The first step to launching a successful influencer marketing campaign? Building a community of passionate creators whose content aligns with your brand’s ethos and audience. But with endless creators leveraging a multitude of platforms, and with manual creator discovery being such a daunting and inefficient task, where should you start?
In this blog post, we’ll provide some background on the history of influencer discovery platforms, as well as some best practices that marketers can use today.
A Quick History of Influencer Discovery
With the inception of parent bloggers in the early 2000s, advertisers soon recognized the business opportunity of brand partnerships. However, these advertisers lacked access to traditional influencer discovery software, and were forced to uncover creators via word-of-mouth and search engines like Google and Yahoo. Even popular social platforms that sparked the social media boom initially lacked search functionality. It was only in 2001, with the go-to-market of Meltwater, that brands were granted the ability to track social media conversation for the first time, allowing them to surface loyal fans.
Enter influencer marketing. In 2010, the widespread adoption of YouTube and Instagram marked the beginnings of the creator economy. As a result, companies rushed to crack the “creator discovery code.”
During 2020—the year when the Pandemic changed our lives forever—there was a massive shift in social media habits, with users scrambling to stay connected with friends and family amid lockdowns. In response to TikTok’s explosive growth during this time, the company launched “TikTok for Business,” offering brands new tools to collaborate with creators via the Creator Marketplace.
What’s Next for Influencer Search and Discovery?
With social media users craving relatable and inspiring content, the explosion of nano- and micro-influencers took off in 2021. The TikTok algorithm remains something of a mystery (and a blessing for many), allowing small-scale content creators the opportunity to go viral and monetize, essentially leveling the influencer playing field.
In 2022, TikTok partnered with none other than CreatorIQ, naming us as the platform’s first SaaS partner. This integration provides brands access to metrics from the TikTok Creator Marketplace within the CreatorIQ dashboard, helping our clients find valued creators to collaborate with. As investment dollars continue to flow into the creator economy, more and more influencer discovery tools are sure to surface.
How Do Discovery Tools Work?
To date, there have been a few common approaches to creator discovery:
- Search by bio: Influencer platforms search for creators via terms in these creators’ self-crafted description or bio.
- Search by vanity metrics: Influencer platforms search via follower growth percentages, total follower counts, engagement rates, and total interactions.
- Data enrichment filters: Some platforms have partnered with data enrichment services to add more nuanced demographic and psychographic pivots to their creator profiles.
What Do These Tools Get Wrong?
There still remain common errors in how platforms and software uncover creators.
- Search by bio: This practice is limiting, because bios often have character restrictions and are self-promotional.
- Search by vanity metrics: This method does not necessarily account for the integrity of the creator’s audience, or the creative match of his or her content.
- Data enrichment filters: While this can be a useful tool, there’s still room for error, since the data does not come first-hand from the creators themselves.
Enter Content-First Discovery
As content-hungry consumers continue to seek out relevance and relatability, content-first discovery is only becoming more pivotal. Instead of looking at a creator’s bio, vanity metrics, or third-party data sources, brand advocacy platforms should leverage creators’ content as the go-to source of truth. Content-first discovery allows for a comprehensive understanding of creator affinities, ultimately helping to surface the best creators for your brand.
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The Best Practices for Finding Creators
Keeping the weight of content-first discovery in mind, CreatorIQ recommends taking the following into account as you embark on your creator discovery journey:
- Understand your ideal target audience, develop a customer persona, then dig deep. With this method as a starting point, you’ll be able to remain focused on your bottom-line as you begin the creator discovery process. Consider demographics, psychographics, and more key characteristics.
- Understand who the creator is, and what they stand for. The best creators partners are those who have posted about your brand before, or about similar brands, and who align with your brand’s mission and values. Researching these creators’ audiences remains important, but by focusing on an individual creator’s brand-fit, you might uncover new types of audience members along the way.
- Estimated data is less precise for small-scale creators. Given their lower follower counts, there are fewer data points to tell a full story on nano- and micro-influencers. That said, it’s especially important to use a content-first approach to uncover these creators—by doing so, you can pursue partnerships that are more likely to captivate your audience and theirs.
CreatorIQ's Search & Discovery Feature is Content-First
Our creator Search & Discovery feature leverages innovative machine learning technology and discovery methodology to find the best-fit creator for your brand. With data from over 20 million profiles across every social network, our users have access to:
- Automated creator recommendations
- Fraud and brand-safety detection
- Leveraged data to uncover creators who already have an affinity for your brand
- Filter options that offer a granular view of creator content
With the ever-increasing demand for authentic, relatable content, it’s more important than ever for marketers to be properly equipped with influencer tools to discover best-fit creators. By taking a content-driven approach to creator discovery, your brand will set the foundation for a strong influencer marketing strategy.
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This article was originally written by Henry Pray and has been revamped with the latest insights on creator search.