Collaborating with Social Media Influencers
Partnering with influencers to market your businesses is an old marketing strategy, but social media influencer marketing is relatively new which can make it difficult to know what to charge and how to measure results.
According to Entrepreneur.com, sponsored social ranked first among all other channels for overall effectiveness, scoring 7.27 on a 10-point scale. It beat out experiential marketing (7.25), celebrity endorsement (6.87) and television advertising (6.54). Based on that list, it’s no surprise that 74 percent of us would use or recommend sponsored social in the future. 
Collaborating with people who align with your brand and have a large audience base makes marketing sense. It’s especially serendipitous when the social celebrity aligns naturally with your brand, and their comments about your business come across as genuine, off-the-cuff love-ins. When there isn’t a natural fit, you can still get creative, but you will need to pay. Today’s savvy marketers not only do this for powerful exposure and brand association, but also to simply help create valuable, compelling content. The volume of marketing content today (multiple posts per day) far exceeds the volume of messages in the past (several ads per year). Creating this amount of content internally can be very challenging, so marketers rely on influencers to help create that legitimate, authentic branded content for them.
Increasingly there seems to be a bit of friction between what social media influencers believe they are worth and what brands are willing to pay. This seems like a classic negotiating scenario – seller wants the highest price and buyer wants the lowest. So what ARE these so-called ‘influencers’ charging? How do you create the terms for such an agreement? This can be tricky for professional marketing agencies, let alone self-taught DIY social media marketers and small business owners. We gathered some info to help demystify what social media influencers earn in the hopes it can help both negotiate the best fair market rate.
MAKE IT RAIN
According to agencies and marketers, influencer fees skyrocketed in 2014 and are now settling somewhat. As social media influencer collaborations become increasingly popular, more people become exposed to what the fees are – a transparency that can be helpful in level-setting what some perceive to be an out-of-control system. This knowledge is especially helpful as most social media influencers tend to skew young, which can make them less knowledgable about how corporate marketing budgets really work, and less experienced with negotiation.
So how much do people charge? Here’s a bit of a jackpot resource: as of May 2016 an anonymous crowd-sourced website has sprung to life that discloses payouts to social media influencers directly from the social media influencers themselves! Who Pays Influencers is, as mentioned, an anonymous crowd-sourced list of which companies pay their artists/influencers, and how much. It discloses who the good apples are, as well as the opposite. Here is an example post: “Payless Shoes. $1,900.00 and a $75 gift card for three blog posts each shared at least three times on the social media platforms of my choice. They paid within 30 days of the last post. Really nice people to work with.” “Honda paid $10,000 for a 2 minute YouTube video that featured a car they loaned me and three of the features. Pay was $5,000 up front, $5,000 at delivery. They were really on top of it.” 
The information presented on Who Pays Influencers is valuable, but my wish is that more people would reveal what their audience size is to help put those fees into perspective. Furthermore, the rate depends not only on audience size, but it also on how many social media platforms are covered in the agreement, whether the content is being created by the influencer or by the marketer, and just how rich and complete the content is (i.e. a video versus a tweet). 
For When You Don’t Know The Influencers
If you don’t have personal relationships with these influencers – or if you don’t even know who they are – then consider approaching an influencer agency. At the end of last year, Orlando-based IZEA, the world’s largest online influencer network with more than 550,000 creators in 70 countries, established its first Canadian office. In Canada, they work with 14,000 influencers and employ a team of 10 people charged with identifying and recruiting new influencers by reading blogs and attending blogger conferences.  (IZEA even has a twitter account for its “creators” where they ‘shout out’ achievements) .
With the support of influencer agencies, the results for marketers can be astounding: “a recent program conducted by IZEA over-delivered on its total reach – a metric that includes blog posts, social shares and tweets – by approximately 214%. That program featured barbeque-themed posts on blogs including KissMySmoke.com and PreferredMagazine.ca.” While working with an influencer agency can be a more expensive approach, but it can be worth its weight in gold in terms of vetted influencer options, time efficiency and other logistical legwork. Alternatively, you can choose to dive into the trenches yourself, get involved with the scene, and find the most well-suited influencers to meet your needs and help you reach your marketing goals.
Collaborating with social media influencers can be a worthwhile – and arguably necessary – line item on a marketing budget. To act on this, you can invest time in cultivating the influencer relationship personally or enlist the help of an agency. To set the terms of the partnership, you can ask around, search the internet for rates and reference the anonymous crowd-sourced website WhoPaysInfluencers.com. Eventually, this influencer-focused marketing approach will change, as all things in society do, and influencers simply won’t be as influential as they can be today. However, this remains a great strategy for the immediate future as we know it!
 (More interesting fodder..) Confessions of a Social Media Exec on Influencer Marketing.