The Pros and Cons of an Influencer Marketplace

Oct 19th, 2021 — Jenn Kim
5 minute read

It’s every marketer’s dream to have true brand fans promote their products. Likewise, it’s every consumer’s dream to have the opportunity to work with their favorite brands. What if I told you there’s a way to make these dreams come true? 

Enter: influencer marketplaces.

What is an influencer marketplace? 

An influencer marketplace refers to a pool of influential people who are signed up to a specific platform with the intention of working directly with brands. Usually, brands can submit campaign proposals to the marketplace with the hopes that an influencer will be interested in joining. Basically, it’s an easy way for brands to connect with experienced influencers without having to do a ton of outreach. 

Sounds great, and there are definitely some amazing benefits to using a marketplace. However, it is important to be aware of the potential traps too. Below, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of an influencer marketplace, how it can serve as a solution to your influencer discovery process, and what else you can do to make better connections with influencers going forward. 

Let’s get started.

The benefits

The biggest, most obvious benefit of Influencer marketplaces is that it connects brands with partners who are looking for brand partnerships. 

“Aspire’s creator marketplace is a huge time saver. Without having to do all of the outreach, we’ve been able to fully scale our influencer program each month due to marketplace demand.”

– Jess Sweeney, Sr. Social Media Coordinator at rue21

Not all marketplaces are built the same — but on Aspire, for example, influencers with over a certain number of followers can sign up to join the platform, and then browse the marketplace of active campaigns. If they see a brand they authentically connect with, they can apply for the campaign. This is great for brands because it is a low effort way to attract experienced people to take part in your campaign. You can adopt somewhat of a “set it and forget it” mentality, and watch as influencer applications organically roll in. 

But beyond this obvious advantage, there are many other perks to utilizing an influencer marketplace: 

1. Influencers on the marketplace are highly vetted.

To be a part of an influencer marketplace, creators are highly vetted by the influencer marketing platform to see that they have good engagement and authentic practices. That means brands can expect high-quality influencer relationships.

“We’re very focused on working with authentic fans of our brand — people who already love Splenda. To find these passionate influencers, we set up our autoresponder question so marketplace applicants are prompted to answer what they love about Splenda. We find some of our highest quality brand partners with this feature.” 

– Matt Thompson, Senior Manager of Social Media at Splenda

Plus, influencers who have opted in to be part of the marketplace are agreeing to share their real-time data with the brands on the platform. Because of that, the platform is able to provide more data points than a non-opt-in network to allow you to make the best informed decision prior to a partnership. On Aspire, we even provide brands with influencers’ authenticity score and a sliding scale showing the percentage of fake followers one may have.

2. Brands gain quick and easy collaboration processes.

Influencers that are on the marketplace are typically up-and-coming influencers who want to build their own personal brand. Because of this, they tend to be professional and have some experience in co-creating with brands. 

Additionally, since they’ve opted in to be a part of the marketplace, they are more familiar with managing their partnerships on an influencer marketing platform. This means that you spend less time onboarding them and educating them around how to use the influencer software, making them more reliable, quicker, and easier to work with. 

3. You have access to up-and-coming influencers.

As mentioned above, many influencers on the marketplace are up-and-coming creators, ranging from nano- to mid-size influencers. While influencer pricing varies based on several factors, it’s true that smaller creators are typically more affordable. This is especially helpful for emerging brands with tight budgets who may not be able to afford to work with celebrity-level influencers. 

4. You’re able to find specific influencers for very niche campaigns.

Sometimes, you may want to run a very specific campaign that requires a distinct group of influencers. For example, you may run a campaign around dorm room supplies for students who are about to go to college, or maybe a campaign around vitamins for women who are very early in their pregnancy journeys. As you can imagine, these types of influencers may be harder to find through keyword search.

That’s where the marketplace comes into play. If you have a callout saying, “We’re looking for first-year students who will be heading off to college,” relevant influencers can find you on the marketplace, instead of you looking for them via search. 

“For this back-to-school season, we wanted to run a campaign around dorm room makeovers. When we posted our campaign proposal to Aspire’s creator marketplace, we had dozens of college students applying to be a part of the campaign. Finding influencers has never been easier!” 

– Whitney McMillan, Marketing Manager at Hart Tools

The pitfalls

As with every channel for influencer discovery, there are some common pitfalls of influencer marketplaces. The good news is that they are all very easy to avoid. 

Here are some of the traps you may fall into if you only use an influencer marketplace, and how you can steer clear of them.

1. If you don’t use other channels for influencer discovery…

If you’re only using an influencer marketplace (and not leveraging any other search channels), you’re limiting yourself to just the pool of influencers who have opted in to the marketplace. This means you’re likely missing out on a world of opportunity with some really amazing brand partners. 

To avoid falling into this trap, make sure you’re exploring other channels of discovery, such as a search engine that allows you to search the entire universe of influencers. Better again find a tool that allows you to search by demographic, audience interests, keywords, and more. At Aspire, we even allow you to search by images so you can find people with a similar aesthetic. Leveraging social listening solutions and ecommerce integrations to look for people who are already organically talking about you on social media is also a smart idea. 

2. If you don’t have good campaign incentives… 

On the marketplace, influencers can see other brands’ campaigns. Now, we don’t think there is anything wrong with some healthy competition, but if you don’t have good incentives for influencers to join your campaign, you can potentially lose someone you want to work with to another brand with a more appealing offer. 

If you’re not getting any influencers applying to your campaigns, consider reworking your reward model. For instance, if you’re only offering free products for an extensive amount of deliverables, it’s possible you may need to offer payment or reduce the amount of content you’re asking for — especially if your products aren’t of high value. Remember to always compensate influencers fairly. 

3. If your marketplace provider tries to charge you… 

Unfortunately, there are some platforms out there that charge fees or take commissions on the relationships you’re forming with influencers on the marketplace, on top of the price you pay to use the influencer marketing software. These platforms are acting as the “middle man” between your brand and your creative partners. Not only does this cost more for you, it also takes away from your influencers’ hard earned wages. 

At Aspire, our marketplace is completely free to use once you’re our customer, nor do we take commission from influencers’ earnings. That way, you don’t have any additional costs, and your influencers get their full paychecks. We recommend doing your research and steering clear of any platforms that don’t allow you to own your influencer relationships. 

Take advantage of influencer marketplaces

Influencer marketplaces can be a quick and easy solution to finding well-aligned influencers. Leverage them to reap the benefits of a two-way relationship with influencers, but don’t solely rely on influencer marketplaces. Remember to vet each influencer marketplace and invest in other influencer discovery channels to avoid falling into some common traps. 

Want to learn more about Aspire’s influencer marketplace? Request a demo. 

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