Influencer marketing has become an increasingly vital tool for fashion and beauty brands seeking to advertise and promote new products. With a large majority of their client bases actively using social media platforms like Instagram, it’s become a no-brainer to team with influencers their consumers are already following and double-tapping.
However, this is usually easier said than done for brands, given the vast quantity of influencers at their disposal. Navigating the realm of influencer marketing can be complex: How do brands identify the right influencers to represent their campaigns? How are agencies helping them do it quickly and efficiently?
The answer is SaaS. Here’s what it is and how brands are using it to their advantage.
What does SaaS stand for?
SaaS is an acronym that stands for “software as a service.” It’s a blanket term for technology platforms that provide specialized services across a wide variety of industries. SaaS platforms in influencer marketing first became prominent in 2011 and have had a resurgence over the past few months, as new companies clamor to provide more specialized tools to better help brands. “Essentially, brands pay to license the technology from someone that is 100 percent focused on building [the technology], rather than investing in building it themselves,” explained Kaimu Lee, vp of business development and strategy at influencer network Bloglovin’.
How is SaaS used in influencer marketing?
SaaS provides an automated method for brands and agencies to identify fitting influencers to tap for campaigns. Different platforms fulfill different needs, but all allow marketers to quickly and efficiently locate influencer targets rather than scouring the web and conducting laborious research.
“We use SaaS when we are in the position of finding influencers that meet a relatively niche set of guidelines — whether that be a specific demographic, lifestyle or key moment, like being pregnant, planning to get married or buying a house,” said Colby Mancasola, vp of solutions and insights at influencer marketing agency Collectively. “It gives us the ability to search and collaborate, as well as provides the resources to reach out to influencers on behalf of the brand.”
So they’re basically discovery tools. What else can they do?
Platforms like Tribe Dynamics, a favorite of beauty brands, provide a tool that allows companies to estimate earned media value and ROI from a campaign. However, these values are largely used as merely a baseline estimate because of how subjective and difficult it is to pinpoint the impact of a campaign.
The difficulty in determining ROI is that aspirations vary dramatically by brand. “For some clients, the goal is branding and awareness; for others, they want to grow their own social channels; and for some, it is about direct attribution to sales,” said Lee. “Determining what the goals are define the type of influencers you engage, the type of content you create and the channels you launch the content on.”
How have SaaS platforms evolved over the years?
The concept of an influencer in its earliest stage was essentially an internet blogger, but the advent of social media platforms means that an influencer’s work can now span across several mediums. An Instagram influencer may not be a Snapchat influencer, and vice versa. SaaS platforms have evolved to better pinpoint these individuals.
Despite the evolution of offerings, there is still no one-stop-shop SaaS platform, according to Ryan Stern, CEO and founder of Collectively. “I see a lot of fragmentation. A lot of teams are using different tools, and I see teams that are testing various [SaaS] partners,” Stern said.
What are the limitations of using SaaS?
As the influencer market grows increasingly saturated, partnership opportunities for brands have become more specialized. However, most SaaS tools aren’t equipped to provide granular results and information that goes beyond data pulled from public-facing social media channels. For example, a company looking to work with parents may find a hard time using a SaaS program to distinguish if the individual has a 2-year-old or a 15-year-old, which are very different marketing demographics for a brand selling something like diapers, said Stern.