As brands continue to seek out better methods to engage their target audience in authentic ways, more and more of them are turning to influencer marketing as a solution to their needs.
However, influencer marketing can be a complex space, requiring a mixture of skills ranging from writing perfect content briefs and people management to PR and data analysis. Unlike many other marketing and advertising methods such as search, display, and social media ads, there is no clear-cut cost for influencer marketing campaigns.
If you’re on a budget, then the cheapest option will be nano influencers – you can typically expect to pay between $10 and $100 per post for this type of influencer. However, influencer rates really depend on various factors such as follower count, content type, and the complexity of the topic.
In this guide, we offer those interested in engaging influencers with their brand insight into how much they should expect to pay. We also dive into all the factors that come into play when deciding influencer rates and why there is no one-size-fits-all to paying influencers.
The likelihood is that you already have a pretty good idea of what an influencer is. After all, they are prolific on practically every social media platform.
However, the term “influencer” can be applied in many different ways. Cambridge Dictionary defines the term influencer as:
“someone who affects or changes the way that other people behave”
From this definition, it is clear that anyone could be an “influencer.” For example:
- A child could be an influencer of their parent’s buying decisions.
- A team manager could be an influencer of their team’s working habits.
- A health-conscious individual could be an influencer of their friend’s healthy choices.
In reality, social media is not a requirement for being an influencer. However, in the context of modern marketing strategies and in the context of this article, a better definition of an influencer would be:
“Someone who has grown an engaged social media following in a specific niche, over which they have the power to influence buying decisions”
The term “social media influencer” is a better explanation, although we will just use influencer throughout this article.
Typically influencers are broken into tiers such as micro, macro, nano, and mega influencers. This is a helpful way to categorize influencers based on their follower counts.
Here is an example of influencer tiers:
- Nano Influencers: 1k – 10k followers
- Micro Influencer: 10k – 50k followers
- Mid-Tier Influencers: 50k – 500k followers
- Macro Influencers: 500k – 1 million followers
- Mega & Celebrity Influencers: 1 million + followers
Good to Know: There is no universally-agreed follower count range for each influencer tier, but the above offers a good guide.
No prizes for guessing what influencer rates are – they are the rate an influencer gets paid when they agree to collaborate with a brand. But what do these rates actually include?
Well, what an influencer rate includes depends on the agreement you have with the influencer in question. Usually, the rate will cover:
- The influencer’s expertise in planning branded content
- The influencer’s time to create the branded content
- The exposure the influencer offers you by publishing the branded content on their social media feeds
By special arrangement, the rate may also include ownership of the content or permission to reuse the content.
In reality, influencer rates are very hard to judge. How much you pay an influencer will depend on several factors, including:
- Influencer follower count
- Social media platform
- The complexity of the subject matter
- Content quality
- Content type
- Influencer time investment
- Relationship with the influencer
- Competitor interest
- Number of suitable influencers in the market
- Brand match
Ultimately, influencer price will also vary based simply on what the influencer is willing to accept. Some influencers may be motivated to get their name out there and partner with as many brands as possible – meaning their rates will be lower and more competitive. Other influencers may be concerned about the authenticity of their content and therefore will be very selective over the brands they work with, leading to potentially higher influencer rates.
Let’s use a couple of (overly simplified) examples to demonstrate how the factors above can impact influencer rates:
Instagram Influencer Pricing: Example 1
In this example, we have two influencers (we will call them Sarah and Jon) that both charge exactly the same for brand collaborations – let’s say $5,000 per post. However, Sarah has twice the number of followers as Jon.
So, how can Jon charge the same rate for exposure to half the number of followers?
In this case, it all comes down to the niche.
Sarah is a fitness influencer. The fitness space has countless influencers looking to partner with brands. It is also easier to build a large audience due to the widespread popularity of living a healthy lifestyle. So, with high competition from other influencers, Sarah has to offer collaborations at a competitive rate.
Jon is a gaming influencer who specializes in a very niche type of game. Although he has built a reasonably large audience, it has been considerably more tricky to do this due to the relatively unknown nature of the game he specializes in. However, there are very few influencers in his niche and relevant brands are willing to pay a premium in order to collaborate with him.
Instagram Influencer Pricing: Example 2
In this example, there are two influencers, let’s call them Dominic and Bradley.
They both run Instagram accounts that are focused on German cars (BMW, Mercedes, etc). They have very similar follower counts. Their content is of a similar format and quality. All in all, they are almost identical in every way – except for the amount they’ll accept for collaborations.
Brad charges $100 per collaboration. Whereas Dominic charges $400 per collaboration.
Why? Because Brad wants to create momentum behind brand collaborations – this is because his goal is to become a full-time influencer specializing in German cars. On the other hand, Dominic is happy with his full-time job and just loves creating content in the German car space – so he isn’t as fussed about gaining lots of collaborations, and charges more for his time.
At this point, you might be asking the big question in the influencer rate debate:
“Do I actually need to pay influencers?”
…after all, there are plenty of other ways to provide influencers with value outside of physical payment. Things like:
- Free products
- Event invites
- Exposure to a wider audience
- Early access to products and services
There are some occasions, especially with ambitious nano influencers, where swapping these types of benefits for collaborations may be suitable. However, it is now widely accepted that influencers should be paid for collaborations – with the benefits listed above being used to sweeten the deal of negotiating a slightly lower rate.
Paying influencers is not only a sign of respect, showing them that you value the talent, content creation skills, and reach they provide – it also covers the time they will spend creating branded content, ensuring you get the best quality possible.
So, the short answer is, yes, you should pay influencers…
…but how much?
In this article, we have highlighted how tricky it is to offer specifics on how much to pay influencers. However, we know that a rough guide to influencer rates will offer brands looking to collaborate with influencers a baseline to formulate budgets and a good place to start negotiations.
According to Influencer Marketing Hub, here are the rate ranges you should typically expect to pay Instagram influencers based on their tier:
- Nano Influencers (1K – 10K followers): $10 – $100 per post
- Micro Influencers (10K – 50K followers): $100 – $500 per post
- Mid-tier Influencers (50K – 500K followers): $500 – $5,000 per post
- Macro Influencers (500K – 1 Million followers): $5000 – $10,000 per post
- Mega Influencers (1 Million + followers): $10,000+ per post
These average rates can vary based on the social media platform. For example, you would typically spend 50% of the rates given above for the equivalent TikTok influencers, and twice the amount for the equivalent on YouTube.
It is clear that influencer rates are a tricky subject to navigate. Although the rate ranges we have given you in this article are a great place to start, in reality finding a fair rate is all about communicating well with your desired influencers.
Using the information we have outlined in this guide, you will be able to have better conversations with influencers and find a rate that works for both parties.