of time to tackle important aspects: creating content, slogans, banner designs, selecting influencers and monitoring results.
It’s not an excuse to take your foot off the gas or cut costs for the sake of cutting costs — it’s an opportunity to allocate your labor hours towards optimizing the engagement garnered from your efforts by freeing up your team to do what marketing has always been about: building strong relationships. Click here to read more about how to make sure your influencer marketing efforts are as productive as they should be.