As marketers are embracing influencer marketing, publishers are increasingly tapping social stars to build their editorial brand. As a result, the role of influencer manager — that is typically found at an ad agency — is gaining importance at media companies.
An influencer manager’s responsibilities vary depending on the organization. They can be simply to manage influencer outreach or ideate brand relationships, monitor and track all influencer mentions. For instance, Group Nine Media, which owns Thrillist and NowThis, is looking for a senior project manager with campaign management and media planning experience to manage influencers as part of the job. An influencer manager’s salary in New York City can range from $40,000 (a junior position) to $150,000 (a senior position) a year, according to Glassdoor.
“My close relationship with influencers and understanding of their business made me a natural fit to be the influencer manager for Connect,” said Brittany Burke, who wrangles influencers for Time Inc brands from the 100 social stars in the publisher’s first influencer network, Connect. “Now, I conceptualize the best ways to use influencers in all of Time Inc.’s brands and help influencers understand all that our company has to offer. Influencers are getting offers all the time for marketing campaigns, and from editors,” she said. “When 30 different Time Inc. editors are reaching out to them for different projects, it can be overwhelming.”
Since Burke has editorial experience, she understands the brands Time Inc. editors are building and will not just reach out blindly to a blogger just because she has a million followers. For instance, StyleWatch’s readers want accessible, wearable style at an affordable price point, with a few splurges scattered in here and there. So Burke is not going to reach out to a luxury fashion blogger who doesn’t wear anything at a lower price point, she explained.
“My job is to create great working relationships between our editors and influencers so that when the influencers are tapped for marketing programs, they completely understand our voice and brands,” said Burke. “But the work on the marketing side happens through a separate centralized group on our advertising team.”
The influencer manager role is recent for Domino, as well. Last Friday, the home-and-design publication introduced its first influencer network, where it will be working with content creators from four blogs in the home-and-design space — Design Sponge, A Beautiful Mess, The Every Girl and Dering Hall — to create influencer campaigns for brands like illy Caffe. Domino is also the only direct seller of display ad inventory across these four sites, each of which reaches close to or more than 1 million monthly unique visitors, according to Nathan Coyle, CEO of Domino.
When he joined Domino last June, Coyle — who was responsible for building Refinery29’s influencer marketing offering before — brought this business model to his new gig, and hired Elana Delasos as brand partnerships director to manage social stars for revenue opportunities four months ago.
Coyle said that an influencer manager is still a relatively new type of role in the publishing industry given how recent the rise of these influencer businesses. When he hires someone more senior than entry-level for this specific position, he would like to see some experience at a talent representation business, so the candidate gains experience dealing with personalities or some experience from the advertising world so the person knows how to engage with advertisers.
“For a more senior hire, both of these experiences are imperative,” said Coyle.
The New York Times and beauty site Galore, on the other hand, are outliers in terms of how they manage influencers. The former bought an entire agency called HelloSociety last March, which has now been integrated into T Brand Studio. And the latter has its chief creative Prince Chenoa and Jacob Dekat oversee editorial content, as well as sign talent to its in-house influencer agency Kitten.
For instance, Galore manages curvy model Dounia Tazi for modeling with Kitten and has developed an editorial video series with her called “Dounia Debunks” for Galore.com. The publisher has also worked with Tazi to produce ad campaigns for lingerie brand Adore Me.
Mike Albanese, CEO for Galore, explained that the publisher’s target readers are 16- to 26-year-old multicultural women, so influencers are not just talent for Galore — they are also fans and readers.
“In the peer-to-peer world of our audience, we are an outlet for them to create with — whether that is editorial or branded content,” said Albanese.