Unless you are an incredibly well-connected Solopreneur who is making a killing and maybe even turning business away, social media will play a role in your branding and marketing strategies. Each platform has its cohort of devoted users and will be a good fit for some businesses, but maybe less so for others.
The platforms are free of charge, aside from the time it costs to keep your content up-to-date. No matter how responsive to social media marketing your venture is, time will not allow most Solopreneurs and business owners to maintain a presence on all platforms, unless social media management is outsourced. If the ROI positively impacts sales revenues, then the investment will be worthwhile. Let’s take a look at Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
The most popular social media platform has 2.19 billion users (Statista, 1Q 2018) around the world. There are somewhat more female users than male and the bulk of the age demographic is 18-44 years. Forbes Magazine data indicates that 47% of Americans report that Facebook is their primary influencer when it comes to making purchases.
Facebook often delivers excellent ROI for B2C enterprises (somewhat less for B2B). In-store events and promotions, speaking engagements, your workshops and other events can be announced to Facebook Friends. Content provided in text, photos, or video can be uploaded. You can create groups and build communities, or post a customer survey. Share behind-the-scenes information about your business and what it takes to do what you do and in the process, you’ll engage customers, strengthen your brand and build relationships.
Does that sound like too much work and too much sharing? Then create a Fan Page and limit your presence to basic info and a good call to action. Be aware that your presentation of text, photos and other content should be relaxed and welcoming, to create a personal feel (but remember that business is the context).
You’ll find 1 billion users (Statista, June 2018) from around the world and 80% are outside of the U.S. 95 million posts are shared daily, with many accessed on a mobile device. Approximately 59% of U.S. users are 18-29 years. As of 1Q 2018, there are 300 million daily Instagram Stories users and 30% of users have purchased a product.
Visual storytelling, behind-the-scenes photo montages, social selling, brand awareness, engaging with customers and creating relationships are good uses of Instagram. If you are in public relations or special event/conference planning, then you will find worthwhile B2B use, otherwise it’s B2C as far as I can tell.
Photo sharing, brief video trailers and concise text postings that include a hashtag # to better distribute your content are ideal content. Add a link to your profile bio. Decide if you want a public or members-only account. Links cannot be shared.
Considered the gold standard B2B social media platform, LinkedIn has 500 million members globally (Statista, January 2018). Business ventures large and small, Solopreneurs, corporate and nonprofit leaders, physicians and dentists, any employee who harbors professional aspirations and most college students maintain a profile page. Recruiters use LinkedIn to identify potential candidates for job openings. LinkedIn ProFinder helps Solpreneurs find project work.
LinkedIn is an excellent platform on which to build a community of professional colleagues through your connections and share with them your professional story, successes, highlights and other updates that support your personal brand. My B2B blog posts to my LinkedIn page and my connections receive notice of its arrival. Your connections will also share their stories and there is great opportunity to be in touch and nurture relationships.
Professional portfolios, videos, white papers, newsletters, blogs, infographics, SlideShare presentations and podcasts can be featured on your profile page to add depth to your brand story. Links to articles or studies that might interest your connections can be posted. Recommendations and endorsements let others verify your professional bona fides and you can return the favor.
In the Groups section, you’ll engage with colleagues within your industry, or with alumni of your school. Topics of interest are explored through posted questions and group members can respond and in the process get to know one another and possibly, forge relationships that lead to doing business.
As you might imagine, we see and test a lot of different influencer marketing platforms for our reviews—more even than what we’ve published. Not every platform makes it to our website, though; we’ve seen some pretty terrible attempts and we don’t want to waste our time in writing them up, let alone waste your time by asking you to read them. One common thing we’ve noticed about influencer marketing software that’s not worth your time? They were, by and large, conceived and made by software developers with little marketing experience who smelled a profitable trend.
Influsoft, the latest platform designed to make marketers’ lives that much easier suffers from no such impediment. That’s because the product is an offering that comes directly from an influencer marketing agency. But not just any agency. Influsoft was developed by what is arguably one of the top influencer marketing agencies in the world: Viral Nation.
Since 2014, Viral Nation has been offering a full suite of digital marketing services. As a talent agency, they represent and place social media’s biggest and best-performing influencers. As a marketing agency, they’ll conceive, execute, and manage campaigns for their clients. As a creative & media agency, they’ve created all kinds of social marketing content. And as all of these things, Viral Nation created in-house software tailored to their very specific needs—a collaboration tool that can manage each discrete segment of a marketing agency or department, individually or all together. Many developers say they’re offering end-to-end software, and they’re not necessarily wrong about that. Influsoft just defines those ends differently.
This is a result of ViralNation’s background as an IM agency. More specifically, it’s a result of VN having been an influencer marketing agency since 2014 (aka: the very beginning of influencer marketing). They’ve grown with the industry. They saw the rise of influencer discovery engines, and then the marketplaces, the relationship managers, and the analytics platforms. They were around when people first questioned how much influencers were worth, and when fraud helped propel several personalities’ careers. ViralNation has been an agency through every step forward and every step back the industry has taken, and through that experience have learned to adapt. So InfluSoft isn’t the result of some marketing people deciding one day they could develop and sell a platform. It’s the result of all the pivots and adaptations its creators had to make in order to maintain their success.
Today, InfluSoft is its own distinct company. Viral Nation is a customer, of course, but so are other brands and agencies. Activision Blizzard, Tencent Games, Canon, Facebook Oculus and Elite Model World are all happy customers. And for good reason: this is enterprise software at its finest. Read on to The Details, where we’ll cover only a fraction of the details.
Influsoft pricing is customised based on a variety of factors having to do with a brand’s size and marketing needs. But one thing is consistent across them, and that’s that there are no plans within the budget for small companies. And that’s great: too many platforms try to be all things to all companies, stepping up their features and removing restrictions as the price goes up. While that might broaden the appeal, it will often dilute the overall offering.
Influsoft doesn’t suffer from this, as the platform was developed to be an enterprise solution. Prices span from $3k to $10k per month.
To get an idea of how advanced Influsoft is, it’s best to start by talking about its Discovery module. What’s most notable about it isn’t what it’s capable of—you can search through millions of influencers, refine and filter your searches based on more granular criteria, get a boat-load of data about each person, and then create and organize lists of influencers that you would like to work with. The Discovery’s as good as any other company’s attempt at it, and better than a lot. So, if that’s not the most notable thing about it, what is?
It’s that the team at Influsoft isn’t really excited about it, and during a demo I received they likened their module to a convenience feature on a new car. Is it nice to have bluetooth capabilities in your vehicle? Yes. Is that what makes it a good car? No. It’s the same with Discovery. Influsoft works with third party providers to populate their database of influencers, and the number of profiles and all the attendant data comes from their analytics partners. But because it’s third party data, it’s not 100% accurate, just like every other platform that’s built a database of influencers who haven’t opted in to the system. And Influsoft has no problem saying that, because they view the discovery engine as more of means to and end than the end itself.
The other reason they’re good with minimising the importance of this aspect of their software is the first-party data you get when you start working with influencers. When they work with the companies via Influsoft, they’re authorising the software to ingest all the data that each social channel’s API allows. So on YouTube, for example, you’ll get deep insights into how audiences interacted with your video—average watch time, as well as a second-by-second view of where people were dropping off. That same video on Facebook will include data points specific to the platform, like the breakdown of those who watched with the sound on vs. off, and whether the audience was paid or organic. It wouldn’t make interesting reading to go over every data point on every channel that Influsoft gives you; it’s enough to say that the only limitations on what data you’ll get about influencers you’re working with are based on what the social channel itself shares.
In any case, the Discovery module is a great way to point you in the right direction of influencers to add to your roster, and you can organize them into as many lists as make sense for your purposes. Lists are how you can make sense of all the creators you’re working with or want to work with. You can categorize them by campaign, by social channel, whether or not they’ve signed onto the platform, etc. And this sets you up nicely to use the meat of the software.
Influsoft’s major functions are divided into three categories: Plan, Measure, and Listen.
The Plan module is—you’ve probably guessed—where all the upfront tasks around campaigns are undertaken. It is, essentially, a top-notch Project Management tool. This is where tasks are assigned, budgeting is monitored, deliverables are approved or rejected, and contracts are stored. This is where you begin to understand that you’re dealing with true enterprise software: collaboration and accountability across a single or multiple teams is handled at every level. Agencies can share lists and deliverables with clients for approval and input (or you can share it with just viewing permissions). WIth lists, internal notes can be created for each influencer for all to see. Tasks are assigned and the history is tracked, and calendar entries with alerts are created to remind assignees of their impending deadlines. Influencers submit their deliverables here, and your team can view and discuss them before approval. Communication and collaboration abilities are all over Influsoft.
Once your campaign has been created and content starts going live, the Measure module does exactly what it sounds like it does. A nice touch here is that when you first click into this section of the platform, you’re presented with a little something more than just baseline performance metrics. Sure, you’ll see high level stats like video views, impressions, and engagements, but these will also be shown on a graph comparing performance to the goals you set for the campaign at the beginning. You can then dig in further to each platform, and see how those are performing individually.
From there you can go further into each post and see how they performed on an individual basis. This is where you can see those highly specific first-party data points mentioned above. Depending on the channel, this can get very deep. For YouTube videos, for example, you’ll see things like the breakdown of playback devices, or whether people arrived at your video by clicking on a link, just browsing, or a search. If the video was shared, you’ll see what service was used (like Facebook, or Whatsapp, or even a text message. Everything’s presented in an easy to read format, with charts and graphs that don’t just give you numbers, but also show trends. And it’s all presented side-by-side with the actual content—images, videos, stories—that goes with those statistics.
Finally, there’s the Listen section. There’s more analysis of your campaign that happens here. Whereas most platforms combine performance metrics and audience analysis all in one place, Influsoft separates them out between the Measure and Plan sections. This makes a lot of sense from a workflow perspective. Performance data is all about looking at the past to see how the campaign did. Did we get what we paid for? Audience analysis is really about the future. You want to understand who engaged with your content so you know who to target in the future (especially if you wanted to repurpose content for a paid campaign). You’ll also get sentiment analysis that goes deeper than most. You’ll see the standard Positive/Neutral/Negative breakdown of sentiments, but then you’ll also see the range of specific emotions expressed through engagements.
This seems to be Influsoft’s thing: taking features that you’ve seen elsewhere and taking them further. They do this, too, with word clouds. You’ve probably seen them, a visual representation of the most used words by the audience, with the size of each word showing its relative frequency. So, Influsoft gives you a word cloud, but then its AI also analyzes these words to understand common themes.
These same analytics can be applied to your brand as a whole: it’s an excellent way to understand the landscape and impact of your social media presence. It’s worth noting that this section is not called “Your Brand Analysis.” It’s just called “Brand Analysis”—you can learn as much about competitors as you can about your own company.
Influsoft is designed and made for the enterprise, which traditionally means a large organisation. But the phrase “enterprise software” also carries some connotations as to what users can expect from an application. First and foremost, it needs to solve a problem that the enterprise is having. It needs to be easily collaborative, with attention to the kinds of details that can easily get lost in lesser attempts. The features ought to be robust, not only solving the core problem at hand, but introducing new functions that users never knew they needed.
Influsoft satisfies these criteria on all levels. And of course it does: it was created by a company trying to solve its own problems. And as they grew they learned more and more of these little details that they wanted to be handled by software. Influsoft’s creators, Viral Nation, are recognised as one of the leading influencer marketing agencies in North America. The software they developed isn’t the reason they’re good at what they do. But it does help them do it better. And now they can help your organisation do the same.
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