TapInfluence, a company that connects marketers with bloggers and other online influencers, is announcing that it has raised $5 million in Series B funding.
The round was existing investor Grotech Ventures and new investor Access Venture Partners, with Access’ Kirk Holland joining the TapInfluence board of directors.
The company was initially launched as BlogFrog, which offered a social platform for “mommy bloggers,” but over time it shifted its focus to connecting those bloggers with advertisers. In an email, President and CEO Rustin Banks described the system as “influencer marketing” and “content marketing on steroids” — like other content marketing programs, it tries to help advertisers spread their message through blog posts and other content, but there’s an emphasis on social influence.
More than 1,000 pieces of sponsored content are passing through the TapInfluence system each month, the company says.
It’s taking another step in that direction today with the launch of what it calls its Influencer Marketplace, on which brands can search a database of more than 100,000 content creators based on things like reach, topic, and audience demographics. This data is authenticated based on Google Analytics and access to their social accounts. The marketplace also includes a workflow system for those marketers and bloggers to work together on content and to measure the impact of the resulting campaigns.
“We’ve always had relationships with influencers … but the relationships were in a loosely organized database,” Banks said. “Now all the relationships are in a fully transparent marketplace with full media kits and influencers are ready to be invited to programs.”
I’m still a bit skeptical about whether the content produced by these kinds programs is actually going to be all that good or interesting, but Banks said, “If the result of influencer marketing is lousy content, then the marketer isn’t doing it right.”
He argued that the two main errors are creating content that’s “overly branded” and hiring “non-professional influencers” to create low-quality, spammy content. To combat the first issue, Banks said the platform “teaches brands that it is possible to create assignments that result in great content and have good brand integration,” asking questions like, “Would the influencer do this if it were not sponsored?” To combat the second, TapInfluence is verifying the quality and following its influencers.
To illustrate the kind of content that can work, Banks pointed to these two posts promoting Biscoff Spread.
TapInfluence has now raised $8.2 million total.