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How much should you pay your influencers? Or, more importantly, should you be paying your influencers at all? Figuring out how to pay social media influencers is one of the biggest issues in influencer marketing.

Some argue that brands were initially a little too gung-ho about the concept, and that they offered influencers way too much in exchange for way too little. Others argue that influencers don’t paid enough, or that the amount of time and effort they put into a sponsored post isn’t commensurate with the amount they earn.

If you’re battling with the issue of influencer payment, it helps to have an understanding of how much most influencers earn, and what you can do to make sure you’re able to pay your influencers.

How Much Do Marketers Pay Social Media Influencers?

How much do influencers get paid? It really depends on a range of factors. The 2017 State of the Creator Economy study (SOCE) found that influencer marketing engagements accounted for the majority of influencers/creators’ incomes in the past year.

But how much an influencer earned depended on the type of project he or she worked on, and his or her follower count and engagement rate. The SOCE revealed a what brands pay on average for social media influence. Let’s take a look at what marketers expected to pay for influencer marketing in 2017:

  • Sponsored photo: Marketer expects to pay: $272
  • “Like a brand”: Marketer expects to pay: $171
  • Sponsored Facebook update: Marketer expects to pay: $319
  • “Follow a brand”: Marketer expects to pay: $156
  • Sponsored video: Marketer expects to pay: $496
  • Send Sponsored email: Marketer expects to pay: $634
  • Sponsored tweet: Marketer expects to pay: $418

What Do the Top Influencers Earn?

Of course, the payment rules work a bit differently for the 1 percenters among influencers — those with millions of followers or celebrity status.

Just as a Hermes or Chanel handbag easily costs 10 to 20 times what you’d pay for a similar style at Forever 21 or J.Crew, the top influencers easily cost 10 to 20 more (if not more) than most macro- or micro-influencers.

Here’s what a few of the highest-paid influencers around bring in per post, campaign, or year:

Fortunately, the handful of influencers mentioned above are in the minority. You won’t have to shell out amounts in the six figures or even the four figures when working with the majority of influencers.

Do I Have To Pay Social Media Influencers?

Do influencers always expect some form of financial compensation? Not always. There have been a few high-profile instances when influencers happily partnered with brands in exchange for freebies.

For example, fast fashion retailer Fashion Nova works with thousands of influencers, ranging from celebrities to micro-influencers. Instead of giving them cash, the brand lets influencers “order” clothes for free. The influencers then post pictures of their fashion finds on Instagram.

Daniel Wellington is another brand that has put together a successful influencer marketing strategy that doesn’t actually involve paying influencers cash. Most are given a free watch and a discount code, which they then create an Instagram post around.

One benefit of not offering your influencers financial compensation is that it can lead to posts that feel genuine and are perceived as more authentic by followers and fans. One drawback is that it can leave the influencer wondering “What’s in this for me?”

How Much Should You Pay Social Media Influencers?

If you’ve decided that paying influencers (versus only giving them freebies) is the way to go, you need to figure out how much you should pay each person.

A common way to figure out the appropriate amount to pay an influencer is to look at his or her follower count. As AdWeek notes, the more followers an influencer has, the more he or she will command per post. A person with less than 1,000 followers might ask for $100, while someone with around 100,000 followers might want $800.

You can also base payments on the results of the campaign. For example, you might offer an influencer a base payment of $100. Then you tack on an extra money for every 100 likes. Or you could offer extra compensation for every purchase that’s made as a result of a post or campaign.

How to Pay Social Media Influencers

The next step is to figure out how to pay social media influencers. Using Software Guide can make payment easy. It holds your funds in escrow, which gives the influencer peace of mind that he or she will receive payment.

Using software lets you confirm the terms of your agreement with the influencer are met before payment. Plus, it streamlines the payment process. You don’t have to worry about collecting your influencer’s direct deposit or PayPal details. And you don’t have to hassle with cutting and mailing a check.

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