Why Hiring Influencers From a Marketplace is a Bad Idea

Marketplaces like Billo and Insense seem like a convenient one-stop-shop for influencer collaborations. They promise the choice of thousands of influencers and UGC creators.

Priya Nain

Priya Nain

October 26, 2023

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Marketplaces like Billo and Insense seem like a convenient one-stop-shop for influencer collaborations. They promise the choice of thousands of influencers and UGC creators.

Our aim with this blog is to help you understand the potential setbacks before signing quarterly or annual contracts (that's all they offer!) with these marketplaces. We want to guide you to choices that benefit them in the long run, even if it means taking a more challenging path initially. And there's a quick overview of an alternative to marketplaces.

💔 Missing brand alignment in UGC content collected from marketplaces

🤝 You need influencers that are aligned to your brand

In a recent tweet, Nik Sharma (a DTC marketing expert) pointed out that UGC, as many marketers define it, often feels inauthentic, terming it more aptly as "People who aren't actors for a reason who are acting generated content.".

It's a reminder that just because a strategy is trending or offers convenience, it doesn't necessarily equate to authenticity or effectiveness.

For DTC brands, the focus should be on genuine connections rather than shortcuts. This means deeply understanding what your brand stands for and partnering with influencers who truly match that. Only then can you create content and collaborations that resonate with your audience & feel authentic.

🚫 There are no filters for brand values

Imagine you're a sustainable clothing brand that believes in ethically-sourced materials and eco-friendly production.

Using marketplaces, you can filter for influencers who are 28-year-old, male, living in the US, with interests in fashion. But let's say this influencer, despite his fashion-forward posts, was recently seen sporting items from brands known for questionable labor practices.

If you end up partnering with him because he fits some general criteria, your audience might question your commitment to ethical production.

They might wonder if you're genuinely sustainable or just jumping on a trend. This mis-match in your message and type of influencer you partner with can lead to a decline in trust, potentially affecting sales and the reputation you've worked hard to build.Your campaign, instead of boosting brand value, could inadvertently cast doubt on your brand's integrity.

👍 Go beyond standard criteria

Hiring from marketplaces makes you overlook the nuances that make an influencer genuinely complementary to your brand. That's why, beyond the standard metrics, it's crucial to have a human touch, an experienced eye that can sift through the sea of influencers and spot those that resonate genuinely with your brand values.

Our 'Ideal Creator Profile' system is built to guide you through this intricate process, ensuring that your influencer collaborations are not just transactions, but meaningful partnerships that drive value for your brand.

💰 You and your competitor work with the same creators…

Marketplaces are in the business of maximizing their profits, and they do so by selling their platform to as many brands as possible and selling them as much influencer content and UGC videos as possible.

They often treat influencer content as a commodity.

This means they have no incentive to hide influencers who've previously worked with your competitors.

If all brands are drawing from the same pool, the uniqueness and differentiation that influencers bring to each brand can be diluted. This can lead to audiences seeing the same faces promoting a range of competing products, reducing the authenticity and effectiveness of the endorsement.

Your job as a brand wanting to do influencer marketing is to find people who are mission-aligned with you and love your products, not work with any creator you find on a marketplace just because they fit the general rubric of an “influencer”.

⛔ They own your influencer relationships, not you

It's important to understand the business model of influencer marketplaces. Their revenue often comes from commissions or fees from each transaction between the brand and the influencer. Naturally, the more transactions they facilitate, the more revenue they generate. This model doesn't necessarily incentivize long-term, sustained partnerships, but rather a higher turnover of one-off collaborations.

Their primary goal is to get you 'some output' — post, picture, video, etc. —  that fulfills a checklist. They don't enable long-term partnerships with influencers, which is what actually works with influencer marketing in 2024 and beyond.

With short-term partnerships, brands miss out on the benefits of deep engagement with influencers. A long-term relationship can lead to better understanding, aligned values, and collaborations that feel more organic and authentic to audiences. Over time, this relationship can evolve into the influencer becoming an ambassador for the brand, which leads to a more genuine endorsement.

🔒 Dependency on their platform

By maintaining control over the brand-influencer relationship, marketplaces can create a sense of dependency. If all communications and collaborations are channeled through them, it becomes challenging for a brand to establish an independent relationship with the influencer, effectively locking the brand into the platform.

With platforms like SARAL, you can go “direct to creator” and own your influencer relationships.

🎣 Settling for the best within a restricted pool

While marketplaces may boast thousands of influencers, they don't cover the entire influencer universe. There might be countless others outside these platforms who are a perfect fit for your brand, but you won't have access to them if you're only looking within a single platform.

The best match for your brand within a marketplace might not necessarily be the best match in the broader influencer landscape.

⛰️ It's like searching for the tallest mountain in a specific region, rather than the tallest mountain in the world. You're operating within a local optimum, which restricts your potential reach and impact.

🤩 How to engage influencers for authentic UGC Content (without paying $$$ to marketplaces)

Step 1 — Make a list of 100 influencers & vet them further

  • Utilize hashtag research to find relevant influencers. Look for a mix of micro, macro, and upcoming content creators.
  • For a quicker approach, use tools like SARAL — an all-in-one influencer marketing platform.

With SARAL, In just a few clicks, you'll have a list of hundreds of influencers who fit your brand perfectly.

To complement your search and can use SARAL's free Chrome extension. This helps you view influencer stats, estimate a fair fee, and add them to your list without any copy-pasting.

Brands that use SARAL have reported being overwhelmed by the number of influencers they got connected with 😂. That's a good problem you can also have when you use SARAL. Claim your free trial here.

Step 2— Create a 'yes worthy' influencer offer

  • Offer them a free product as an introduction to your brand.
  • Provide them with exclusive audience discounts.
  • Include added incentives: for example, 15% commission on sales, easy access to new product launches, and exclusive 20% discounts for their fans.

Step 3— Reach out to creators

  • Send personalized emails that show you've researched them and understand their brand and content.

If you're handling this task yourself or using a VA, there's a better way to use your time: automate your messages. You can use SARAL to create an automated sequence.

But automation doesn't mean sounding robotic. You can still send personal messages to influencers and schedule them ahead.

Here's a quick guide for crafting your emails:

Follow up if you don't receive a response initially.


Step 4 — Onboard creators and ship products

  • Provide a proper introduction to your brand and share creative guidelines.
  • Use tools like SARAL to send free products and create tracking links to monitor the performance.

Step 5— Build long-term relationships 🤝

  • Ask for feedback regularly to ensure both parties are satisfied.
  • Seek permission to use their content across your platforms.
  • Encourage them to share their content on their channels, and in return, re-share their posts on your social media.

You can accomplish all these tasks with SARAL.

See how it stacks up against a popular marketplace:

Interested to try? Claim your 7-day free trial here.

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Marketplaces like Billo and Insense seem like a convenient one-stop-shop for influencer collaborations. They promise the choice of thousands of influencers and UGC creators.

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