In Faint Praise of High Social Media Influencer Fees

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Much has been made of the fees that influencers have been charging brands in recent times. In the past year, I’ve heard influencers’ agents ask for strong six-figure numbers to take a few photos on Instagram, live-stream a video on Periscope or Facebook, or tweet a few times per day at an event.

Even influencers with modest reach and engagement are asking for fees in the thousands of dollars – and receiving said fees.

Believe it or not, I’ll grant credit and praise to these influencers for creating a perception of high value. If they didn’t create a perception of value, no one would pay such fees. Brands are beginning to question how much ROI such influencers actually generate, but that’s a topic for another time.

The Big Picture

Not only do I praise these influencers for creating the perception of value (the essence of marketing), I also praise them for something else:

Changing the perception of social media’s value.

For what seems like forever, companies and brands have operated under the perception that social media (and digital marketing in general) is free. I’ve heard these words spoken in many a meeting in my career:

  • “Oh, Facebook is free, we don’t need to allocate any budget to it.”
  • “Twitter’s that messaging service like texting, right? That’s free, isn’t it? We need a Twitter strategy that doesn’t cost anything.”
  • “Social media is for young people with too much time. Let’s just have an intern run our Facebook Page.”

If you’ve been a digital marketer for any period of time, chances are you’ve heard these frustrating words too.

The evolution of celebrities and influencers in social media creates a paradigm that less progressive marketers understand: celebrity endorsements cost money – and a lot of it. By introducing a familiar paradigm to a new medium, influencer marketing commands greater budgets and perceived value than more confusing new marketing methods.

The Impact

By introducing a high-value, high-cost paradigm to social media marketing, the evolution of influencer marketing positively changes the perceived value and impact of social media.

Do I still have questions and reservations about the ROI of influencer marketing? Absolutely.

Does influencer marketing improve social media’s perceived value in the C-suite? Absolutely.

The high-value, high-cost perception of influencer-based social media breaks the old perception that social media is easy and cheap – and that’s good for all digital marketers. I’d rather have a large budget for influencer marketing than a small or non-existent budget for “Doing the Facebook for the company”.

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