Pay disparities exist in every industry and influencer marketing is no different. We’ve seen the earning differences between the highest-earning mega-influencers, full-time macro-influencers and part-time micro-influencers who aspire to expand. The pay disparity continues to grow – highlighting the need for brand intervention and for creators to stand up for what they deserve.

Who is affected by pay disparity? 

Micro-influencers and nano-influencers are the most affected by the gap, even though data shows that brands are more likely to get the best return by partnering with influencers that have a smaller yet more targeted demographic. Follower count aside, it’s become clear that black creators are paid less than their white peers. And while male influencers create just 31% of branded and partnered content (based on a survey of 1,600 creators), they still earn more than more viable female creators. 

The problem is partly due to a lack of standardization, which means brands and influencers are working separately in silos to enact change. The path to unity may mean many things, but a standardized pay rate could yield better results. In addition, consulting influencer partners and getting them involved in councils and advisory boards may make a difference.

How creators can get involved

Creators are not ignorant of the disparity; on the contrary, they are vocal about what they deserve. And their claims have proof. @InfluencerPayGap, created by Adesuwa Ajayi on Instagram encourages creators to share their rates for their campaigns plus other demographic information to bring the industry together and keep brands accountable for how they compensate creators. Similarly, F*** You Pay Me (FYPM) aggregates salaries and brand reviews in a Glassdoor-esque platform. 

Still, all the data in the world can’t stop the industry from changing unless they make an active effort to close the gap. It’s in every creator’s power to turn down opportunities that they don’t see as equitable and to inform their partners of their rates upfront. Some creators may still be willing to accept products as compensation instead of cash – but brands shouldn’t bank on that opportunity still being on the table. 

Additionally, more creators may be pursuing partnerships with agents or talent management to advocate on their behalf – but this can result in higher rates for brands as influencer rates rise and agents earn their cut.

How brands can support creators

Influencer marketing spend is on the rise – and many brands are bumping their budgets to accommodate the anticipated growth and make sure they’re making fair pay a priority. We recommend compensating creators with cash and gift cards, even if you’re still sending them a product for free.

Brands also have the opportunity to stand by creators and against pay disparity by offering fair compensation to their content partners. But what does “fair” mean? Here are a few things to consider within your strategy: 

      • Consult with creators
      • Build your compensation benchmarks with reach, performance, creator feedback or other criteria to gauge what creators may charge
      • Negotiate and work closely with creators to understand what an equitable payment structure looks like. Just keep in mind that numbers may fluctuate according to the market, the time of year, the social media platform, and more. 

Moreover, brands who speak out about pay disparity should continue to do so – but making tangible changes and following through with actionable results are the strongest way to show your creator partners that you support and believe in their work. Not only will this solidarity result in a bigger creator pool interested in working with your brand, but it’s also a powerful move to stand as a role model among other brands. Speaking up for change, as well as making diversity, equity, and inclusion a centerpiece of your ambassador programs show a commitment to unity and fairness. 

Key points: 

      • Pay disparity, especially among black and female creators, is rampant among the influencer industry
      • Influencers are empowered to push back and pursue better opportunities, including partnering with agents and talent management
      • Brands should stand by their creators and make fair pay a priority
      • We recommend utilizing our influencer incentives guide and checking out our summer webinar series where we share how to pay influencers