"A world without influencers is literally coupons or banners on the side of Facebook, and that’s disgusting."
Strong words from creator influencer, Amber Discko, but necessary. Think about it for a second; advertising gets a bad rep for being loud, obnoxious, unwanted. Influencer-created content helps to make advertising authentic, approachable, attractive. Which would you rather pay for?
Still, in 2017, there are many brands not paying creators for their work.
Why? One reason is that some brands perceive influencer marketing as a form of PR, and not as an advert - understandably an attitude change which can be a huge adjustment for many companies. PR is the traditional way for brands to communicate with public and media, via newspapers, magazines and online publications that have large readerships. Of course, there are similarities between the two, influencers also have large readerships - in the form of their followers - the two are forms of communication that have creative control over what they publish, and they both largely rely on the money earned from advertising. A magazine without adverts simply would not be sustainable, and neither would an influencer. There is a time and a place to combine PR and influencers, such as gifting, or offering brand discounts in return for exposure, but much like with a newspaper or media source, exposure should not be expected when not paid for.
Why else? Budgets still aren’t allocated for influencer marketing. Aside from the confusion between PR and influencer marketing, it can be hard for marketing departments to actually find the money to fund creative influencers as they try to stretch their budgets between traditional marketing, digital, influencer and many more verticals. In order for brands to truly benefit from influencers, then they must be a part of their budget, not as an added extra.
Can marketers really afford to leave influencer marketing out of the budget?
92% of consumers trust recommendations from individuals over brands, 74% use social media to make purchase decisions and 81% of marketers who have used influencer marketing have reported it to be successful. New approaches must be taken to budgets in order to include all types of marketing channels. Think of the influencer as a creator - their work can be repurposed for different platforms such as paid, banner and display advertising, as well as any other platforms used by the brand, and we’ve had first hand experience that this content tends to perform a lot better than brand created content. The brand owns all rights to the content. You’d pay a photographer, a designer or a model, so why not a creator influencer?
Influencers are still willing to let it happen. Some simply don’t know their value - yet.
Consider the amount of work they’ve put in; accumulating followers, improving their engagement rate, liaising with brands, taking the right photo, editing, modelling, set design, being a content creator is a mammoth task. For many it’s a full time job to not be paid would be, frankly, an insult to their craft. After all, we all have bills to pay and lives to lead. The creator influencer, Amber Discko created whopaysinfluencers.com to educate influencers and brands on how much they’re worth, where Influencers anonymously review brands and reveal how much they were paid in order to shed light on the industry. Discko’s site was a reaction to an interview with an anonymous social media exec who claimed to have thrown too much money at creative influencers in the past. The answer isn’t not paying them - the answer is transparency from the beginning: making sure that creators are upfront about how much they charge. Unfortunately, this kind of media enforces shame on influencers asking brands for money, and a fear amongst brands paying influencers, which in turn affects the quality of work being produced. A happy influencer makes good content, and good content makes for a happy brand.
Influencers have fast become creative agencies in their own right - they can plan, produce and broadcast content to vast audiences. The difference? They’re consumers too. First and foremost. And brands must do all they can to maintain that loyalty.