The Value of Influencers

Amy Chin
Marketing Section Editor

Since its creation, social media has evolved immensely in form and application. As consumers spend increasing amounts of time creating and consuming content on these apps, advertisers have looked for new ways to keep consumers authentically engaged. Influencers present an opportunity to advertise in a format native to social media platforms with an added layer of authenticity.

As influencer marketing gains traction among companies and brands from a variety of industries, the increased demand has brought attention to the conditions that these influencers work under. Given that influencer marketing is so new to the marketplace, very little regulation and support exists to protect these influencers. In a partnership with a brand, influencers are evaluated by their follower count, engagement rate, and other factors like content type and industry. These negotiated pieces of content represent a middle ground between content directly from a brand and organic user-generated content. This blend of sponsored and organic content requires additional compensation. However, these compensation practices have been increasingly criticized as ethical concerns surface when it comes to unequal or insufficient pay.

Influencers do much more than posting content but the industry is struggling to equitably value an influencer’s work (Photo courtesy of Liza Summer on Pexels)

There have been issues in the past with pay gaps and unequal treatment between influencers on the basis of ethnicity. In June of 2020, Fohr, a company that specializes in influencer marketing, was called out for having discrepancies in both opportunity and pay for their black and brown creators. In response, Fohr created new standards in reporting the pay and benefits of all their influencers for all campaigns to provide the transparency influencers were asking for. Due to the nature of influencer marketing, there are few opportunities to compare salary and compensation which makes it difficult not only to monetize influencer work but to accurately value one’s work. These steps forward in transparency have helped other influencers better navigate pay negotiations with brands and partnerships beyond Fohr.

However, the industry is far from perfect because in 2021 this is still an issue. While many groups and companies are trying to bring more awareness to unfair influencer practices, two women caught the attention of James Nord, founder of Fohr. Lindsey Lugrin and Isha Mehra created an app called “F*** You Pay Me” (FYPM) in a bold statement against these continuing pay inconsistencies. The app acts as a tool for influencers to read and leave reviews on brands to help the evaluation process of whether, and for how much, an influencer should work with a brand. The app allows for anonymous contributions and prohibits brands from entering the space so that the data collected is honest and unbiased. Similar to sites like Glassdoor, FYPM tries to give back some of the power to influencers in negotiations with brands. Many influencers operate as single-person businesses and need help in these areas. With this growing attention and willingness to source FYPM’s user-generated content, the app could disrupt these failing standards of the industry. Over time, as influencers become more significant in the marketing industry, this issue will continue to be part of the discussion until compensation more accurately reflects the true value of influencers.


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