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What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is a type of digital marketing in which brands partner with various types of influencers to promote the brand’s products or services. An influencer could be a blogger, content creator, or celebrity with a strong social media presence.

The roots of influencer marketing come from the tried-and-tested method of obtaining celebrity endorsements as part of a marketing campaign. That type of marketing only provides a one-way conversation, though, with celebrities telling audiences about a product or service from a billboard, magazine page, or TV screen. Influencer marketing builds on this practice by having the influencers drive conversations with — instead of to — their followers about the products or services they are promoting on various social networks.

For a successful influencer marketing campaign, brands should look for influencers with large numbers of followers and high engagement rates for their target demographics. The influencers post about the brand’s product or service, using their own distinct personas to act as brand ambassadors. When done well, an influencer marketing campaign can have a high return on investment for a brand.

What are the different types of influencers?

One way to categorize influencers is by the way they reach their audiences. Celebrity influencers become influencers after attaining fame through other means. The Kardashians, for example, were reality television stars before they became social media influencers. Other influencers, such as bloggers and YouTube or TikTok content creators, gained their follower counts through their online activities. This type of categorization is helpful in understanding how influencers obtain their influence, but it is not particularly useful when planning a social media campaign. For that, another method of categorization is necessary.

Follower count is perhaps the most important way to categorize influencers when it comes to influencer marketing strategy. Depending on your goals, any of the following types of influencers could be helpful to your campaign:

  • Mega-influencers: more than a million followers, often celebrities.
  • Macro-influencers: From 500K to 1 million followers.
  • Mid-tier influencers: 50K to 500K followers.
  • Micro-influencers: 10K to 50K followers.
  • Nano-influencers: 1K to 10K followers.

Note that the biggest influencers are not necessarily the best influencers for your particular campaign. You want to find someone whose persona fits with your goals and who will be able to reach your target audience with fees that are within your budget. You might have to consider many potential influencers before you find the right influencer who can promote the success of your campaign.

How can brands find the best influencers to hire as brand ambassadors?

The following steps can help you assess whether a particular influencer might be a good fit for you:

  • Find influencers that are highly engaged with their audiences and know how to use hashtags well. You may research influencers to see if you want to approach them, or you can create a recruitment campaign to encourage potential influencers to come to you.
  • When you have found an influencer who appears promising, look at all the social platforms they use, such as TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube. Review their prior campaigns to get a sense of their style and persona.
  • Look at how much and how often the influencer posts, as well as how they engage with their followers.
  • Make sure the influencer aligns with your brand’s goals and reaches its target audience demographic. If so, this is the time to approach them if you have not done so already.
  • Ask to see metrics about followers from the influencer’s social media posts.

How much does it cost to hire an influencer?

The cost of an influencer may vary depending on the influencer’s follower count, the type of social media posts you are seeking, and the platform or platforms where the posts will go. Influencers with large numbers of followers are more likely to be in demand, which means they can command a higher price. Generally speaking, a mega-influencer is going to cost much more than a nano-influencer.

The amount of time and effort involved in content creation will also affect the price. An Instagram post can take hours to set up for the perfect picture. A YouTube video can require hours, or even days, to prepare, shoot, and edit.

Finally, influencers may charge different rates for posts on different social media platforms. This is partly due to each platform having its own algorithm that determines how many people will see it. An Instagram story might get more engagement than a TikTok post, for example, so it might cost more.

A marketing budget for an influencer marketing campaign that uses Instagram and TikTok might include the following fees: 

Influencer Type Instagram (cost per post) TikTok (cost per post)
Mega-influencer (celebrity) Varies, but could be $40,000 or more Varies
Mega-influencer (non-celebrity) $10,000 or more $2,500 or more
Macro-influencer $5,000 to $10,000 $1,250 to $2,500
Mid-tier influencer $500 to $5,000 $125 to $1,250
Micro-influencer $100 to $500 $25 to $125
Nano-influencer $10 to $100 $5 to $25

How are social media influencers paid?

Several methods are available to compensate influencers who are part of a marketing campaign:

  • Free products: Nano-influencers may post reviews in exchange for free products, although most influencers would prefer to get paid.
  • Sponsored posts: Brands can pay influencers directly for posting about their products or services. This is often available to influencers with larger followings.
  • Ambassador contracts: Brands can enter into brand ambassador contracts with influencers or content creators to promote their products or services on a regular basis. The influencer would be an independent contractor working for the brand. The contract might specify a minimum number of posts or amount of engagement that the influencer would have to provide.
  • Affiliate marketing: The influencer’s pay is based on the number of new customers or sales they bring in. The more followers that buy the brand’s products or services, the more money the influencer makes.

What are the laws that surround influencer marketing?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has regulatory authority over influencer marketing on social media. Section 5(a) of the FTC Act prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.” The following are some of the legal requirements for influencer marketing campaigns:

  • Brands cannot tell influencers what to say about their products or services. Since the purpose of using influencers is to build trust with consumers, brands must allow influencers to speak for themselves.
  • Influencers must share honest reviews and opinions about a brand and its products or services.
  • Influencers cannot review products or services they have not actually used.
  • If an influencer describes their experience with a product or service, that description must be similar to what other consumers should expect.
  • Brands must be honest about the opinions of influencers that they have hired. They cannot, for example, tell consumers that a particular influencer enjoys their product when that influencer had the opposite experience. This includes situations in which an influencer previously endorsed a product but has since changed their mind.
  • Influencers must disclose any financial connection to a product or service that they are reviewing or promoting. They must clearly state that something is a sponsored post or sponsored content.

Failure to follow these requirements can result in enforcement action by the FTC, which usually involves fines.

How can brands have successful influencer marketing campaigns?

A brand that follows these tips has a good chance of running a successful influencer marketing campaign:

  • Know the laws that govern influencer marketing.
  • Hire the right influencers, meaning influencers who align with your brand and have the trust of your target audience.
  • Remember that celebrity influencers and celebrity endorsements are very expensive. Only use them if they align with your branding goals.
  • Consider offering a discount code that the influencer can give to their audience. This will help you track the success of a campaign and encourage followers to make a purchase after seeing the endorsement.
  • Talk to a lawyer about the proper contracts you need when entering into an influencer relationship.

What type of contract do I need to hire an influencer?

If you plan to hire an influencer, you will likely want a contract that is specifically written for the influencer-brand relationship. An Influencer Agreement usually includes details covering what the influencer will do or create, how much they will charge, how they will get paid, and the process for ending the contract. 

Since an Influencer Agreement addresses certain types of business activities, it might include additional provisions that directly address concerns that may arise in a brand-influencer relationship:

  • Brands hire influencers to represent them on social media platforms. By law, brands have limited influence over exactly what influencers say to their followers. A Marketing Agreement can help establish the influencer’s duties and the brand’s expectations.
  • Some influencers can offer their own marketing knowledge and expertise to a brand in addition to their follower count. A Marketing Consulting Agreement can define how they may use their marketing background in representing the brand.
  • When preparing to act as a brand ambassador or representative, an influencer may encounter trade secrets and other information that the brand needs to keep confidential. A Non-Disclosure Agreement can assure the brand that the influencer will not misuse that information.

If you have more questions about preparing your Influencer Agreement or how to protect your interests and comply with federal regulations, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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