Forget Gifts Here’s 5 Better Ways to Compensate Influencers

Despite one’s views on what an influencer is or isn’t, it’s impossible to ignore the power of influence marketing; if not as a sales tool, certainly as an opportunity to raise brand awareness.

Regardless of the purpose for choosing an influence marketing strategy, the success of any campaign is, in part, related to the offer you make to targeted influencers. To help, I’ve prepped a list of 5 things to offer influencers once identified.

Before we begin, a few notes. Firstly, this is not an exhaustive list; it’s one built from my experience (read: trial and error), managing influence marketing campaigns over the past eight years.

Based on that experience, I can tell you that there’s no one right or wrong “influencer offer” when planning and executing a campaign. There are pros and cons to each incentive; one will work with one influencer but fail to resonate with another in the same group.

Some influencers are “self-created influencers” for the sake of being a social celebrity. These are individuals who built an audience with a carefully constructed – although sometimes less authentic – content strategy to monetize that audience.

In other cases, the influencer is simply an existing customer or other who is truly passionate about the brand, product or service. Their audience wasn’t constructed to shill for a fee but developed naturally through authentic conversations and mutual experiences.

So, before you make your decision, consider each targeted influencer, what will motivate him or her, and how that exchange will affect the quality and authenticity of the influencer’s advocacy.


Real celebrities and wannabe social-media-celebrities seek financial rewards for access to their constructed (and sometimes largely fake) followings.

Many bloggers and Instagram-celebrities, for example, will provide a rate card for their services, which can include writing a blog post, reviewing a product, or posting a picture of themselves holding your product.

According to Hyper, the average price range for influencers with 500,000 to 1 million followers currently runs between $5,000 and $10,000. These fees are by no means a standard; influence marketing payouts can be negotiated. Further, reported rates vary greatly.

For example, some report the average rate of a sponsored Instagram post with over 1 million followers at $1,405, whereas AdWeek shares the average sponsored Instagram post costs $300.

WARNING: Be careful when considering financial compensation for a paid post. Each post should contain a disclaimer that the recommendation or the product being reviewed is sponsored. In so doing, you decrease the authenticity of the influencer’s advocacy. Fail to offer such a disclaimer and risk a potential brand backlash.

My point of view: Fee-for-influence campaigns rarely deliver measurable bottom-line results for a host of reasons. If the selected influencer has unique content or the ability to amass a large (verified) audience, you may be better off investing in hiring that person to develop content for your own digital properties.


Depending on the type of influencers selected, one of the most useful forms of re-reimbursement is the provision of exclusive content that the chosen influencer may share with his or her audience.

Most bloggers and Instagrammers, for example, are always looking for unique content to share with their audience, such as value-added content that will educate or improve their lives in some manner.

These influencers are those whose motivation is to build an audience for a purpose beyond selling access. They may be people who are naturally passionate about what they do or hobbyists, sharing what they share for their interest and joy.

Alternatively, they may be writers or journalists whose motivation is building a regular audience and readership, where the financial reward is a paycheck or online advertising revenue.

This target group – in my experience – are often more influential advocates if you’re looking to sway purchase decisions because of the trust they’ve earned with their audiences. Their audiences were developed naturally and through consistent and authentic shared experiences.

For these, exclusive access to product trials, first-rights to publish research results, or pre-written content (or other media) that benefits their audience – and makes their job easier – is incentive enough.


Often, selected influencers are seeking some form of authority or credibility in a field; Those who may be more cynical (I often am), may consider this group only to be seeking status or validation of their importance or rank among their peer group.

Either way, this is leverageable for mutual benefit.

If selected, you can incentivize this group with official badges added to their sites or social media profiles, such as “Official Product Tester” or authorized blogger.

Alternatively, you can add their profile to your brand’s website or social media channels as guest bloggers. Adding their profile to a select group associated with your business plays to their egos and adds credibility to their personas as influencers, bloggers, or product/industry experts.

That, in turn, provides each with greater access to future opportunities and revenue.


Another personal motivation for many is belonging to a community of like-minded people. Membership in such a group, where each can exchange information for mutual benefit (or possibly entertainment), is a powerful incentive.

When the community is crafted to be exclusive, the allure is even greater.

In such cases, it’s essential that you consider some form of agreement or contract as a requirement for membership or continued participation in the group. That may be a deal that requires the influencers to produce x-amount of content, share y-amount of community posts or just provide the community with ongoing and regular feedback (E.g., surveys, forums).

Bundle this in with one of the other incentives mentioned here, such as exclusive rights to share the group-think on their blogs or social media profiles, and you have a winning combination.


Creating VIP experiences is a tactic that I’ve used successfully in different campaigns.

I’ve learned that many people are more interested in the opportunity to attend an event that educates or entertains them – especially exclusive events – than they are receiving a paycheck for their advocacy.

Hobnobbing with well-known personalities they admire, access to executives from brands they use and love, or participating in one-of-a-kind experiences that they’d likely never have the opportunity to do on their own at any price, such as the campaign we worked on for Acura, are powerful draws.


eMarketer reports that over $570 million is spent on influence marketing campaigns each year, yet 78% of surveyed marketers who create such campaigns claim a return on investment is their greatest concern.

Ideally, you want to find influencers whose brand advocacy comes naturally.

These are existing customers or fans whose passion for the product (or success using the product) is so meaningful that they willing advocate on your behalf, voluntarily, and without any predefined or contracted incentives.

However, startups, new product launches, or brands who don’t own market share often don’t have that luxury. In these cases, encouragement for advocacy is an essential element in earning social amplification and PR-value from those with qualified and large audiences.

The key comes down to selecting the right incentive for the right influencers; and one that will not backfire with either the influencers or their fans when you disclose that incentive (or it’s ultimately discovered).

Related Posts
Morgan Stanley Case Study Pop Up Image
ECHO Case Study Pop Up Image