Influencer pay gap
Updated: Aug 28
The influencer industry is set to be a 15 billion dollar industry globally by 2020. It allows brands to promote their products to niche audiences with the added bonus of the influencers audience loyalty, and hopefully, authenticity to aid in building brand awareness.
Whether you're an avid social media user or not, you will be aware that some people are bringing in big bucks from their Instagram & YouTube accounts.
However, what may come as a surprise to some is that there’s 0 transparency when it comes to who’s getting paid what, and how to fairly pay influencers.
Currently, brands and influencers tend to negotiate on a job to job basis, with some influencers having a manager or management team to advocate and negotiate on their behalf.
Often, smaller or newer influencer accounts (those with under 100,000 followers) will guess how much they should be paid based on what they think is reasonable, or what their friends have charged.
This leads to massive disparity and gaps in how much people are being paid, often for the same outputs.
In light of the Black Lives Matter movement, many influencers have been 'ousting' brands who they believe treated them unfairly due to their race, which includes underpaying or refusing to pay at all, many times in contrast to their white counterpart who was paid more for the same output.
One influencer gained traction sharing her story about a global lingerie brand who denied to pay her, despite having over 100,000 followers and yet were happy to pay a white counterpart - with no justification given based on her following, engagement or quality of content. The influencer saw this as clear racial discrimination.
Aiming to find a solution and shed light on this situation, an Instagram account was set up to anonymously showcase influencer’s self-reported highest paid job. Additionally to their highest paid job, they also or share a funny, ridiculously bad offer from a brand.
In just a few weeks, the account grew rapidly with global contributions by influencers. The account was featured in Australian publications such as Girlfriend magazine.
Interestingly, it seems the pay gap extends not just to race but also to sex and physical ability. HypeAuditor, a popular Instagram tracking and analytic tool found that male influencers were also reportedly earning more on average than females. Influencers with a disability also reported that they are frequently expected to work for free in campaigns that are paying able-bodied counterparts for the same outputs.
There is no 'influencer union' - so for there to be change and regulation in the industry, communication seems to be the most logical way to get there in the eyes of the creators.
With this push for transparency in the industry, It is crucial now more than ever that brands consider the outcome of their contracts and campaigns as conversations can be shared publicly at any time.
Whilst there are many factors that determine how much an influencer is to be paid, brands can aid in creating fair outcomes by ensuring there is open dialogue with creators and fees are fairly reviewed based on reach, following and content outputs - not the look of the influencer.