Money talks. We can talk about how great influencer marketing is but what most people really care about is how it’ll affect their bottom line. Whether you’re an influencer yourself or a brand interested in incorporating the social media strategy into your marketing plan, having the low-down on the money part is pretty important. What’s the average that influencers are being paid? Is there a difference depending on the industry? Can you get away with not paying them at all? In the world of influencer marketing, figuring out the answer to these questions is one of the biggest issues brands face.

There’s a wide spectrum of opinions on this topic. Some believe influencers are paid too much while others believe they’re not paid nearly enough. There are arguments to be made that their time and effort isn’t worth the payday they’re getting and there are arguments to be made that their expertise and influential power is worth much more. It really depends on who you’re talking to.

If you’re facing these questions yourself, it’s important to fully understand the influencer marketing arena- including the numbers.

Do I NEED to pay social media influencers?

Influencer marketing doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money. In fact, it can cost you none. Many smaller influencers may not even require monetary payment for a partnership with your brand. This is actually one of the most hotly debated issues when it comes to influencer marketing. Is a good payout to the influencer really necessary to get good results? In many marketers’ experience, the simple answer is no.

While people argue that paying an influencer is the only way to go, others argue that those who haven’t made it big yet stand to benefit from a cash-less collaboration as much as the brand does. For most micro-influencers, money is not the most important part of a brand partnership. What trumps money is exposure and providing their followers with unique and helpful content. If the brand adds value to their feed and can grow their following, the word “unpaid” might not scare them off. To find the influencers who won’t ignore your DM’s, target ones with similar values and interests to your brands so that working together will be mutually beneficial.

Additionally, influencers may accept compensation in forms other than straight cash. While some may strictly require monetary compensation, others may be willing to accept less tangible perks. They can often be motivated by experiences, product, and exposure. If you’re lucky, you’ll find an influencer who is so keen on being seen as an influencer by their peers that they’re willing to work with you for nothing.

A successful example of brands exchanging product for posts is Fashion Nova. They work with thousands of influencers a year ranging from micro to celeb status. Instead of paying them for a sponsored post, they basically let them shop for free. It’s a win-win.

What’s the average payday for a social media influencer?

Let’s start with the basics. The average price per sponsored post is about 300$. Of all the types of influencers, model accounts bring in the highest paychecks and often have the most followers. Photographers and fitness accounts are also relatively popular. Marketers should plan to pay anywhere between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars per post depending on the effort and expertise required. This applies to influencers with a strong following and good engagement. As every influencer offers different things, the easiest thing to prioritize when trying to understand an influencer’s worth is their engagement rate.

According to the State of the Creator Economy study (2017), brands are dishing out the following paychecks (on average) to popular social media influencers on Instagram:

$170 for them to mention they like the brand

$270 for a sponsored photo

$500 for a sponsored video

Overall, men charge more per post than women. Go figure. This is probably because they’re used to getting paid 25% more in the workplace for absolutely no reason. But let’s not get into that. When it comes to follower counts, influencers with upwards of 100k followers can earn close to $800 per post while influencers with 1k followers will earn only about $100 (and that’s being generous). How many followers an account has isn’t the only thing that carries weight though. Engagement is also super important. If someone has 100k followers with 10 likes and 1 comment from their mom, chances are they won’t get hired. Subject matter, quality of content, and expertise also factor in to influencer pay grades.

How much are celebrities being paid?

It’s been reported that influencer and beauty guru Michelle Phan earns upwards of $3 million a year. This doesn’t even come close to others though. The richest (non-celeb) influencer of all is Felix Kjellberg- aka PewDiePie– who earns about $14 million per year. Excuse me while I cry into my hair.

These 1-percenters are rolling in the dough. Below are what the highest-paid celeb influencers are making per post.

Beyonce: $1 million/post (Holy smokes!)

Selena Gomez: $550k/post

Kim Kardashian: $300k/post

Kendall Jenner: $125k-$300k/post

What’s the best strategy for determining a price and paying influencers?

Since influencers can’t compare their own pricing with others, it’s often a guessing game. They’ll typically base their fees on what they’ve been offered in the past or what they feel their effort is worth. While this can be confusing for marketers who can’t figure out why 2 influencers with the same number of followers charge different prices, one thing to remember is that the brand has the upper hand. It’s simple supply and demand. Since there are thousands of influencers actively trying to grow their brand, if the influencer you want is out of your budget, chances are you can find another one who is willing to work for less.

Once you’ve determined your influencer marketing budget, keep it close to your chest. Let the influencer provide the price they believe is fair- this number is often lower than the bid you’d offer them yourself.

A common way to come to an appropriate amount to pay an influencer is to look at their follower count and engagement rate. While a person with a higher follower count will often want more money, they may have a lower engagement rate than their competitor. Keep an eye out for the influencers who have genuine and authentic engagement with their posts in the form of likes, comments, shares and reposts.

Another way to frame their payment is to offer them a base payment (let’s say 100$) and then a bonus for every threshold they hit (let’s say an additional 10$ for every 100 likes). This will give them the incentive to create the best content possible.

In terms of actually paying them, the best way to go is to use an influencer marketing software (cough, Rep, cough). By using this, you’re making the transaction safe and easy by confirming the terms of your agreement with the influencer before paying them.

 

At the end of the day, most marketers and influencers will gravitate to whatever gets them the best value. As influencer marketing already has an 11x ROI compared to other marketing strategies, incorporating this into your brand’s plan means you’re already on the right track.