John Spannos was in the right place at the right time when influencer marketing took off.
“I got lucky,” he said of being made one of Instagram’s suggested users. That helped Spannos get his product shots in front of the brands he wanted to work with, and eventually an influencer marketing and content creation platform called Popular Pays reached out to him with a project.
That was in 2016, and Spannos has used Popular Pays’ technology platform to find work ever since. The photographer’s entire workflow—from applying for a project to receiving payment for his work–happens within the platform 99% of the time.
“Once I submit the content, the client approves it. Once the client approves it, then the payment process automatically starts. It gives me a date that the payment’s going to hit my account. And then it’s all good,” he said.
Creators like Spannos benefit from easy-to-use technology that connects them to brands and gives them more work opportunities. Meanwhile, social platform proliferation forces more brands and agencies to create content that captures viewers’ attention across Instagram, Facebook, Snap, TikTok and more. To keep up with the demand for more social content and simplify their creator strategies, marketers search for creators on influencer management platforms like Popular Pays.
“Creators need tools to adapt as these new formats and channels are proliferating,” said Corbett Drummey, Popular Pays’ former CEO and the vp of brand collaborations at the brand’s parent company, app developer Lightricks.
More than 50 million people globally consider themselves part of the creator economy, and Statista predicts brands will keep supporting that economy, making it a $13.8 billion market. At the same time, more agencies are turning away from traditional content creation and taking on more strategic roles, leaving an opening for creators to meet the need for more content.
To access a steady stream of social content, agencies across the ecosystem must forge partnerships with creators and effectively manage them. Third-party tech platforms like Popular Pays remove some of the stress associated with sourcing more and more creators. While it used to be a job for a specialty agency, many categories of modern agencies now offer influencer marketing services. By making it easy for anyone to manage influencers and digest content performance metrics, tech platforms support scaling up influencer marketing.
“The creator economy and influencer marketing has grown so significantly through all the years that platforms, tools and technology really do provide our clients and our teams with an ease of search,” said Mananya Komorowski, evp of North America influence strategy and integrated media at global communications agency Weber Shandwick.
That’s one reason Popular Pays has benefited from its recent acquisition by the app developer Lightricks, which is also behind well-known social content editing apps Facetune and Videoleap. Lightricks exposes Popular Pays to millions of new creators who might choose to make a profile on the platform.
“Being able to go to market and say we have the biggest optic network of creators—that’s huge,” Drummey.
Brands can search specific creators within the platform and ask them to partner, or they can use the platform to post a project brief. Then, interested creators can apply for the job.
Brands must consider a number of things when selecting creators, and they can choose to display available projects only to creators who meet standards they set. They could open applications to creators based on their demographics, follower counts and average engagement rates, or less obvious characteristics like whether a certain percentage of the creators’ audience is over age 21.
A platform demo shared with Adweek also showed that marketers can use the tech to weed out creators propped up by bots.
To do that, marketers view creators’ follower count fluctuations and zero in on spikes that indicate if an influencer bought followers or gained them organically after going viral. The platform also shows how many of a creator’s previous posts are sponsored versus organic, so brands can avoid working with creators who exclusively post sponsored content.
Popular Pays believes in a “hand-raising approach,” said Theresa Gaarde, vp of sales at the company. This means that when a creator logs into the platform, they can view projects available to them based on their profile information. When they apply to a project, creators can explain their creative vision and include work examples they feel represent that vision.
Once a brand partners with creators, it can follow their progress. The platform tracks multiple influencers’ workflows at once and a green checkmark designates which creators have completed their projects. This way, even brands working with hundreds of creators won’t lose track of their investments.
The platform’s feedback loop keeps requested content edits in a single location so marketers can view creators’ submissions, from first draft to final product. Real-time access to metrics enables marketers to quickly put social spend behind well-performing posts, or download and share them with teammates for use elsewhere.
“We try to make it as easy as possible,” Gaarde said. “To not only have content created, but then also to be able to use it.”