With mega-influencers raking in as much as $25,000 for a single Instagram post, it’s easy for brands to get swept up in doing whatever it takes to scoop up the biggest social media star for upcoming campaigns. Without clear points of comparison, however, pay rates can be tricky to negotiate, and engagement can be even more difficult to decipher. A new software called Winston aims to manage influencer-brand partnerships in a more efficient and ultimately measurable way.
Winston was created by Authentic Brands Group, which owns 32 brands including Aéropostale and Juicy Couture. Built into Instagram, the software lets marketing teams at those brands filter through influencers, while also automatically vetting them to make sure their content aligns with the aesthetic of the brand in question. After a contract is signed, influencers use the software to share the content they plan to post; the brand then approves the content and provides payment. Following the post, a Google Analytics-style reporting page tracks its reach and interactions.
Accurate measurement is key in influencer marketing, as influencers with a large following don’t always generate a large reward for brands. In fact, Instagram accounts with 70,000 to 2.5 million followers generate disappointingly low engagement lifts— under 10%, according to L2’s report on measuring influencer impact. Winston could offer an opportunity for brands to more thoroughly evaluate mid-tier influencers before signing contracts with them; it could even lead to a change in the way contracts are calculated, which often over-prioritizes follower count over engagement.
Winston’s automated system could also help brands avoid influencers who are juggling too many partnerships. Influencer promiscuity often leads to perceptions that the advocacy isn’t authentic, a losing situation for brands that bet big on this type of marketing.
It’s unclear how exactly the new software will judge aesthetic, and as a creation of Authentic Brands Group, its reach remains limited. Still, this is a step in the right direction when it comes to addressing the fact that influencer-brand partnerships are a full-on business for both parties, and deserve to be treated as such.