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VentureBeat recently published a post titled, Technology is Never the Most Important Element in Influencer Marketing, which asserts that the technology used in influencer marketing is more of a helpful bonus than a critical asset.
The author makes a valid point, that creativity, which the human element offers, can’t just be automated if you hope for a successful campaign. This point however, becomes a bit diluted by the author’s main point, which is that technology neutralizes the human element. But I strongly disagree with that.
The author is making the same argument that we saw ages ago at the onset of marketing automation, which held that automation can’t compete or coexist with creativity. The problem with this line of thought is that it assumes that scalability and creativity are mutually exclusive.
The author makes the very good point that people trust “word-of-mouth” over advertising, however that word-of-mouth often comes from social media technology platforms. The fact is, brands need the scale that technology provides in order to reach customers on social media. The technology involved in influencer marketing automation (IMA) is what enables the scale and consistency needed to reach the right consumers efficiently and effectively. In fact, scaling relationships and creativity is the very basis on which social media’s success is built.
Technology is what provides companies the ability to use influencer marketing in a cost-efficient way that can be measured and benchmarked. Without it, many companies that don’t have the sprawling resources of Google or Oracle wouldn’t be able to justify their influencer spend because they wouldn’t be able to automate distribution or measure the real impact that their influencer marketing campaigns have on consumer engagement. Getting a trusted and valuable influencer to authentically endorse your product or service is great, but without the tools to effectively distribute it at scale, it can’t bring in the revenue needed to justify it.
Another issue is that of human error, the most unfortunate but inevitable aspect of the human element. When it comes to distribution and reach, tiny mistakes can have huge business impacts, and that is why technology is so valuable in scaling influencer marketing. There will always be those who worry that any degree of automation drains a campaign of its creativity, but we can look to the likes of HubSpot or Marketo as examples of technologies that brought so much efficiencies to the email marketing process that marketers had MORE bandwidth to focus on creative and effective content. They didn’t sterilize the creative element of email marketing, they used technology tools to automate the processes that benefited the most from them. The fact is, neither company would exist, much less be as popular as they are, if they completely removed the human element. It’s technology that allows marketers to get that creative message in front of as many people as possible in a timely and affordable manner.
Additionally, a point that many might not consider is the benefits that automating this technology offers the influencers themselves. While social influencers tend to be more technically savvy than most, they are still people, and for every campaign they agree to engage with, they get about a hundred others, many of which are completely irrelevant to them. Getting bombarded with these day in and day out can can be frustrating and make them less willing to take calls or respond to emails. By providing them with technology that ensures they are matched with brands that closely align with their values, topics, life phase, rates, and audience interests, influencers receive higher quality opportunities that are a genuine match for them as well as their audiences.
There will always be a fear that any degree of automation will replace people, but it stems from the idea that automation can exist without the human element behind it. Technology is critical if businesses today want their influencer marketing to be successful. However, that doesn’t mean that its use is forcing creativity out of the process. It just means that creativity can reach more people in a shorter amount of time. It’s easy to overlook the value of technology since the creative aspect of any marketing campaign requires so much attention, but when you take an in-depth look, you find that it’s not only valuable, but crucial.
Effective technology doesn’t minimize creativity, it actually gives both the marketer and the influencer the ability to optimize it.
Holly Hamann is cofounder and CMO of TapInfluence.
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