Facebook’s Influencer Platform: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Ok, let’s start with one ugly: the name. It’s called the “Brand Collabs Manager,” which sounds like something Gina would say on Brooklyn 99, only it’s not funny.

Anyway, Facebook is apparently running out of ad inventory and, along with the top consumer brands in the world, looking to influencer-creators to appeal to all consumers, and especially younger ones. The tool is the other side of the influencer marketing contract and is essentially a search engine for influencers. Smart. But as with everything new, there’s the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Facebook’s Brand Collabs Manager – A search engine for influencers

The Good

Facebook is to be commended for producing this search tool, which in itself should be the biggest Good and trump all the Bads and the Uglies. We can only imagine and hope that Instagram, Facebook’s higher achieving younger sibling, will follow.

Good #1 Audience Data

Facebook understands audience alignment and, with the rollout of their tool, are out to change how you think about influencers. Since influencers hit the mainstream decades ago, PR agencies have picked influencers based on their interests- travel, cooking, etc. About five or so years, ago, influencer marketing providers (like Mattr) have used audience data to select influencers but it’s still not mainstream. So that’s Good #1.

Good #2 Data Data

They have tons of data about you, as you know by now, and data that’s not generally available to other providers. Just as with an ad campaign, we’ll be able to search for influencer audiences by the following filters:

Top countries where they’re popular
Interests
Gender
Education history
Relationship status
Life events
Home ownership status
Home type

If you haven’t used a current generation influencer provider you’ll love the access to this data, which you and/or your provider will use to match to your consumer targets. And although they don’t list age range, I’d suspect that’s in mix. But there are some big gaps that will hopefully get filled in the product plan.

The Bad

Although you’ll think these baddies are worthy of an ugly, we think they’ll eventually be available. Brands and agencies used to the capabilities of current generation providers like Mattr will ask for these data sets and features and there’s no apparent reason Facebook won’t provide them.

Bad #1 No City Data

Brick and mortar retailers use influencers to launch store openings or for coupon promotions. These brands rely on hyperlocal data – cities and sometimes even neighborhoods. Mattr had a project just last year where we needed to find influencers in the Harlem section of Manhattan.

Bad #2 No Content Draft Review

Brands worth their salt want to review, edit, and approve influencer content before posting. In exactly 100% of the campaigns we’ve managed the past several years, posts needed editing. Brand names not labeled or tagged correctly, typos, and the copy or image or video ill-suited to the campaign theme. This is a feature companies like Mattr have had for some time and Facebook could do a good job of it.

Bad #3 Compliance

Compliance is a newish box to check for influencer providers, especially as highly regulated industries like financial services and pharmaceuticals move budget into influencer campaigns. Failure to disclose “material connection” to the brand (i.e., #ad or #sponsored) could be very simple for Facebook to implement as part of their service, including the disclosure in a sort of sponsored post wizard framework. Ensuring the influencer keeps it in the post after going live is another feature necessary to ensure compliance. In our experience if a provider cannot prove that they will monitor the post for its duration that provider will not get the business. Speaking of post-posting monitoring, ensuring the post stays live for the contracted amount of time may as well be stirred into the now bubbling product plan pot.

The Bads are all addressable by Facebook, and we’d expect they’ll get right on it as soon as they’re asked by savvy brands and agencies.

The Ugly

We can expect these uglies will remain unaddressed for the foreseeable future primarily because of business model conflicts. This is a business school way of saying, “they’ll lose revenue if they do them.”

Ugly #1: Fraudulent Followers

Like compliance, experienced brand teams ask how a provider knows if an influencer’s audience has been organically grown or bought. How common is this? Mattr sifts through its influencer platform each week, sniffing out the baddies who buy followers. The percentage is not in the double digits, but high enough that it’s worth the double-check. Is it easy to do, you ask? We did it as a test and wrote about it here. Running these algorithms is a heavy resource hog, but Facebook can afford it. They will be reluctant to kill off fake accounts, however, unless threatened by the government.

Ugly #2: Detecting Influencer “Clubs”

Although related to Ugly #1, these are legitimate clusters of influencers recruited to like each others’ posts. This is actually fairly sophisticated and requires even more resources to detect. Could Facebook do it? You bet. Will they? No way.

Overall..It’s Good!

Of course the biggest ask by brands is activation. And frankly, it’s why companies like Mattr will always exist. Recruiting, contracting, and managing influencers will always be the heavy lifting in any campaign. There’s a good reason programmatic influencer services haven’t (yet) succeeded: brands will always want control over the content. The “human-ness” of influencer campaigns is what makes them authentic and special. But that human-ness comes with the price of working with humans, who are prone to error and sometimes willing to deceive or otherwise not comply with their contracts.

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